Rejuvenating the vagina has gone from relatively unknown in the general populace to a full-on trend within the last 5 years. While the surgical labiaplasty procedure has been around for some time, it has increased steadily in interest in recent years – perhaps much to do with lessening taboo.
Even so, the real engine of the rise of vaginal rejuvenation is in the non-surgical realm. Interested patients are very interested in the idea of solving stress urinary incontinence and moisture issues without the need of an operating room and scalpels. Plastic surgeons Dr. Kristi Hustak and Dr. Lee Thornton share their thoughts on the growing trend and how it’s bringing significant results and happiness to patients.
Where it Began – Labiaplasty
“Vaginal rejuvenation” may be the catch-all phrase to describe the confederation of new and cutting-edge procedures aimed at fixing the vagina, but one of the most popular procedures, labiaplasty, is both not new and surgical. Labiaplasty is a surgical technique that alters the labia minora, utilized typically to remove excess skin and tissue that causes pain and/or discomfort during physical activity. As taboos have lessened and other trends shift, women are becoming for focused on the aesthetics of their vagina, as well as fixes to problems that limit them functionally. Horseback riding, bicycles, and even simply wearing yoga pants without being self-conscious, can all be addressed swiftly.
“[Vaginal rejuvenation] is becoming less taboo and people are talking about it more, “shares Dr. Hustak, a board certified plastic surgeon in Houston. “I see young girls coming in for labiaplasties, middle-aged mommies talking about stress incontinence, leakage, or laxity issues. And then, I see menopausal women that come in, too, where either their anatomy has changed, or it’s always been that way and it’s always bothered them, or it’s moisture.”
The symptoms labiaplasty addresses themselves are not new; women are just now discovering that real options exist to alleviate them. “I think it’s important to realize that with labiaplasty particularly, this has been in our hands as plastic surgeons for many, many years,” explains Dr. Lee Thornton, a board certified plastic surgeon in Meridian, Mississippi. “Certainly it’s much more popular now, but realize this is, in most cases, a functional procedure that people are having symptoms for that they want alleviated.”
The Trend’s Afterburners – Non-Surgical Devices
While labiaplasty is indeed enjoying a surge in interest (and success), it’s the non-surgical devices that account for the afterburners rocketing vaginal rejuvenation to the forefront of aesthetic surgery. Devices like ThermiVa and the Femtouch laser utilize energy rather than scalpels to affect change – much of which can be done during a lunch hour with no downtime associated. Due to this ability to pop in for a quick procedure that promises significant results, the number of women interested grows as the information spreads.
“On the non-surgical side, this is the area that’s really blossomed and taken off,” says Thornton. “These are radio frequency energy devices, carbon dioxide lasers, and erbium lasers are the three main ones that we’re using to perform vaginal rejuvenation.”
The non-surgical devices work, otherwise board certified plastic surgeons would not be so glowing of their experience and reviews. The tricky part for patients is selecting the proper physician to guide them as to which device – or surgical procedure – would best work for them. Non-surgical devices, whether it be CoolSculpting, ThermiVa, or minimally-invasive injectable procedures like Botox, all suffer from the fact that they are not surgical. This seems obvious, but non-surgical devices do not require a surgeon. Many non-surgeons can purchase these devices, which accounts for the slew of spas, family practitioners, and even dentists are getting in on the craze.
This is where these devices can be problematic. Patients still require an expert to analyze and consult about their specific issues, so that the proper treatment can be selected. “I like to use the analogy with non-core specialists: if you walk into a brown shoe store, you’re going to leave with a brown shoe,” explains Hustak. “That’s the nice thing about seeing a plastic surgeon: you have a whole spectrum. We have surgical options, non-surgical options, and if I can’t fix what your anatomy is showing me, that’s when you involve [other physicians]. There are a lot of things happening down there and not everything can be fixed by one non-surgical device.”
In other words, if a patient goes to their OBGYN for vaginal treatment, they may only have ThermiVa available. In that instance, the patient may feel like that’s a catch-all procedure, when really it’s meant for certain patients for the best results. Because of this, it’s imperative patients consult with plastic surgeons who have all of the tools. Both parties want to create the best plan to achieve the patient’s goals.
The Success is Measured in Patient Happiness
The functional and aesthetic improvements offered by vaginal rejuvenation treatments are being sung by a chorus of satisfied patients. Women who thought they were stuck with uncomfortable, over-sized labia minora, stress urinary incontinence, or even looseness and dryness, are beginning to realize that real options exist – and, for the most part, involve little downtime.
Dr. Thornton’s initial patients were so pleased that they offered to do a commercial for his practice to get the news out. Considering the private nature of vaginal rejuvenation, as well as Dr. Thornton’s small market in Mississippi, this was shocking proof of his practice’s successful use of these technologies and procedures. “We’ve been doing laser and non-surgical procedures for 20 years,” he shares. “When we started with vaginal rejuvenation two or three years ago, the first two patients came back and said we totally changed their lives. They volunteered – asked us, without us prompting – to do commercials for us. That’s a woman who’s had procedures for vaginal rejuvenation willing to go in our relatively small market, on TV, in front of her peers, and speak about this. We’ve never had this. It’s really pretty impressive when used correctly.”