Do Energy-Based ‘Vaginal Rejuvenation’ Procedures Work?

While research is expanding, many experts still urge caution.

Doctor prepares energy-based vaginal rejuvenation device

Updated on February 8, 2023.

Vaginal rejuvenation covers aesthetic and functional procedures that aim to correct and restore the structure and integrity of the vagina and tissues surrounding it. It’s not an actual medical term but a marketing term geared toward people who’ve experienced vaginal issues or changes due to:

  • Aging
  • Childbirth
  • Genetics
  • Menopause
  • Physical trauma

For instance, vaginal birth can result in the vagina feeling looser and laxer. This may also occur during menopause since levels of the hormone estrogen wane around this time frame.

This can cause vaginal atrophy. The official term for which has been changed to genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM).

GSM can cause the tissues that line the inside of the vagina to become dry, thin, and inflamed. The vaginal walls also grow more flaccid.

Some people feel dissatisfied with the look and feel of their vaginas. For others, these changes can lead to:

As such, some people look to various procedures to strengthen and tighten the vaginal wall and improve its elasticity. They also seek to rehydrate the vaginal mucosa, the vagina’s mucous-producing membranes.

Surgery can alter or rebuild the pelvic floor and vaginal tissues and structures. But some people prefer less invasive options. This is where energy-based vaginal rejuvenation products and procedures come in.

Certain energy-based devices claim to lift and tighten the skin. These treatments may result in modest to more noticeable results.

But this depends on the type of energy-based procedure, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. These can range from noninvasive to minimally invasive.

You’re likely to notice results with more invasive procedures. But bear in mind that use of these devices inside the vaginal canal or vulva (outer part of the female genitals) involves newer approaches that haven’t been fully vetted.

Some research suggests these nonsurgical procedures may be safe and effective in the short term. But their long-term effectiveness and safety profile aren’t yet known.

What is energy-based vaginal rejuvenation?

Each type of energy-based vaginal rejuvenation device works differently. In general, these devices use laser or radiofrequency (RF) technology.

They heat the top layers of vaginal tissue to produce and remodel proteins made by your tissues called collagen and elastin. Together, these proteins create a network of fibers that help tone and tighten the vagina.

The procedures aim to regenerate the mucosa, which helps the vagina stay moist. It may also prompt growth of new blood vessels and boost blood flow to the area.

All said, energy-based vaginal rejuvenation procedures have been shown to be most effective for:

They usually cause little to no pain. But you may feel warmth or a quick zap like a rubber band snapping as your healthcare provider (HCP) moves the device along the treatment area.

In most cases, you won’t need anesthesia. If needed, your HCP can apply a topical numbing agent.

Each session can take 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the:

  • Treatment areas
  • Procedure and device type
  • Device intensity or strength used

You usually won’t need to take time off to recover. The redness and swelling often last for a few days at most. But you’ll need to abstain from sex for about three days to allow the swelling to go down and the area to heal.

Vaginal rejuvenation sessions are scheduled about six weeks apart. It often takes multiple sessions to notice a difference or achieve the results you want. Results are often temporary.

What is laser vaginal rejuvenation?

These vaginal rejuvenation treatments deliver laser energy to the vaginal wall. Your HCP inserts a probe or wand into the vagina or guides it across the outside of it. They gently rotate and glide the probe back and forth to distribute heat to the target area.

What is radiofrequency vaginal rejuvenation?

RF devices for vaginal rejuvenation use electromagnetic waves to deliver focused heat to the target area. This may help tighten the vagina and improve its sensitivity.

RF devices are classified based on the number of electrodes or active electrical poles used for treatment. They can be:

  • Monopolar = one active pole
  • Bipolar = two active poles
  • Tripolar = three active poles
  • Quadripolar = four active poles
  • Multipolar = multiple active poles

Different energy modes can also be combined in the same device. RF with pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) is an example of this.

PEMF devices release short, intermittent pulses of electromagnetic current that penetrate vaginal tissue. This helps produce more collagen and new blood vessels.

PEMF may also help:

Are energy devices approved for vaginal rejuvenation?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved any energy-based device for treatment of vaginal laxity or other genitourinary (GU) conditions. In fact, then-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued an advisory in July 2018 warning people about procedures that destroy or reshape vaginal tissue using these devices.

The FDA cites the lack of rigorous clinical trials and long-term, peer-reviewed studies to support the use of these devices for these purposes. They assert, “The full extent of the risks is unknown. But these reports indicate these procedures can cause serious harm.”

Gottlieb points to “numerous cases of vaginal burns, scarring, pain during sexual intercourse, and recurring or chronic pain” following energy-based vaginal rejuvenation procedures.

The advisory also cautions HCPs who perform these procedures to tread carefully. They remind HCPs and the public at large that these devices haven’t received FDA approval to treat any GU symptoms.

