We hear a lot about tummy tuck surgery and breast lifts when mommy makeovers are discussed, but very little is usually said about issues that arise below the bikini line. This is a shame, because vaginal rejuvenation is an essential aspect of recovering from the stresses of pregnancy. Moreover, because many women are hesitant to discuss childbirth-related vaginal damage, they often remain unaware that help is available in this area. Procedures like labiaplasty and Geneveve can repair the exterior and interior of the vagina and thereby ease physical discomfort and feelings of self-consciousness.
How Does the Vagina Change During Pregnancy and Childbirth?
Like many areas of the body, the vagina changes profoundly during pregnancy. Hormonal shifts, such as an increase in the hormones estrogen and progesterone, causes the labia to grow, sometimes significantly. (In some cases, the labia majora—the hair-covered outer lips of the vagina—retract and just the labia minora increases in size.) The color of the labia may darken as well.
During childbirth, the already enlarged labia minora must stretch significantly in order to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal. In many cases, this results in tissue looseness and the labia minora may also tear. Additionally, pressure placed on the vaginal walls during birth causes the walls to become looser than they were before. (This is why menstrual cup users must always opt for the largest available size of cup if they have given birth vaginally, even if they are very young women.)
For some women, most of the above issues resolve on their own. After blood flow returns to normal, their labias shrink back to their former size. Even childbirth-related tears in the labia minora heal in most women after about 7 to 10 days.
However, many women do not bounce back entirely from childbirth. Some women experience enduring looseness and enlargement of the labia minora, a situation which can become incredibly uncomfortable. Because the labia minora is meant to be protected by the labia majora, it is highly susceptible to chafing, irritation, and infection when it’s routinely exposed. (It’s not uncommon for women with this condition to get four or more yeast infections per year—a painful, inconvenient, and potentially dangerous situation.) Simple actions that we take for granted, such as the ability to walk, run, or sit down comfortably, produce pain and irritation for women with an exposed labia. That’s why most doctors recommend that these women get a procedure known as “labiaplasty” to correct the size and shape of their outer vaginal region.
More commonly, women experience sustained looseness inside the vagina due to the stress that childbirth places on the vaginal walls. This looseness can become profound if the woman in question has multiple children or is over the age of 30 when she gives birth.
Though this condition is not as uncomfortable as an extended labia minora, it still has unexpected consequences for the woman suffering from it. Loosened vaginal walls can make it more difficult for a woman to experience pleasure during sex and it can raise a woman’s risk of suffering complications like urinary incontinence and UTIs. Fortunately, there is an innovative new nonsurgical treatment available called Geneveve that can treat vaginal looseness.
Because vaginal looseness is internal, women don’t always realize they are suffering from weakened vaginal walls. Loosened vaginal walls tend to cause a number of symptoms which, if you recognize them, can help you assess your own situation. You may have a loose vaginal cavity of you experience any of the following issues:
- You suffer from incontinence and/or get frequent urinary tract infections. When a woman experiences incontinence, frequent urine leakage tends to lead to irritation within the urinary tract. This can result in infections.
- You cannot wear even a large tampon or menstrual cup without it slipping. Feminine hygiene products are designed to fit the average vagina. If you could use a tampon or menstrual cup before your pregnancy but now find you cannot wear one without it exiting your vagina, chances are good that you’re experiencing a problematic level of vaginal looseness.
- You find it hard to achieve an orgasm. Many women who experience less sexual pleasure after giving birth simply blame the problem on hormonal fluctuations or the stress of having a new baby. While both of these factors can contribute, if you feel sexual desire yet still regularly have a hard time achieving climax (and this was not normal for you before you had a baby), then vaginal looseness may be to blame.
If you have any of the above problems, you should ask a plastic surgeon about the possibility of having Geneveve.
What is Geneveve?
Geneveve is what is known as a nonsurgical cosmetic procedure. This means that no incisions are made during the Geneveve treatment and you will not experience significant pain during or after the procedure. You will also be able to return to your normal activities soon after having Geneveve—a great advantage for women who have a baby to look after! Best of all, most women only need one 30 minute Geneveve treatment session to enjoy full vaginal rejuvenation.
