What is vaginal rejuvenation?
Vaginal rejuvenation is a broad term that describes various vaginal corrective procedures. Due to causes ranging from childbirth and aging to genetics, your vagina and its surrounding tissues may lose elasticity and strength. This leads to several issues like incontinence (leaking urine), vaginal dryness, sagging skin and lack of sexual pleasure. Many women or people assigned female at birth (AFAB) look to vaginal rejuvenation to improve these conditions and restore the look and function of their vagina. There are surgical and nonsurgical options for vaginal rejuvenation.
Why do people get vaginal rejuvenation?
People get vaginal rejuvenation to address common issues associated with having children or menopause, including vaginal looseness, lack of lubrication and loss of sexual intimacy. Treatment can help minimize these symptoms as well as:
- Loose skin around the vagina.
- Leaking urine when jumping, sneezing or laughing.
- Not being able to hold your urine.
- Decreased libido.
- Excess dryness.
- Painful sex.
- Loss of sensation and sexual satisfaction.
- Lack of confidence or low self-esteem.
What are the different kinds of vaginal rejuvenation?
Vaginal rejuvenation procedures can be surgical or nonsurgical. Treatment affects the vulva (the outer part of the female genitals) and the vaginal canal (where penetration occurs during sex or where you put a tampon).
Surgical methods of vaginal rejuvenation
Surgical methods of vaginal rejuvenation typically involve sedation or anesthesia. A gynecologic or plastic surgeon performs these procedures. Some common surgical procedures for vaginal rejuvenation are:
- Labiaplasty: Reshaping your labia or the “lips” of your vagina.
- Vaginoplasty: Tightens or repairs the vaginal canal after childbirth.
- Clitoral hood reduction: Removes extra tissue that covers the clitoris.
- Monsplasty: Removes fatty tissue from the public bone area.
- Vulvoplasty: Reshapes the vulvar area (external genitalia).
- Perineoplasty: Strengthens the perineum (space between your vaginal and anus).
Nonsurgical methods of vaginal rejuvenation
Nonsurgical methods of vaginal rejuvenation are noninvasive with a short recovery time. They help tighten and tone your vaginal area without needles or surgery. Nonsurgical vaginal rejuvenation involves heating the top layers of vaginal tissue. This causes the underlying tissue to create extra collagen and new, firmer tissue.
Nonsurgical treatment includes:
- CO2 laser treatment: The laser heats the upper layers of the tissue in your vagina, causing the tissue in the lower layers to make more collagen. This makes the skin firmer and tighter. Brand names of laser devices include MonaLisa Touch®, FemTouch® and FemiLift®.
- RF (radio frequency) treatment: RF treatment uses electromagnetic waves, similar to the waves used in a microwave (but to a lesser extent). RF waves heat the vaginal tissue, encouraging blood flow and collagen production. Brand names of RF devices include Viveve®, Emsella® and ThermiVA®.
RF and laser treatments are done in an office setting. Little, if any, local anesthetic is used during the procedure. You can typically continue with your day without needing any recovery time.
How do they do surgical vaginal rejuvenation?
It depends on the type of surgery. First, you’ll meet with a surgeon to discuss your symptoms and what you hope to achieve with surgery. Use this time to ask questions and understand the risks and benefits of the procedure.
Most vaginal rejuvenation surgeries last one to two hours, but it depends on the procedure, the level of work involved and the method the surgeon uses. In most cases, surgical vaginal rejuvenation is done under general anesthesia in an outpatient facility. Once you’re asleep, the surgeon makes incisions (cuts) on your vulva or in your vagina and the surrounding tissues and muscles. The location of the incisions varies depending on the type of surgery. Finally, they close the incisions with dissolvable stitches.
Your surgeon will give you post-operative instructions, including a list of restricted activities (like sex). You’ll be allowed to use ice packs and pain relievers for discomfort. Since you’re asleep, you won’t experience pain during the surgery.
Before consenting to surgical procedures, make sure you understand the treatment method and risks. As with any surgery, there are post-operative instructions you need to follow to prevent infection and injury.
How do they do laser vaginal rejuvenation?
