The Cosmetic Laser Gynaecology Revolution
Untold thousands of women suffer from symptoms related to vaginal problems that cause not only physical discomfort or pain but social embarrassment and often sexual dysfunction.
The impact can be profound on a woman’s psychological wellbeing and sexual identity, as well as putting pressure on her intimate relationships.
Key among these problems are Vaginal Relaxation Syndrome (VRS)*, Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)* and vaginal atrophy and dryness*.
Surgical procedures are often recommended for VRS and SUI, while hormone supplements and/or various forms of lubricants are the prevailing treatments for dryness.
Yet for many women these options are not options. VRS or SUI may not be severe enough to warrant an operation, or the idea of surgery is unacceptable for various reasons.
Hormone supplementation with synthetic or even bio-identical oestrogen to restore vaginal lubrication is contraindicated for certain health conditions, including women who have, or have had breast or other oestrogen-sensitive cancers.
Other women again simply prefer not to use any form of HRT, and non-hormone lubricants are frequently reported to be insufficient.
New non-invasive laser technology is poised to stop this ‘silent epidemic’ in its tracks, offering straightforward, in-clinic treatments that take less than 15 minutes and have minimal downtime and side effects. Results are reported to be quick and lasting.
At this stage they are targeted for use by gynaecologists and plastic and cosmetic surgeons. However, as SPA+CLINIC readers well know, clients often form confidante-type relationships with trusted therapists, whether of the aesthetic or wellness variety. To be armed with knowledge of breakthroughs that have the potential to change lives further enforces that therapist’s authority and, so, a client’s enduring trust and loyalty.
The first of these lasers on the market in Australia is the recently-introduced MonaLisaTouch laser, distributed by High Tech Laser. It counteracts the effects of vaginal atrophy with a simple 10-minute treatment.
The V2LR (Vulvo-Vaginal Laser Reshaping) laser that delivers the Mona Lisa Touch treatment uses a sophisticated laser emission technology to deliver microscopic beams of laser light to the vaginal walls.
This stimulates collagen formation underneath the vaginal skin, promotes proliferation of the cells and restoration of vaginal wall strength and blood supply.
In as little as 30 days after treatment the regeneration of new tissue in the vaginal walls builds a naturally stronger structure and the protective mucosa recovers volume, hydration and elasticity.
By restoring the natural pH balance of the vaginal mucosa, and targeting the causes of vaginal atrophy, many of the symptoms such as vaginal dryness, laxity, irritation and fissuring are greatly reduced or disappear – all with virtually no side effects or discomfort.
In addition, improvements in the structure and positioning of the vagina mean that some external surgical procedures such as labiaplasty and vaginaplasty may be avoided in mild to moderate cases.
The inspiration came from the Smartxide ‘DOT Therapy’ laser has been used for many years for effective treatments on delicate areas such as the face, eyes and neck.
Soon to be introduced to Australia is Lutronic’s Action II Petit Lady, the brainchild of Dr Glen Calderhead (above), which has received CE mark clearance (ie. satisfies European Union regulatory requirements) for the treatment of VRS and SUI. It will be available here from Advanced Cosmeceuticals, who have the licence to distribute Lutronic products.
Lutronic says the laser tightens vaginal tissues, remodels collagen and rejuvenates the vulva to revive the sensations while revitalising the tissues of the vagina, thereby facilitating more or renewed lubrication.
Action II Petit Lady has already been successful in both Asia and the Middle East. In clinical trials conducted in South Korea (where it was developed) and Japan, the benefits for menopausal women suffering acute vaginal atrophy and dryness have proved to be dramatic.
In Australia to introduce the revolutionary device and speak at the A5M and Aesthetic Medicine Conference in Melbourne over the weekend, Dr Calderhead – aka the ‘father of 830 nm LED phototheraphy’; developer of Omnilux and Healite II (pictured above) – has been overwhelmed by the interest shown in Petit Lady.
‘Clinicians have been looking for a better minimally or non invasive solution to vaginal problems that provides short downtimes and low risk of side effects, such as pain or bleeding,’ says Dr Calderhead.
‘The Action II Petit Lady is a non-surgical, non-invasive and easy to perform laser treatment that enables a practitioner to effectively treat a wide range of vulva-vaginal symptoms and conditions and helps patients solve their most private problems.
‘Results can be seen almost immediately but three treatments are usually recommended for optimum effect and to date the results have been lasting.’
Dr Calderhead says that, unlike after gynaecological surgery, there is no need to abstain from sex after a Petit Lady treatment because there is no recovery time as such. ‘However, we do recommend patients wait until the day after treatment,’ he says. ‘Then they are actively encouraged to have sex to help promote the benefits of the treatment.’
The original Action II technology is an Erbium YAG laser used to treat dermatological issues such as scars, epidermal benign disorder and epidermal pigment lesions. It aims to treat the target area with micron-level precision and very little thermal conduction; ergo so as comfortable as possible for the patient.
‘Over time it became obvious to us that it had potential for gynaecological application,’ says Dr Calderhead. ‘That was the genesis of Action II Petit Lady.’
To perform the intra-vaginal treatment, a gold-plated ‘cage’ is first inserted and the laser handpiece is fitted into that. Dr Caderhead says that patients experience a sensation of warmth, but no pain, and the treatment is completed is around 15 minutes.
‘We have now treated hundreds of patients with Action II Petit Lady who are delighted with their outcomes,’ says Dr Calderhead. ‘We are not only treating their vaginal problems but in many cases their most important intimate relationships. That aspect of the Petit Lady cannot be underestimated.’
TYPES OF VAGINAL PROBLEMS
- VRS is a quite common medical condition described as a loss of the optimal vaginal structure and is usually associated with vaginal child delivery and natural progression. It can affect sexual gratification because the vaginal walls are not as ‘tight’ as they were.
- SUI refers to the involuntary loss of control of the bladder and can occur following a normal activity, such as coughing, sneezing, running, heavy lifting or even just bending over. Current VRS and SUI treatments include surgical procedures and pharmacological therapies; the surgical options available require long recovery and, like pharmacological options, may cause unwanted side effects.
- Vaginal dryness can be extremely uncomfortable and lead to itching, burning and painful intercourse. In severe cases, it can also lead to women avoiding sex altogether, with huge ramifications for relationships.
Among the key causes of vaginal dryness is the drop in oestrogen levels as a result of life, particularly during and after menopause. Normally the walls of the vagina stay lubricated with a thin layer of clear fluid. Oestrogen helps maintain that fluid and keeps the lining of the vagina healthy, thick, and elastic.
The menopausal drop in oestrogen levels reduces the amount of moisture available and also makes the vagina thinner and less elastic. This is called vaginal atrophy.
- Other causes of vaginal dryness include:
- Childbirth and breastfeeding
- Radiation or chemotherapy treatment for cancer
- Surgical removal of the ovaries
- Anti-oestrogen medications used to treat uterine fibroids or endometriosis
- Allergy and cold medications and certain antidepressants