For Australian women, over the last decade cosmetic tweaking has moved firmly into the mainstream, becoming a billion-dollar industry locally.
Homegrown celebs, pilates mums, office workers and wealthy women ‘of a certain age’ are restoring volume to lips, eyes and cheeks with fillers – and freezing frown muscles with $350 million worth of ‘Botox’ a year to create glass-smooth foreheads.
Aesthetic surgery is also more popular than ever, as cosmetic procedures in Australia now exceed the spend per capita of the US – according to the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery (we currently rank number 18 globally in plastic surgery procedures performed).
And now the quest for physical perfection and anti-ageing offers ‘designer vaginas’ as the magic wand of cosmetic procedures travels further south, and female ‘lady gardens’ become the next focus.
‘Designer vaginas’ are more popular, as the magic wand of cosmetic procedures travels further south, and female ‘ladygardens’ become the next focus
Just as lasers and injectables are the turbocharged version of face creams, dermal filler, lasers, even surgical tightening have become the high-tech update for vaginas, the next step after Brazilians and internal pelvic floor contractions, or ‘Kegel’ exercises.
‘Women are increasingly exploring their options with vaginal rejuvenation,’ says Sydney-based Dr Stephen Lowe, a cosmetic specialist at Total Face Group in Chatswood.
The move to low and high impact treatments for the vagina is market driven explains Dr Lowe, with genuine embarrassment and frustration fuelling the trend for a ‘designer vagina’.
‘Women are increasingly exploring their options with vaginal rejuvenation,’ says Dr Stephen Lowe
‘Many women are unhappy about the feel and appearance of their genital region, especially after the delivery of a baby, which can have a significant effect on their self-esteem and sex lives.’
Sometimes it’s a ‘renovation’ that women seek after different life stages. ‘Pregnancy and menopause can cause structural changes to the vaginal walls and surrounding tissue, including the pelvic floor,’ he says.
Other issues arise post-fertility. ‘Oestrogen levels deplete post-menopause and vaginal tissue becomes thinner, less elastic, drier and more fragile,’ he tells FEMAIL. ‘This can make intercourse painful and undesirable and create urinary incontinence.’
In other cases the client’s dissatisfaction is purely aesthetic, driving them to labiaplasty surgery, the removal of excess skin from the outside of the vagina (between $3500-$5000).
‘Some women seek a surgical option if they feel their labia majora (outer lips) are too big and look out of proportion – which can also cause rubbing and discomfort,’ he says.
Labiaplasty showed a 45 per cent rise globally, the largest increase in any procedure, according to the latest statistics from ISAPS (International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery).
Dr Lowe says genuine embarrassment and frustration is fuelling the ‘designer vagina’ trend
Another surgical procedure, vaginoplasty ($5000-$8000), reduces the size of the interior canal, making it tighter, and increasing sexual gratification.
Although this intimate body region was once considered a strictly behind-closed-doors subject, vaginal rejuvenation is increasingly publicised.
Sharon Osbourne brazened it out on the Graham Norton Show, admitting: ‘Having my vagina tightened…was excruciating.’ The Kardashians sisters, the eternal lightning rod of pop culture, are on board with having their fannies fluffed the non-surgical way.
‘All they do is talk about vagina laser,’ quipped Khloé in her show, Kocktails with Khloé. Melissa McCarthy showcases designer vaginas for comedic shock effect in her comedy The Boss (2016). ‘They call it a vaguvenation,’ purrs her character. ‘Mine is like a soft silk coin purse.’
Contemporary women are drawn to less invasive non-surgical alternatives such as laser, due to less pain, down-time and expense.
‘Non-surgical treatments mostly focus on improving the functioning of the vagina walls,’ explains Dr Lowe.
‘A small probe is inserted into the vagina and either laser or radio frequency (RF) heat energy is used to heat the tissue, to stimulate the production of collagen and improve the vaginal skin blood supply, helping the normal skin folds that line the vagina become more elastic and tight. This treatment is ideal for post-natal and post-menopausal women, makes sexual intercourse more comfortable and enjoyable and is virtually painless.’ Filler costs about $700, while laser is about $800 a session.
Kelly, a Melbourne entrepreneur, treated herself to both a surgical and non-surgical ‘vaginal overhaul’ as an empty nester present to herself after raising two children.
‘I knew that I had totally changed ‘down there’ but felt in my power as a mature woman,’ she tells FEMAIL.
‘I thought, imagine having the p***y function of a 20 year-old combined with the brain of a 41 year-old!’
Labiaplasty showed a 45 per cent rise globally, the largest increase in any procedure, according to the latest statistics from International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
She happily reels off what she calls her ‘inner and outer landscaping’ list (total cost $9000): labiaplasty surgery; Mona Lisa laser on vaginal walls and outer vagina; Perlane filler on her labia majora (outer lips) and a ‘p***y face lift’ – which lifts the pubis mons by shortening the skin at the pubic hair line.
‘One happy by-product of the lift is that I can have orgasms a lot more easily. I went the whole hog, and it’s not for everyone, but I feel like I have a new lease on life.’
But it isn’t just the mums who want to turn back the clock. Vaginal rejuvenation can become a part of any woman’s anti-ageing arsenal.
‘The peri-vaginal skin is prone to the same ageing as faces – thinning, wrinkling and altered pigmentation,’ says Dr Lowe.
‘So we have the same options to improve the vaginal skin – namely dermal fillers, skin lasers and platelet-rich plasma (PRP).’ Nicknamed the ‘vampire facial’ for faces, PRP re-injects the client’s own blood – richer in blood platelets due to centrifugal action – back into the skin. ‘It stimulates skin to produce more collagen and elastin, improving blood supply and completely rejuvenating the ageing labial skin.’ It costs about $500 but most women will need repeat treatments.
With the advance of high tech solutions to brake-pad the effects of ageing and childbirth, it looks like a lady’s most intimate area – more exposed than ever in the age of full waxing – has moved on from the basic maintenance of old (soap and water) forevermore. So what’s next for beauty downunder?
‘Doctors on the cutting edge are starting to use PRP to reportedly improve the blood supply and sensation to the clitoris and G-spot,’ says Dr Lowe, predicting that sexual pleasure will prove as much a motivator as vanity and comfort.