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Estrogen deficiency leads to a variety of physical changes of the vulva, vagina and lower urinary tract. These can include vaginal dryness, burning, irritation, lack of lubrication, painful intercourse, as well as urinary symptoms of urgency, painful urination and urinary tract infections. Vaginal discomfort and urinary incontinence can also occur in pre-menopause and after childbirth.
These symptoms are chronic in nature and may worsen with time jeopardizing sexual function and the quality of life. Local estrogen treatment may be effective to treat vaginal changes, however, the data on its safety, particularly in women with a personal history of estrogen-dependent tumors, is lacking.
Laser rejuvenation has been shown to be effective and safe in treating the troublesome vaginal and urinary conditions of menopause, increasing sexual function and improving the quality of life.
The CO2 fractional laser gently and painlessly acts on the vaginal walls through a special scanner. This action creates indistinguishable micro-lesions that are required for the production of new collagen which reorganizes and re-equilibrates the components of the vaginal mucosa and the urogenital structures.
A tissue regeneration process lasting numerous weeks is triggered with each laser treatment. Significant improvements can be seen even after the first treatment: the vaginal mucosa becomes more nourished and hydrated and the epithelium becomes thicker, more toned and elastic. The correct vaginal pH becomes re-established, which helps maintain its natural protective barrier and reduces the risk of infection. Enhanced vaginal tissues at the urethral opening may reduce problems with incontinence and improve sexual function. However, laser rejuvenation in itself cannot guarantee a heightened sexual response, since desire, arousal and orgasm are complex, highly personal responses.
There are some minimal risks. Most women report temporary side effects, slight redness or swelling. This discomfort usually disappears in few days.
For best results, we recommend 2-3 treatments that are 4-6 weeks apart, followed by one treatment annually.
The results are immediate, even after the first treatment and improve over subsequent months. The regeneration process that it triggers may fade over time, when it may be advisable to repeat the treatment.
Patients may experience a slight pressure against the vaginal wall and increased sensitivity near the vaginal opening.
Most women report slight localized discomfort following the laser treatment and during the first few days after the session. Usually, they are able to resume their normal routine after 1-3 days.
Intercourse should be avoided in the first 3-4 days after the treatment.
Laser vaginal treatment can be combined with labiaplasty. Labiaplasty changes the size or shape of the labia, typically making them smaller or correcting an asymmetry between them.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.