Changes to the vagina—such as an increase in laxity and dryness—are completely normal as women age or after they’ve had children. If you’ve experienced these changes and aren’t bothered by them or they’re very mild, you won’t need to consider having treatment.

However, if you’ve noticed that your vagina is feeling looser or dryer since having children or after the menopause, and these changes are affecting your quality of life, you may have considered vaginal tightening treatments.

Vaginal tightening surgery (also known as vaginal rejuvenation surgery, or the ‘designer vagina’) involves surgically tightening the vaginal canal and can be combined with labiaplasty surgery to reduce the size of the labia minora. Having the surgery means being placed under general anaesthetic and facing several weeks of recovery time.

Therefore, having the surgery is not a decision to take lightly and it’s always worth considering the alternatives—such as hormone treatment, exercise, physiotherapy and laser vaginal tightening treatment.

You can find out more about what vaginal tightening laser treatment is, the benefits and the costs here.

What is vaginal tightening surgery?

The term ‘vaginal tightening surgery’ actually covers several different procedures:

  • Tightening the vaginal canal to improve sensation during sexual intercourse.
  • Repairing the pelvic floor muscles and tightening the vaginal canal after it has been overstretched and weakened during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Repairing the perineal area after damage from an episiotomy or tear during childbirth. In some cases the tear can be so severe that it affects the muscles and tissue in the anus too, causing pain and faecal incontinence issues. In these cases, the damage requires surgical repair1.
  • Treating severe cases of pelvic organ prolapse (where the pelvic organs such as the bladder or bowels move from their normal position and press into the vagina). Surgical repair is only usually required in severe cases of pelvic organ prolapse.
  • Sexual reassignment surgery for male to female transgender patients is known as a vaginoplasty. This term can also refer to surgical vaginal tightening in women.

In this article, we look into the procedure of tightening the vaginal canal to improve laxity.

What’s involved in the procedure?

During the vaginal tightening procedure, a surgeon will shorten the stretched muscles and tissue at the back of your vagina by removing excess tissue. The surgeon will stitch vaginal tissue and muscles back together to reduce the size of the vaginal canal.

In some cases, a vaginoplasty procedure is combined with a labiaplasty—where a surgeon will reduce the size of the labia minora (the ‘lips’ at the entrance of the vaginal opening).

Vaginal tightening surgery is done under anaesthetic and takes one to two hours to complete. The procedure is usually treated as a day case, but you may have to stay in overnight depending on the time of your operation, how well you initially recover and if there are any complications.

How long does it take to recover from vaginal tightening surgery?

You’re likely to feel sore for the first few days after having vaginal tightening surgery and it can take at least a week before you feel ready to return to work. In total it can take up to three weeks to recover from the procedure and you may have to wait up to eight weeks before having sexual intercourse or using tampons.

How much does vaginal tightening surgery cost?

Vaginal tightening surgery costs around £6,0002 but this can vary depending on your individual symptoms. It isn’t routinely done on the NHS, so it’s very likely you’ll need to fund the cost of the procedure yourself3.

Vaginal tightening is the most expensive vaginal rejuvenation option, so if it’s out of your price range you may want to consider an alternative treatment. Vaginal tightening laser treatment (known as FemiLift) is a more affordable option for vaginal tightening and much less invasive. You can find out more about the FemiLift procedure and the costs involved here.

Why do women choose to have vaginal tightening surgery?

There are several reasons why women choose to have vaginal tightening surgery. The main ones include:

  • a loss of sensation during sex
  • a feeling of looseness in the vagina, particularly after having children, where the vagina doesn’t regain its pre-pregnancy form
  • weak pelvic floor muscles that can lead to problems such as incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse
  • scarring to the vagina caused by trauma during childbirth—this can cause pain and discomfort which needs to be rectified with surgery
  • an enlarged labia—although reducing the size of the labia is actually labiaplasty surgery, the procedure is often combined with vaginal tightening surgery. It’s important to note that labia come in all shapes and sizes and this is normal. If you’re bothered by the size or shape of your labia (for example, if it causes you pain or discomfort when riding a bike or if it interferes with intercourse), you should speak to your GP about this.

What are the risks of having vaginal tightening surgery?

There are risks with any surgical procedure and vaginal tightening is no different.

Risks of having this procedure include:

  • a negative reaction to general anaesthetic4
  • infection
  • scarring
  • nerve damage resulting in permanent loss of sensation

What are the alternatives to vaginal tightening surgery?

If you’re concerned about vaginal laxity but don’t want to undergo surgery, there are some alternative treatments you could try. However, it’s worth having a GP consultation in the first instance so they can diagnose any underlying health issues.

Exercise and physiotherapy

Pelvic floor exercises can help to tighten and tone the muscle that supports your pelvic organs and improve sensation during sexual intercourse. If you have severely weakened pelvic floor muscles, you may need to speak to a physiotherapist specialising in female anatomy to help rectify the issue.

You can find out more about the benefits of floor exercises with our guide Vaginal exercises—what they are, how to do them and their benefits.

Vaginal tightening laser treatment

FemiLift treatment is a non-surgical vaginal laser tightening procedure that can improve the symptoms of vaginal dryness and laxity. You can find out more about the treatment by reading our guide FemiLift vaginal tightening laser treatment—what it is, the benefits and how much it costs.

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perineal_tear#Complications
  2. https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/6138188/vaginal-tightening-surgery-incontinence-childbirth-menopause-cost/
  3. https://www.england.nhs.uk/commissioning/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2013/11/N-SC023.pdf
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265592.php#risks

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