The growing trend of vaginal rejuvenation
Way south of the slackening chin-line and crepey decolleté, there is another part of us that needs to be lifted, tucked, pulled, tightened, lightened, brightened, jabbed, puffed, peeled and plumped… Designer vaginas, vaginal rejuvenation – call it what you may. Down there is where plastic surgeons and aesthetic practitioners are seeing a growing demand, fueled by – what else? – Hollywood (where a certain Dr David Matlock famously does hundreds of these all the time in Los Angeles).
‘Perineal rejuvenation and beautification – sorting out the undercarriage’ was the topic of a talk we attended recently, delivered by Johannesburg plastic surgeon Dr Chetan Patel, who practises with the Laserderm Aesthetic Medical Centres. Only 32% of women want these treatments and procedures for functional or health reasons (swimsuit and underwear models, horse-riders, bikers, gymnasts, dancers, etc). The rest (68%) demand it for aesthetic reasons, to make things tidier and prettier “down there” with surgical labial reduction and designer laser vaginoplasty –laser procedures to tighten the vagina or reduce the inner vaginal lips (labia minora). Interestingly enough, numerous women are actively encouraged by their husbands or sexual partners to have these “improvements” done, says Patel. Critics believe it is all due to the onslaught and proliferation of unrealistic vagina images on porn internet sites, the porn movie industry, magazines and other media. The female vulva is undoubtedly under closer scrutiny than ever before. The general acceptance of oral sex, together with fashionably revealing underwear and swimwear, also contribute to the demand for this form of rejuvenation.
The trend for vaginal beautification has certainly leaped to new levels and dimensions: from vajazzling to a serious vagenda. Vajazzling includes beautifying the nether regions with the help of shaping, dying, shaving and waxing, or complete removal of pubic hair, as well as decorating the area – think Brazilian waxes, colourful “landing strips”, permanent laser hair removal, saucy tattoos and bling pubic decorations such as diamanté stick-ons. Surgical procedures by plastic surgeons and radio frequency or laser treatments by aesthetic medical practitioners are some of the options for vaginal rejuvenation. Medically speaking, these procedures are considered elective cosmetic surgery. However, not all of the demand is vanity or fashion-driven; in the case of slackening vaginal walls due to childbirth and aging, there may be some true justification, and for gynaecological or urinal issues, these procedures can be a godsend. We asked two experts about this growing trend:
WHAT ARE THE LATEST TECHNIQUES (BOTH LOCALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY)? WHY ARE WOMEN LOOKING AT TIGHTENING DOWN THERE?
Dr Chetan Patel, plastic surgeon, Laserderm Aesthetic Medial Centres:
There are no differences regarding trends locally and internationally with respect to techniques. There are two very separate issues at play: one is a cosmetic/ aesthetic look of the outer female parts (ie vulva, pubis and entrance to the vagina), and the other is a gynaecological/urological issue of vaginal wall prolapse or weakness which results in a number of symptoms, such as incontinence, feeling of laxity in the vagina and therefore loss of “perceived” tightness. Techniques for aesthetic beautification of female anatomy “down there” are:
- Labia minora reduction surgery, either as a wedge reduction or as a straight line excision of tissue, depending on the individual shape of the labia;
- Fat grafting to the labia majora (outer labia); and
- Liposuction of the pubic mons (lower pubic bone bulge). The combination of these three procedures (not necessarily every one for every patient) will enhance the “neat” and manicured look that women seek. It makes sense that if women and men are manicuring the “lawn and hedges” down there, they may want to invest a little in changing the “terrain”!
- Cost: Between R20 000 and R30 000 for labial reduction.
- Downtime: Back to work within five to six days. NO sex for six weeks.
- Complications: Sensation alteration.
Branislav Sucanský, director of BTL Aesthetics SA, which markets the BTL Exilis Radiofrequency Machine, used for non-invasive labia remodelling: The techniques are either invasive or non-invasive, carried out by either laser (I personally know of three producers only) or radiofrequency (I personally know only BTL). Tightening is performed for hygienic reasons, because of (dis)comfort when wearing tight clothes or during specific sport activities, or purely for aesthetic purposes – improved shape and visual appeal. I am also aware of Botox or fillers injected in labia.
To my knowledge the results are not that well accepted.
Cost: The recommended cost is R2 500 per half-hour session; one would require four sessions.