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What You Should Know About Vaginal Rejuvenation

Jada Pinkett Smith claims treatments took years off her lady-parts. But what’s involved in tightening procedures — and are they safe?

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Claire Benoist/The Licensing Project
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When Jada Pinkett Smith revealed on Red Table Talk that she had undergone vaginal rejuvenation treatments, my first reaction was girl, what? But the 47-year-old actress went on to explain that she’d had the procedure to address bladder issues and, describing the results, declared “… my yoni is like a 16-year-old. I’m not kidding.” I was suddenly interested in learning more and I wasn’t alone.

Last year, physicians performed more than 32,000 surgical vaginal rejuvenation procedures. Alane Laws-Barker, an ob-gyn in Lansing, Mich., says that number is on the rise, particularly among the menopausal and post-menopausal set. “I’m seeing a lot of patients who have issues that can affect the bladder or the bowel, such as pelvic organ prolapse after childbirth, menopause or weight gain,” she says. But other patients seek her out in the hope of giving their sex lives a boost. Darlene, 59, a teacher in Detroit, is one of them. When she jumped back into dating after her divorce, Darlene soon realized the game, and her body, had changed. “Everything had shifted,” she says. “It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I didn’t have the same magic going on down there."

After talking with her doctor about her concerns, Darlene had surgical rejuvenation last year. “I wanted to get my bedroom game back,” she says. Darlene is thrilled with her results. “I feel tight like I did before I had kids,” she says. “I have a lot more confidence when I have sex,” Darlene says she told her girlfriends about it. “At first they were surprised. Then they asked for a referral.”

Vaginal rejuvenation is often performed surgically, which Laws-Barker likens to a “lift for the vagina.” Alternative, minimally-invasive procedures use either lasers, as does FemTouch, or radio waves, as does Ultra Femme 360, which is what Pinkett Smith had. Surgical rejuvenation, or vaginoplasty, is performed in a hospital on an outpatient basis. When accompanied by a medical diagnosis such as prolapse, it may be covered by insurance — no small consideration since the average cost is $8,000. Patients undergoing vaginoplasty can be given a local or general anesthetic, and the recovery time is usually one to two weeks.

Laser and radio-wave therapies can be performed by dermatologists and plastic surgeons in-office. These procedures are considered cosmetic and, therefore, are not covered by insurance. Marcy Street, a board-certified dermatologist in Okemos, Mich., who offers the FemTouch procedure, says, “Often a patient feels a difference after just two sessions, but others may need three to four treatments if they are working on scarring issues.” The procedure typically costs around $1,000 per treatment, and recovery time is approximately 48 to 72 hours.

But even as the interest in and demand for vaginal rejuvenation grows, some experts point out there is not much research to support the safety and effectiveness of non-surgical procedures. In fact, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a warning stating that lasers and other energy-based devices for vaginal rejuvenation can be unsafe. Bottom line: Discuss the options with your doctor carefully before undergoing any procedure.