7 Warnings About Vaginal Rejuvenation (Vaginoplasty)
- Things to Know Before You Consider a Vaginal Rejuvenation ProcedureVaginal rejuvenation (sometimes also called “vaginoplasty”) is a nebulous term without a clear definition—even by doctors. The term can refer to everything from vaginal rejuvenation surgery performed under general anesthesia to non-invasive “tightening” treatments. Are these treatments really necessary? How safe are they? And how much does vaginal rejuvenation cost? Despite the hype you may have seen by celebrities on social media, these procedures may not have FDA approval and can carry significant risks. Find out what you need to know before you consider having a vaginal rejuvenation treatment.
- 1. Female genital cosmetic surgery is not medically necessary.In January 2020, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), representing more than 60,000 women’s health physicians, issued an opinion that discussed the “substantial risks” of procedures like vaginal rejuvenation, which “are not medically indicated.” The college points out these cosmetic procedures are not well-studied and their efficacy has not been proven. Before you think about undergoing vaginal rejuvenation, talk to your gynecologist about your reasons for exploring this option. Your doctor may be able to provide you with proven treatments that address your health issues better than a cosmetic procedure.
- 2. Many devices for vaginal rejuvenation do not have FDA approval.Several energy-based devices (including lasers and radiofrequency devices) have received FDA approval over the years to treat a variety of gynecological conditions, including genital warts and cancerous lesions. However, the FDA has not approved these same devices for use in “vaginal rejuvenation” procedures. In fact, the FDA states, “To date, we have not cleared or approved for marketing any energy-based devices to treat…any symptoms related to menopause, urinary incontinence, or sexual function.” Before you agree to laser or thermal vaginal tightening, understand that this use of devices is not approved by the FDA.
- 3. There is almost no research data into the efficacy of vaginal rejuvenation.One of the most common types of vaginal rejuvenation treatment uses a thermal device inserted into the vagina to tighten the internal tissues. However, only a handful of studies provide any data regarding the safety and efficacy of this procedure, and most of those studies were ill-designed. Many of the studies involved fewer than 50 women, and most were not high-quality randomized, controlled trials. Although the available studies did not reveal any serious adverse effects, more research is required before these procedures can be considered safe.
- 4. Vaginoplasty surgery for laxity usually requires general anesthesia.Childbirth can sometimes cause the muscles of the vaginal canal to actually separate, which can result in extreme vaginal laxity. In this case, a reconstructive surgeon can perform surgery to remove a wedge-shaped piece of tissue from inside the vagina and then draw the incisions tightly together with suture to narrow the vaginal canal. For women with severe laxity, this surgery can be effective at tightening the vagina, but it is a major surgery with real risks including bleeding and infection. Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor.
- 5. Laser treatment for vulvovaginal atrophy is not FDA-approved.After menopause, a lack of estrogen can cause the vulvar and vaginal tissues to shrink and dry out, a condition known as vulvovaginal atrophy. These effects, in turn, can lead to feelings of uncomfortable vaginal dryness and pain with intercourse. The only approved treatments for vulvovaginal atrophy are vaginal moisturizers and estrogen treatments. While some media outlets have described laser treatments for vulvovaginal atrophy as “FDA-approved” or “FDA-cleared,” this is not the case. In fact, no studies have been published to demonstrate that this procedure is safe for women to undergo.
- 6. Non-invasive vaginal rejuvenation treatments may not be permanent.Many providers who offer non-invasive laser or thermal vaginal rejuvenation treatments are quick to point out that the effects of the treatment may be only temporary, lasting perhaps up to three years. It’s impossible to say how long the effects of non-invasive vaginal rejuvenation might last because these procedures have not been adequately studied. Prior to having a laser or thermal vaginal treatment performed, be sure to consider whether the expense is worth the temporary result.
- 7. Vaginal rejuvenation treatment can be expensive.Vaginal rejuvenation treatments—like any type of cosmetic treatment—are not covered by insurance, so you must pay out of pocket for them. Many types of noninvasive vaginal rejuvenation therapies require multiple treatments over the course of several appointments, so be sure to find out what your total cost will be for the complete treatment course. Thermal vaginal tightening procedures can run from a few hundred to more than $1,000 per appointment, while a vaginoplasty surgery can cost many thousands of dollars. Also consider the cost of any potential complications that could require additional treatment.
7 Things to Know About Vaginal Rejuvenation (Vaginoplasty)