Beauty trends come and go. From necklines to shoulder pads to hair height, women are constantly shedding yesterday’s image to keep up with tomorrow’s standards.
Even physical attributes become more or less desirable. In the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe, who had a BMI of 20, became a pillar of American beauty with voluptuous curves. Then in the 1960s, supermodel Twiggy’s thin frame became the ideal body type — she had a BMI of 15.
So far in the 2000s, thinness has remained a standard of beauty, but women’s features have also become subject to trends: bigger lips, bigger breasts, and a bigger backside.
Now, however, a new trend is sweeping American cosmetic concerns: vaginal appearance.
As medical technology advances, more and more procedures — including elective ones — become available to the average person. And with accessibility often comes popularity.
A number of celebrities have already taken to the trend, undergoing laser vaginal rejuvenation treatments, otherwise referred to as laser vaginal tightening.
Beauty moguls Kourtney and Kim Kardashian apparently swear by the “re-virginizing” procedure, according to their sister Khloe. Since that revelation, a number of women have opted for the treatment, such as “Real Housewives of Orange County” star Kelly Dodd and, most recently, “Teen Mom” starlet Farrah Abraham.
On Saturday, Abraham took to Instagram to share pictures and videos — which weren’t graphic — of her visit to the Beverly Hills Rejuvenation Center.
She underwent the advertised “painless” procedure just a day before appearing at the MTV Video Music Awards:
Her caption read:
“Loving my lady parts! […] Schedule your noninvasive appointment today.”
According to the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, the rejuvenation procedure targets “stress urinary incontinence; vaginal atrophy; dryness; and physiologic distress affecting a woman’s quality of life, self-confidence, and sexuality.”
Kardashian dermatologist Harold Lancer, M.D., told Elle exactly how the laser works:
“[It] uses radio frequency energy to gently heat tissue to rejuvenate collagen. A special wand applicator delivers energy to the external labia and vulvar tissues, helping to restore normal tissue tone and function. The hand piece may also deliver radio frequency energy to the internal vaginal walls to revive both atrophic tissue and other structures.”
In other words, it targets the collagen on a woman’s vagina. He continued to explain that by heating the skin, collagen can change by “immediately contracting,” or tightening.
Aside from aiding vaginal dryness and incontinence, most professionals who offer the procedure almost always mention that the laser treatment also increases a woman’s sexual pleasure.
But there’s a huge problem with that claim.
Thomas G. Stovall, a past president of the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons, told The Washington Post that vaginal rejuvenations are a “ripoff” in that sense:
“There is absolutely zero scientific literature that supports […] the notion that firing a laser of any kind will tighten [vaginal] muscles.”
He continued, saying:
“Most sexual gratification has nothing to do with your vaginal muscle tone.”
ABC News spoke with Dr. Cheryl B. Iglesia, a reconstructive pelvic surgeon and director of the female program at the National Center for Advanced Pelvic Surgery in Washington, D.C. She said the fad of vaginal rejuvenation is, quite frankly, alarming and unnecessary:
“Everyone sees ‘Sex in the City’ and are getting their public hair removed and looking down there. They are watching Internet porn and looking at Playboy and Penthouse with a lot of touched up and airbrushed pictures. They feel like they are abnormal.”
When ABC News asked Dr. Bernard Stern, an OB/GYN certified in plastic surgery, he danced around the subject of sexual satisfaction improvement:
“I am not guaranteeing increased sexual response. If a woman perceives her labia and or vagina as improved from vaginal cosmetic surgery [another form of vaginal rejuvenation], it can affect her quality of life and self-esteem, and therefore she may experience increased female sexual response.”
Essentially, most reported benefits have either regarded an improvement in vaginal dryness, incontinence, or a confidence boost.
Even RHOC star Kelly Dodd raved about how it helped her incontinence, but not once did she particularly mention tightness or heightened sexual experiences. She did, however, say “it changed my life.”
Lancer confirmed the confidence-boosting effect the procedure has on patients, telling Elle:
“About 35 percent are looking to improve the sexual experience for themselves and their partner; not only does [it] help with the biology, it has a tremendous impact on boosting self-esteem and confidence, which translates to all aspects of her life, intimate or otherwise.”
This leaves people wondering, who is really benefitting from these treatments?
St. Louis plastic surgeon V. Leroy Young, former chairman of the emerging trends task force of the plastic surgeons’ society, told The Washington Post:
“The question I have is, is this being done for the benefit of the woman — or someone else?”
He said many women undergo vaginal rejuvenation because a man has said to them:
“Honey, you don’t look like the girl in the movie.”
According to the Consulting Room, the laser treatment also comes with some dangerous risks, although reportedly rare:
Expect to experience some tenderness following treatment. Some women also experience a watery discharge or spotting for a day or so following treatment. Although rare, there is a potential risk from the use of fractional carbon dioxide lasers of burns or necrosis (tissue death) if an area is over treated with the energy by mistake.
So while the “Teen Mom” star and other celebs privy to expensive, optional cosmetic procedures are “loving” their results, more and more women develop the desire to keep up with the vaginal beauty trend.
The question remains: What’s really the point?