With this type of vaginal rejuvenation, tightening and toning occur when a probe (or wand) is inserted into your vagina or guided across your external genitals. The probe has a light-like top, which heats the tissue. Your surgeon or provider rotates the wand or uses gentle strokes to distribute the heat in the affected areas.
Laser (or RF) vaginal rejuvenation treatment lasts anywhere from five to 30 minutes, depending on the type and intensity of the laser or RF waves and the procedure you’re having.
Nonsurgical vaginal rejuvenation is painless and requires no anesthesia. Your provider may use a topical anesthetic if discomfort occurs. The treatment area may feel warm or like a bee sting during the procedure. You’ll need to refrain from sex or using tampons for three to five days. Follow all of your provider’s post-procedure instructions for the best results.
You may experience some redness or swelling after treatment, but this should subside within 24 -48 hours. You may need several treatments before you reach your desired outcome.
Risks / Benefits
What are the benefits of vaginal rejuvenation?
Vaginal rejuvenation can:
- Improve the tightness of your vagina.
- Help with incontinence (leaking urine).
- Increase lubrication and moisture.
- Increase vaginal sensitivity and sensations.
- Strengthen weak vaginal and pelvic muscles.
- Improve painful intercourse.
- Enhance the appearance of your vulvar area (labia, clitoris or vaginal opening).
Are there any complications associated with vaginal rejuvenation?
Not all vaginal rejuvenation treatment has been proven safe or effective. There are several risks associated with vaginal rejuvenation (with increased risk for surgical treatments):
- Painful sex (dyspareunia).
Recovery and Outlook
Does vaginal rejuvenation work?
Like most cosmetic surgeries, individual results will vary. Some vaginal rejuvenation treatments are questionable and lack scientific proof.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned some companies marketing vaginal rejuvenation procedures. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) warns against these procedures, calling the marketing practices “deceptive.” They recommend that you go through a careful evaluation with your gynecologist and understand the risks and complications before proceeding with vaginal rejuvenation procedures.
How long should I wait to have sex after vaginal rejuvenation?
If you have a nonsurgical treatment, you should wait at least three to five days to have sex. Check for signs of infection or bleeding before engaging in sexual intercourse. You should also refrain from using a tampon or inserting anything into your vagina during the recovery period.
Surgical treatment may require abstinence from sex for several weeks until the area has healed and stitches have dissolved. Talk to your surgeon or provider about specific recovery instructions.
How long does vaginal rejuvenation last?
It depends. Laser and RF treatments usually need to be repeated over several sessions. Results are not permanent. Surgical procedures may last longer, but there is no guarantee that the results will last forever.
When to Call the Doctor
When should I see my healthcare provider?
Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re struggling with sexual dissatisfaction, pain or lack of confidence over issues with your vagina. There may be things they can do to help you, like physical therapy or medication. It’s important to talk to a trusted medical professional before proceeding with surgeries or treatments to make sure you understand the risks and what other options are out there to help you.
Does my insurance cover vaginal rejuvenation?
Most insurance plans don’t cover vaginal rejuvenation because it’s considered cosmetic (not medically necessary). However, there are exceptions like childbirth injuries or trauma. Contact your insurance provider for questions regarding coverage.
How much does vaginal rejuvenation cost?
It depends. Several factors determine how much vaginal rejuvenation costs. Some of these factors include:
- Where you live.
- The type of procedure (surgical or nonsurgical).
- How extensive treatment is.
- If your insurance will cover any portion of the cost.
For example, a vulvoplasty in New York City will be substantially more than laser or RF treatment in Ohio. You can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $15,000 or more.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Vaginal rejuvenation consists of surgical and nonsurgical treatments that firm up the skin around your vagina or tighten the vaginal canal. It helps improve issues such as sexual dysfunction, urinary incontinence and vaginal dryness. Healthcare providers are still learning about vaginal rejuvenation and its associated risks and benefits. If you’re suffering from pain during sex, leaking urine or dislike how your vagina looks after childbirth, talk to a trusted medical professional about your options. Vaginal rejuvenation treatment may be right for you.
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