Stephanie’s Journey – Q & A (pt 4)

Continued from Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3.

I was ready to hear about the vagina laser.

I leaned in intently. Ready to rattle off every question I could think of. In rapid succession.

Tell me about lasers.

Lasers were invented 60 years and have been a part mainstream dermatology for 20 years. You may have heard of people getting laser treatment for wrinkles or discolored skin. The laser beam destroys the outer layer of skin (epidermis). At the same time, the laser heats the underlying skin (dermis), which stimulates collagen production over time, resulting in better skin tone and texture.

American Academy of Dermatology Association touts everything from removing pre-cancerous skin growths to reducing wrinkles.

Okay, but why the vagina?

After years of seeing every variation of vaginal atrophy in her patients, Dr. Cho wanted a more pro-active approach. Not wait for the pain and corresponding health issues that come with menopause, especially early-onset surgical menopause (UTIs, incontinence, pain, discomfort…)

Dr. Cho has been working with lasers in gynecology for about 5 years and has treated over 100 patients. She has found, just like the skin on the face, the skin in the vagina can experience similarly beneficial results.

Who is this good for?

While the vagina laser has been targeted towards menopausal women in their 50’s and 60’s, Dr. Cho explained her vision. Every breast cancer patient faced with a salpingo-oophorectomy would have this treatment preventatively. There are even benefits for breastfeeding mothers, with lower amounts of estrogen.

Why haven’t I heard of this before?

In our health care system, vagina lasers are still in the pay to play category. Without any insurance coverage, it is understandable why someone facing a mountain of medical bills after a lengthy cancer treatment would put their vaginal health on the back burner. It turns into a cycle of patients not being able to afford it, clinic not investing in the technology, doctors not being trained, and people not talking about it.

Okay, but can’t I just use lubrication? Is the laser really necessary?

Think of moisturizers like chapstick. The laser treatments make it so you don’t need the chapstick.

Moisturizers won’t completely restore the health of the vagina, but the laser treatment actually changes the quality of the skin tissue. By resurfacing the vaginal wall and replacing the damaged tissue with healthy tissue, overall vaginal health is improved.

Okay. Can I see this laser? What is it called?

The diVa laser, Dr. Cho’s laser of choice, is FDA approved. Also, the diVa is different from other lasers becuase of it’s unique patterning. Imagine the laser poking tiny holes (like aerating a lawn) in the vagina. Just enough to stimulate the healing response. The computerized mechanism insures even application.

How often do I need to laser?

The recommendation is three treatments, each 4 weeks apart. Then, from there, there can be maintenance treatments as needed (usually every 2–3 years).

Okay, she had me convinced. Join me next time as I saddle in for my first diVa treatment!