One thing we don’t generally see in the cosmetic surgery ads that are plastered on subway cars and on Facebook: the laundry list of vaginal issues that creep up throughout our lives, from puberty to childbirth to menopause and beyond. And honestly? It’s time we start talking about them. Because no matter how intimate you may be with your “V” or how dedicated you are to your daily kegels, there are some situations that require professional help to tighten, moisten, and generally make things more comfortable down there. In fact, according to the American Societiy for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, labiaplasty is on the rise with 23 percent more procedures performed in 2016 than 2015.
“While there’s a huge cosmetic market out there because women want to have things done for aesthetic reasons, vaginal reconstruction isn’t always considered cosmetic. There are so many other reasons that women seek medical attention in the feminine area,” says Patricia A. Wallace, MD, FACOG, a surgeon who specializes in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. “The feminine concerns that come into a doctor’s office on any one day, whether women feel comfortable talking about them or not, are usually skin changes, dryness, and pain with intimacy, and this is at all ages.” She also sees laxity and deflation of the internal and external tissue around the vagina, as well as urinary changes and reduced sexual responses related to orgasms or other areas of feminine pleasure.
No matter where you are in your life, a lot of these issues can take a serious toll on your physical and emotional state. Dealing with pain during sex or difficulty making it to restroom on time? No one deserves to live with that. Thankfully, there are a number of procedures to consider before making the leap to vaginal reconstructive surgery. Gone are the days of the “extra stitch” (also commonly referred to as the “the husband stitch”) being the only option for rejuvenation of the vag. “The focus is now moving from aesthetics to restoring feminine wellness, and if you can do that without surgery, that is such a bonus,” Dr. Wallace says.
There are hormonal medication options like changing your birth control pills, which can add estrogen to the vaginal tissue and help support elasticity and lubrication. Another option is laser treatment, which according to Dr. Wallace “bores tiny little holes” into the vaginal canal to help restore the surface of skin. But, personally, she’s a fan of a relatively-new “radio frequency technology” called ThermiVa, which has now been used on over 50,000 patients without any injuries or burns.
Radio frequency is gentle energy that heats the tissue both externally and internally to restore the collagen and elasticity, all of which help restore some of the other functions of the vagina and improve the blood flow for an enhanced sexual response, explains Dr. Wallace. “It allows you to treat both external issues like deflation and sagging of the tissue and internal ones for that whole group of women who may experience dryness, reduced sensation, or relaxation in the area.”
The process, which requires a single 30-minute office visit and no anesthesia, can be customized to fit a patient’s particular needs, as well as the shape and size of their vagina. The best part is that there is no painful downtime. However, the results are not permanent and are best maintained when stacked treatments, which can can anywhere from $1,250 to $3,750, are performed. Improvements will vary based on the severity of the issue being treated, as well as the patient’s hormonal status.