FEATURE – Let me preface this by saying that I have no dog in this fight. I do not oppose vaginal rejuvenation treatments, nor do I encourage them. But as a board certified obstetrician-gynecologist, I am qualified to give you what I hope is an unbiased expert opinion in case you’re interested.
Here are the top things you should know about vaginal rejuvenation treatments:
1. What is it, exactly?
It is basically a noninvasive therapy using laser or radio frequency energy directed at the sub-vaginal tissues that is intended to stimulate more blood flow and to improve connective tissue, leading to vaginal tightening, improved lubrication and, in some cases, improvement of urinary incontinence.
2. Is it safe?
There is not a lot of long-term data on it, but it is the same technology that dermatologists have used on the skin for decades. It’s likely to be very safe.
3. Is it effective?
This is hard to answer because it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. I would liken it to getting laser on your face versus getting a face-lift. It’s actually a very good comparison. It really depends on your expectations and what your starting situation is.
4. Is it covered by insurance?
Almost never. It typically costs between $2,000-$4,000, depending on how many treatments you need.
5. Is it painful?
No. It takes about 30 minutes and really should be painless.
6. There are lots of different systems from different companies. Which is best?
I can’t answer that because there is simply no data comparing any of them to each other. It’s really hard to get unbiased answers on these procedures because first, there aren’t any, and second, if someone has an economic stake in this, you are simply not going to get an unbiased answer from them most of the time. I will say I have no information that any one is vastly superior or inferior to any of the others.
7. Who does this procedure?
Dermatologists, plastic surgeons and OBGYNs. Who should do them? I firmly believe that only an OBGYN should be offering these because only an OBGYN has the experience to be able to counsel a woman about all of her options and to be able to offer all of those options. It has nothing to do with the technical ability to do the procedure; it has everything to do with having all of the tools to help a woman choose what is right for her.
8. How many treatments does it take?
Most women are satisfied after two or three treatments. That being said, there is not much long term-data to know how long the effects last.
9. Who is the ideal candidate for this procedure?
The ideal candidate is actually a postmenopausal woman who is not a good candidate for vaginal estrogen, has occasional leaking from her bladder with coughing and sneezing or has some but not significant vaginal laxity. All of these criteria are not necessary. There is no objective data that quantifies how much “tightening” goes on, but subjectively, most women have been satisfied.
10. Why don’t you offer this procedure?
I have colleagues that jump on any new technology that comes out. I have always been more cautious. I need to see more solid long-term data on things and see some unanimity among the experts in my field first. It has served me well through my career.
But I am reminded of all of the devices that came out when the popularity of endometrial ablation started. I held off for a bit until it became clear what the best methods are and the procedure would be truly beneficial for my patients. So I am holding off on this issue until I see more data. I’m not criticizing those who do it. It is just how I do things.