During Geneveve, a special device that emits cryogen-cooled monopolar radiofrequency (CMRF) waves is inserted into the vagina. Like other radiofrequency-based treatments, Geneveve gently warms the tissue being treated while also penetrating deep below its surface layer. At the same time, Geneveve cools the tissue to make sure the tissues are kept safe. In doing so, it stimulates the tissue to produce a dramatic surge of a compound known as collagen. Collagen is the protein in our body responsible for keeping our tissues elastic and tight. This collagen surge causes the vaginal walls to gradually “heal” and become tighter like they were before pregnancy. These results are usually very long-lasting, but some women opt to have Geneveve re-applied every year. This can help to combat age-related vaginal looseness. It can also help treat pregnancy-related conditions like stress incontinence.
Note that post-menopausal women who have never had children also make ideal Geneveve candidates. Because estrogen levels drop rapidly after menopause and estrogen is linked to collagen production, many women notice a sudden change in the condition of their vagina after menopause. Regular Geneveve treatments can help stave off this age-related vaginal laxity before it becomes severe.
While most women achieve an incredible improvement after one treatment, many patients who undergo Geneveve opt for a series of treatments. Patients typically see a massive improvement 1-3 months after their series of treatments.
What is Labiaplasty?
Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure wherein loose skin is removed from the labia minora so that it can be resized and tightened. Because labiaplasty is a surgical procedure, it will require being put under anesthesia and requires patients to book some “down time” in which to rest and recover.
Fortunately, while the labiaplasty procedure requires a lot of surgical skill, it’s fairly quick to perform. The whole procedure usually takes less than an hour to complete, so you will be able to go home on the same day you have surgery. Recovery, on the other hand, is more rigorous owing to the delicate nature of the tissues involved. You can expect to rest completely for 10 to 14 days, and you will have to avoid rigorous exercise and sexual activity for at least 4 to 6 weeks after having this procedure. You will also have to avoid putting pressure on the vaginal area, which includes not sitting directly on it. Finally, your surgeon will give you special instructions on how to cleanse and care for the incisions sites, and we strongly urge you to follow them. Because the labia is so fragile, it’s particularly prone to post-surgical infections when patients are not vigilant about proper hygiene.
Due to the involved nature of labiaplasty surgery, most plastic surgeons only suggest this procedure when a patient has genuine labial looseness that is causing her significant discomfort or embarrassment. Like any patient that hopes to undergo a cosmetic procedure, any patient that wants to undergo a labiaplasty should be in good health and have realistic expectations for what a labiaplasty can do.
If you’re seriously considering a labiaplasty, you should talk to either a gynecologist or a board certified plastic surgeon about your concerns. He or she will be able to tell you whether or not your vagina falls within the normal range of expected variations. He or she will also be able to reassure you that you have nothing to be embarrassed about—every woman is different.
Ideally, the surgeon you choose should be board certified, a member of one or more plastic surgery societies, and have a history of performing successful labiaplasties. Take the time to verify your surgeon’s credentials and view her portfolio of labiaplasty “before and after” photographs.
A Better Vagina, a Better Life
If you’re a new mom, you’re already coping with enough challenges—don’t let your vagina become one of them. By seeking out treatments like labiaplasty and Geneveve, you can restore sensation to your vagina, boost your confidence, minimize your level of physical comfort, and avoid potentially dangerous medical issues. Yes, it’s true that having surgery is a big commitment and you will need to arrange for help with childcare duties, but you’re worth the investment. You and your body have given their all to create beautiful babies—now it’s time to give back.
And don’t forget to have your labiaplasty done by a compassionate, caring surgeon: someone who truly understands why a labiaplasty or Geneveve might be a life changing procedure for you. If you’re searching for the right surgeon, look no further than the amazing team from the Plastic Surgery Center of Nashville. Dr. Mary Gingrass and Dr. Melinda Haw are more than just some of the top female plastic surgeons in the country, they’re truly innovators and thought leaders in their field. Drs. Gingrass and Dr. Haw have a unique insight as female plastic surgeons, and they’ll make sure to treat your case with the kindness and understanding it deserves. To learn more about how labiaplasty and Geneveve can help you, contact the Plastic Surgery Center of Nashville now for a consultation.