What is Vaginal Rejuvenation?
Vaginal rejuvenation refers to procedures that can be performed for cosmetic reasons or to relieve symptoms of vaginal relaxation. Vaginal rejuvenation, or vaginal reconstruction, involves the repair of loose, stretched, or torn tissue to tighten, strengthen, and support the vaginal walls and pelvic organs.
Why Would I have Vaginal Rejuvenation Surgery?
Vaginal walls are naturally elastic and supple, thanks to the hormone estrogen. Over time, and after childbirth, the vaginal muscles can stretch and loosen. If a woman’s body stops producing estrogen due to a hormonal imbalance or menopause, the vaginal tissue can atrophy. This weakened and loose vaginal tissue can cause pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence. Also, some women find that sex becomes less pleasurable or even painful.
Vaginal rejuvenation surgery can treat many of these unpleasant symptoms. Here are some reasons why patients seek vaginal rejuvenation:
- Restoring vaginal tightness following multiple births or a large birth
- Repairing torn tissue due to injury, childbirth, or an inadequately healed episiotomy
- Treating pelvic organ prolapse
- Treating urinary incontinence
- Tightening the vaginal opening for improved sexual pleasure for a woman and her partner
Surgical Options for Vaginal Rejuvenation
There are several different procedures that may be performed during vaginal rejuvenation. The type of procedure or procedures your surgeon will perform depends upon your gynecological health and the conditions you wish to treat. It is important to discuss all of your concerns with your gynecologist to get the most benefit from your surgery.
A perineorrhaphy, or perineoplasty, is the surgical repair of the perineum, the small stretch of skin between the vagina and the anus. A perineorrhaphy reconstructs the muscles surrounding the vaginal opening and repairs perineal tears or episiotomy scars.
In this procedure, the surgeon makes a small, V-shaped incision in the posterior vaginal wall (the side nearest to the anus). This V-shaped incision removes scarred tissue and creates a clean line for the surgeon to stitch together, decreasing the size of the vaginal opening. The reduction in the diameter of the vaginal opening can increase friction during sex, which can enhance pleasure for you and your partner.
Some perineorraphies include vaginoplasty or labiaplasty, which are cosmetic surgeries that aim to improve the appearance of a woman’s external genitalia to fit a desired aesthetic. Vaginoplasty reduces excess vaginal lining, resulting in a more tucked-in and “youthful” look. Labiaplasty reshapes or reduces the labia minora – the hood of skin that folds over the clitoris and vagina.
A rectocele is a type of pelvic organ prolapse in which the rectum pushes against and causes a bulge in the back wall of the vagina. Rectoceles are commonly caused by a difficult delivery, a previous surgery, or pelvic floor weakness. They can cause lower back pain and pain during sex.
A rectocele repair involves the surgical reconstruction of the posterior vaginal wall to restore the rectum to its proper position and tighten the stretched vaginal tissue. The surgeon pulls the tissue together, providing the pelvic organs with support and preventing another prolapse.
A cystocele is another type of pelvic organ prolapse which involves the bladder pushing against the front wall of the vagina. Cystoceles can often cause painful sex and urinary problems. It is not uncommon for a woman to suffer a cystocele following a vaginal birth.
Repairing a cystocele involves making an incision in the vaginal wall and pulling the loosened tissue together. This will lend enough support to your pelvic floor to lift the bladder to its original position in the pelvis and prevent a recurrence of prolapse.
How is a Surgical Vaginal Rejuvenation Performed?
Vaginal rejuvenation is performed under general anesthesia, meaning you will be asleep during the surgery. Depending on the type of surgery, the procedure may take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. If your surgery includes the repair of pelvic organ prolapse, you may need to stay in the hospital for 1-2 days.
Risks of Surgical Vaginal Rejuvenation
Vaginal rejuvenation carries some risks, which you should discuss with your doctor prior to surgery. These risks include:
- Heavy bleeding
- Tissue damage
- Pelvic or lower back pain
- Pain during sex
- Urinary incontinence or retention – some patients seeking rejuvenation as a treatment for urinary problems find that their symptoms persist or worsen after surgery.
- Fistula – an abnormal opening joining two organs.
- Recurring prolapse or other symptoms
The effects of vaginal rejuvenation are most successful when you can avoid pregnancy and constipation. These conditions will put a strain on your pelvic muscles and may undo some of the benefits of surgery. You can also decrease the risks by abstaining from smoking, keeping a healthy weight, and avoiding heavy lifting.
It is recommended that you wait to have vaginal rejuvenation surgery until after you are finished having children. Labor and vaginal delivery will naturally stretch and damage the vaginal tissue. Vaginal rejuvenation will have the greatest and longest-lasting effect if you avoid pregnancy following your surgery.
Surgical Vaginal Rejuvenation Recovery
If you have had surgery to correct a pelvic organ prolapse (rectocele or cystocele), then you may need to stay in the hospital for a couple of days. You should see a return to your normal bowel and urinary function within 2-4 weeks.
You will want to avoid any rigorous exercise and sexual intercourse for 6 weeks following surgery. After 6 weeks, most women can return to their normal activities.
You may experience genital and pelvic pain during your recovery. You can manage the discomfort with prescription pain medication. If you experience pain that worsens, severe bleeding, or a fever, you should call your doctor right away. These may be a sign of an infection or tissue damage.
Non-Surgical Options for Vaginal Rejuvenation
The MonaLisa Touch is a revolutionary new FDA-approved treatment for vaginal atrophy and laxity. MonaLisa Touch is a minimally-invasive technique that uses laser technology to revitalize atrophied genital tissue. The MonaLisa Touch can restore vaginal lubrication and elasticity and relieve discomfort experienced during sexual intercourse.
Vaginal atrophy is usually caused by estrogen deficiencies resulting from menopause, breastfeeding, and some cancer treatments. The decrease in estrogen production thins and weakens the vaginal walls, reducing blood flow to the area and causing inflammation and dryness. Vaginal atrophy can also cause urinary problems, such as incontinence.
The MonaLisa Touch can alleviate these symptoms, including:
- Vaginal dryness
- Genital irritation, burning, or itching
- Painful intercourse
- Urinary symptoms
How Does the MonaLisa Touch Work?
The MonaLisa touch directs a tiny carbon dioxide fractional laser at the vaginal walls, which stimulates collagen production. The tissue can then regenerate, growing healthier and more elastic, which improves vaginal lubrication and allows for a more comfortable and enjoyable sex life.
The course of treatment consists of three sessions, six weeks apart. The sessions take no longer than 5 minutes, and most patients experience no pain or discomfort. If you wish, your doctor can apply a local anesthetic cream before the procedure.
The risks of MonaLisa Touch are virtually nonexistent. The MonaLisa Touch is one of the safest medical procedures available.
MonaLisa Touch Recovery
Patients can return to their normal activities upon returning home from the procedure. However, you should avoid sexual intercourse for 48 hours. You may experience some redness or swelling for a day or two, but you shouldn’t expect severe pain or tenderness. Talk with your gynecologist for more information about a safe and quick recovery.
Most patients have been very happy with their results and have reported significantly less itching, burning, dryness, and pain during sex. Although the full treatment takes three sessions, you may start to see some improvement in your condition after the first session.