Do vaginal rejuvenation treatments carry risks?

Using these devices for this purpose can result in:

  • Altered vaginal sensation
  • Bleeding
  • Burns
  • Infection
  • Scarring and adhesions (bands of scar tissue that bind or stick together)
  • Short-term or recurring pain

The FDA’s 2018 advisory doesn’t address surgical procedures that fall under the vaginal rejuvenation umbrella. But these surgeries are not without controversy.

There’s usually no medical reason for these surgeries, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) affirms in their practice guidelines.

ACOG urges HCPs to discuss the risks and benefits of these procedures with patients who ask for them. It’s imperative that HCPs inform their patients about the lack of research supporting their effectiveness, they stress.

Has research on energy-based treatments evolved?

More recent research paints energy-based vaginal rejuvenation in a somewhat more favorable light. One such review of studies was published in 2021 in Current Sexual Health Reports.

The authors of the 76-study review conclude that energy-based devices may improve some functional vaginal problems. They note that serious side effects rarely occur.

They also point to the improved study design used in these studies. Still, they emphasize that long-term safety concerns remain.

One 2022 study published in Lasers in Medical Science showed RF may help with sexual function. But the authors of the study caution that larger studies are needed to confirm the value of the procedures for the general population. Studies involving more participants for lengthier periods can help shine further light on the safety and effectiveness of these procedures.

A small 2021 study published in Annals of Translational Medicine recommends vaginal laser treatments for women with mild symptoms. This after 16 participants with a lighter degree of vaginal laxity showed some improvements after laser treatment. Of these 16 people, 13 were satisfied with their results.

The authors of the study note that surgical treatment such as vaginoplasty may be better suited for people with moderate to severe vaginal laxity. Laser and other nonsurgical treatments may be sufficient for mild vaginal laxity.

Are there alternatives to vaginal rejuvenation?

Your reasons for wanting vaginal rejuvenation are understandable. It’s an intimate and personal choice.

If you’re considering treatment for GSM or GU symptoms, talk with your HCP about which ones might work best for you. This often starts with a physical exam and a frank talk about your current symptoms and sexual history, habits, and activities.

This helps your HCP determine what’s causing your symptoms and which treatments may help. These might include:

Article sources open article sources
  • American Academy of Dermatology Association. Many Ways to Firm Sagging Skin. Accessed January 9, 2023.
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Pelvic Support Problems. Last updated November 2021.
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Vaginal Rejuvenation, Labiaplasty, and Other Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery. Last updated April 2021.
  • Angelou K, Grigoriadis T, Diakosavvas M, Zacharakis D, Athanasiou S. The genitourinary syndrome of menopause: An Overview of the recent data. Cureus. 2020;12(4):e7586. doi:10.7759/cureus.7586
  • Belal B, Nguyen H. Vaginal Atrophy. StatPearls [Internet]. Last updated July 4, 2022.
  • Bujnak A, Crowder CA, Krychman ML. 2021. Energy-based devices for functional vaginal problems: Issues and answers.” Curr Sex Health Rep. 2021;13:1–13. doi:10.1007/s11930-021-00302-x
  • Cheng C, Cao Y, Ma SX, Cheng KX, Zhang YF, Liu Y. The strategy for vaginal rejuvenation: CO2 laser or vaginoplasty? Ann Transl Med. 2021;9(7):604. doi:10.21037/atm-20-5655
  • Cleveland Clinic. Vaginal Rejuvenation.” Last updated September 1, 2022.
  • Desai SA, Kroumpouzos G, Sadick N. Vaginal rejuvenation: From scalpel to wands. Int J Womens Dermatol. 2019;5(2):79-84. doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2019.02.003
  • Li Q. The effects of yoga exercise on pelvic floor rehabilitation of postpartum women. J Healthc Eng. 2022;2022:1924232. doi:10.1155/2022/1924232
  • Stewart GM, Wheatley-Guy CM, Johnson BD, Shen WK, Kim CH. Impact of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy on vascular function and blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. J Clin Hypertens. 2020;22(6):1083-1089. doi:10.1111/jch.13877
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on Efforts to Safeguard Women’s Health From Deceptive Health Claims and Significant Risks Related to Devices Marketed for Use in Medical Procedures for ‘Vaginal Rejuvenation.’ Published July 30, 2018.
  • Wattanakrai P, Limpjaroenviriyakul N, Thongtan D, Wattanayingcharoenchai R, Manonai J. The efficacy and safety of a combined multipolar radiofrequency with pulsed electromagnetic field technology for the treatment of vaginal laxity: A double-blinded, randomized, sham-controlled trial. Lasers Med Sci. 2022;37(3):1829-1842. doi:10.1007/s10103-021-03438-3

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