Vaginal rejuvenation, or tightening, is over one thousand years old, and it was conceived by women. As mentioned in Part I, the work of the female physician Trotula de Ruggiero of Salerno was published in 1050 AD under the title Treatments for Women. In this volume are five nonsurgical recipes for "restoring" virginity. The section opens as follows:
A constrictive for the vagina, so that women may be found to be as though they were virgins, is made in this manner
Renowned Medieval historian Monica Green who spent decades researching all extant versions of the Trotula ensemble and Salernan culture prior to her definitive translation opines:
It may be that some of these constrictives were meant only to tighten the vagina to the enhance the friction of vaginal intercourse, not necessarily to produce a fake bloodflow of "defloration"; in other words, they may have been intended as aids to sexual pleasure within marriage.
The Renaissance brought major advances in anatomic knowledge through cadaveric dissections best represented by Vesalius (1514-1564) at the University of Padua in De Humana Corporis Fabrica. Owing to the invention of the printing press, this knowledge became widely disseminated. However, little if any change in took place in gynecologic surgical technique or instrumentation from that of the Greco-Roman era .
Nonetheless, celebrated French surgeon Ambroise Paré (1510-1590) in Gynaeciorium Physicus et Chirurgicus, then his pupil Jacques Guillemeau (1550-1612) in his 1609 text De la Grossesse et Accouchement des Femmes, were first to describe repairs of rectovaginal lacerations at childbirth.
Spaniard Roderico a Castro (1546-1627) described clitoridectomy by a horse hair ligature tightened daily in Philosophiae Ac Medicinae Doctoris per Europum notissimi first published in 1604.
The first illustration of excision for clitoral hypertrophy was provided by the German surgeon Johann Schultes (aka Scultetus 1595-1645) in Armamentarium Chirurgicum published posthumously in 1655.
Pierre Dionis, a Parisian surgeon, described excision of the nymphae (labiaplasty) in his Cours d’opérations de chirurgie (1707) based on his work in the late 1600s in the court of Louis XIV.
German military surgeon Lorenz Heister (1683-1758) described labia minoraplasty in full detail in his text, Institutiones Chirurgicae (1739), one of the most popular illustrated surgical texts of the eighteenth century:
The nymphae in women are sometimes so large, as not only to hang without the labia pudenda, but also to prove troublesome to them in walking, sitting, and in their conjugal embraces; and may therefore require the surgeon’s assistance. The operator is therefore in the first place to lay the patient in a proper posture, and taking hold of the nymphae with his left hand, he is then to cut off so much of them with a pair of scissors in his right, as he shall judge necessary, taking care to have in readiness styptics for the haemorrhage, and medicines to prevent the patient from fainting. When the operation is over, the wound may be dressed with some vulnerary balsam, and healed without much difficulty in the common method.
1. Vaginal rejuvenation, or tightening, is over one thousand years old, and it was conceived by women.
2. Clitoroplasty, in the Western world, was performed for appearance only through the eighteenth century.
3. Labiaplasty was an established treatment for both symptomatic and aesthetic concerns by the late seventeenth century.
Marco A. Pelosi, III, MD, is a cosmetic gynecologist, surgeon, lecturer & cofounder of the ISCG. You may contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org