Mel B recently revealed she had the inside of her vagina "scraped" to remove all traces of her ex husband, Stephen Belafonte. “They scraped the inside of my vagina and put new tissue in. It’s almost like a rape victim would do – essentially, you want to scrub yourself clean," she said in an interview with The Guardian to promote her new memoir, Brutally Honest. In the book she claims Belafonte abused her physically and emotionally for years.
The 43-year-old elaborated further in an episode of Jessie Ware's podcast, 'Table Manners', four days later. "I didn’t really need a rejuvenation so I didn’t get that done, but the procedure is very similar to what a woman would get done," she said, before explaining her motivation. "What I did was a bit like, and I say this very candidly but it’s actually very important, a bit like a rape victim. When you’ve been raped, you wanna scrub any remnants off your body, inside outside, of that person, so you can just erase it."
Mel B continued: "I went to Dr Matlock and I said, I don’t want to feel like the last person that was inside my vagina was this monster. He examined me, he said... 'legally there’s nothing I can do about that because you don’t need anything done'. I said could he just go in there and get everything out, but then pack it with new fresh tissue."
Mel B explained that most women undergo the procedure "because they want to be made smaller," but she wanted to be "clean and new inside". In a similar vain, she said she had a tattoo bearing Belafonte's name "cut off" rather than removed with a laser, against advice from her doctor. Mel B explained that she wanted to go ahead for "psychological" reasons. "If he's cut from my body, he's cut from my life," she asserted, adding that she now keeps the skin in her kitchen.
Mel B has spoken in detail about the physical and psychological abuse she claims to have suffered at the hands of Belafonte and was granted a new restraining order against him in June. The pair split in 2017 and their divorce was finalised last month.
The cosmetic gynaecologist who Mel B claims to have carried out her procedure, Beverly Hills-based Dr Matlock, offers 12 cosmetic female genital plastic surgery procedures, on his website. These include labiaplasty and laser vaginal rejuvenation, which the US Food and Drug Administration issued a health warning against in July. Dr Matlock was described as "controversial" in 2013 for inventing the "G-shot", an internal injection which he claimed amplified women's orgasms. At the time, British consultant plastic surgeon Paul Banwell described it as "gimmick surgery" and warned of potential "scarring and a reduction of libido over time."
Since Mel B's revelation, gynaecologists have spoken out against procedures that involve "scraping" the vagina, and warned other women not to follow suit. Dr Fiona Mattatall, an obstetrician gynaecologist in Calgary, Canada, tweeted saying she "would not recommend a vaginal cleanse that includes scraping of the walls (even to rid traces of an ex)," and she explained the potential risks to Refinery29.
Your Friendly Neighbourhood Gynaecologist would not recommend a vaginal cleanse that includes scraping of the walls (even to rid traces of an ex) 🤦🏻♀️ Maybe the press can stop this celebrity vagina woo fixation? @DrJenGunter @CaulfieldTimhttps://t.co/3DmG9TvYIZ— Dr. Fiona Mattatall (@FionaMattatall) December 9, 2018
"'Scraping' would suggest removal or abrasion of surface cell layers, which act as a physical barrier to microbes which populate the vagina. I imagine bleeding and infection would be the risks, but this is pure speculation," she says.
Dr Mattatall said reading about Mel B's story was the first time she had heard of a woman having her vagina scraped for cosmetic reasons, and she would advise against it until research has been conducted into its safety. "I would discourage it until we have good evidence of risks versus benefits."
Women, should never, ever have their vagina scraped
Dr Jen Gunter
Dr Jen Gunter, the gynaecologist, obstetrician, and vaginal health expert famous for discrediting some of Goop's most dubious claims, and author of The Vagina Bible, due to be published next year, also cautioned against anything that involves "scraping" a woman's vagina because of the potentially serious risks.
"Women, should never, ever have their vagina scraped," she told Refinery29. "Women should also not be offered untested procedures that seem to have no medical value. Any scraping of the vaginal epithelium [tissue] could affect the vaginal ecosystem and theoretically could spread HPV locally and would increase a women’s vulnerability to infection."
Dr Gunter continued: "Douching damages the vagina so this sounds much worse. Your vaginal epithelium completely regenerates itself every 96 hours. The surface cells are shed every four hours. If you want to remove physical residue of some horrible man’s penis, your vagina has you covered."
Dr Gunter said "it would be unethical" for a cosmetic surgeon to perform such a procedure, and said she had never heard of "vaginal scraping" until being notified about Mel B's comments. "Perhaps Mel B was not describing it correctly and there was a miscommunication of sorts," she added.
Others, including women's health specialists, writers and commentators, also expressed their concerns about the procedure.
This sounds too much like going back to the (not so distant) time when women who weren't virgins or who had had more than one sexual partner were considered spoiled, dirty, impure. I ache with anger.— hmm. (@raispartisto) December 9, 2018
Refinery29 has contacted Dr Matlock for comment.
For more news and reporting on cosmetic and non-cosmetic procedures targeted at women's vaginas, visit our #YourVaginasFine microsite.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.