An In-Depth Look at MonaLisa Touch
In a nutshell, this treatment helps restore the vagina to a healthier state. It is ideal for women suffering lax tissues and other symptoms as a result of childbirth, cancer treatment, perimenopause, or menopause.
More specifically, the Touch is a fractional CO2 laser that delivers safe and gentle heat directly to vaginal tissue. Fractional lasers are important to many cosmetic therapies because they treat some parts of the tissue while leaving other parts intact. This reduces the risk of unwanted side effects and also promotes faster healing.
How It Works
Many lasers address skin from an aesthetic perspective, but the Touch is different. It was designed strictly for the vagina and works to address medical rather than aesthetic concerns, including:
- Vaginal atrophy (bleeding, itching, and dryness)
- Pain during intercourse
- Mild vaginal prolapse
- Frequent and chronic urinary tract infections
- Lichen sclerosis (white, patchy skin on the genitals)
- Urinary incontinence
During treatment, the laser is inserted into the vagina. This allows the two-part pulse to deliver targeted heat to surface and deep tissues. In response to what the body recognizes as damaged tissue, collagen and elastin production ramp up to heal and support the tissues. With the stimulation of collagen, vaginal mucosa (or mucous membrane) also returns to stable levels.
The vagina is lined with mucous membranes that provide a natural barrier against disease and infection. It also lubricates the vagina to protect against drying and help prevent painful friction during intercourse.
Throughout a woman’s lifetime, the amount of mucous she produces fluctuates in direct correlation with her estrogen levels. When estrogen levels are high – or stabilized – mucous is regulated to promote a healthy vagina and similarly healthy microbiome (bacterial environment). When estrogen drops, however, mucous production drops off and exposes the vagina to great discomfort – among other concerns.
What Happens After Treatment?
Typically, women feel a noticeable improvement in their vaginal symptoms within 24 hours of receiving MonaLisa Touch. Because different women experience different symptoms, this improvement varies considerably. But among the most common effects are less dryness, itching, and burning. Increased lubrication is another immediate improvement so that women feel more like their former selves.
A typical course of treatment includes three sessions delivered over 18 weeks, each scheduled about six weeks from each other. As more treatments are completed, and collagen and elastin continue to increase, women also experience tighter vaginal tissues. This improves your comfort throughout the day and during intercourse.
A Closer Look
Immediately after treatment, tissue regeneration begins and continues for weeks. At the same time, new blood vessels grow and help the vagina in two specific ways: increased blood flow stimulates lubrication and also delivers crucial nutrients to tissues. That means a renewed thickness in vaginal lining.
The MonaLisa Touch also restores balanced pH levels in the vagina. When pH levels are stabilized, bacteria growth is optimal to reduce the risk of infections.
What to Expect
The treatment itself only lasts between five and 10 minutes. We begin by placing a numbing cream on the vulva and vaginal opening, where more nerves mean more sensitivity.
Similar to inserting a tampon, a small, metal wand is placed inside the vagina and moved in a clockwise motion to provide targeted, 360-degree treatment. It is painless, minimally invasive, and performed in the comfort of our office.
Describing the Feel
Many patients report treatment as feeling like a vibration. There’s no discomfor; just a slight sensation. This occurs as energy pulses are delivered to a calculated depth and width. That energy is used to injure tissue in a very precise and controlled manner. As described earlier, the body then responds with increased blood flow and protein production.
After treatment, you can resume daily activities. You don’t need recovery or downtime to heal, and results can last up to a year. For this reason, we recommend annual maintenance appointments.
Evolving Vaginal Health
So, why is it that vaginal health veers off course? This answer is not as straightforward as we would like. The vagina strongly relies on estrogen for healthy tissues. When those tissues are unhealthy, a patient suffers from vaginal atrophy, which can be caused by:
- Menopause, when estrogen naturally decreases
- Surgery to remove the ovaries
- Treatment for hormone-related cancers
- Hormone-related disorders
Menopause Changes the Vagina
This is a broad statement, but it’s also true. To better understand, let’s take a look at life before menopause. During this time, when estrogen levels are in strong supply, vaginal lining is thick, well-lubricated, and properly folded to allow stretching, like an accordion.
Menopause, however, is marked by a decrease in estrogen. This causes the lining to thin, and as that happens, tissues that were once folded become more lax. The vagina essentially loses its flexibility, which accounts for the pain and discomfort women often feel during menopause.
The Unspoken Toll
The symptoms of burning, itching, and dryness take a hard mental and physical toll on women. Fragile tissues are susceptible to tearing and bleeding, especially during intercourse. A woman’s natural response is to back away from intimacy, which can even lead to relationship concerns.
By avoiding intercourse, however, the condition actually worsens. This forces women to choose between painful sex or ongoing, daily discomfort.
The Impact of Cancer Treatments
Treatment for breast and ovarian cancers often causes estrogen levels to drop. WIth this comes the same symptoms that menopausal women face: dryness, urinary tract infections, and incontinence. Until MonaLisa Touch, the only therapies available were estrogen-based. This precluded cancer patients for medical reasons and forced them to mutely endure their discomfort.
But laser treatment contains no hormones. It is safe for cancer patients and other women who do not want to undergo estrogen-based therapy. Meaning all women now have a viable way to treat vaginal atrophy.
The Truth of Childbirth
After giving birth, women feel at liberty to speak of feeling tired and not having the time they need to complete every chore. What we don’t openly discuss is the vaginal dryness and incontinence that also plague us. This says nothing of the stretched tissues that feel like they’ll never return to normal.
Without interrupting your schedule – keep in mind that MonaLisa Touch takes less than 10 minutes – laser therapy can tighten tissues. Because reduced estrogen levels also thin the lining of the urethra – a short tube that expels urine out of the body – laser can address incontinence as well. Incontinence falls into two categories:
- Stress, identified by urine leaks when you cough, sneeze, or laugh
- Urge, wherein you have a sudden and uncontrollable urge to go
Other Treatments Fall Short
In trying to address vaginal health concerns, many providers make the same basic recommendations. They’ll start with water-based moisturizers intended to restore lubrication to the vagina. While these provide momentary help – some last an hour or so, others last a day or two – they are messy to apply and can readily stain clothes and bedding. Moisturizers also fail to address the underlying problem.
Healthcare professionals then typically recommend lubricants to alleviate the discomfort of sex. When the vagina functions properly, it lubricates itself throughout the day and during sex. Lubricants, however, provide temporary relief. They take away from the spontaneity of intimacy and don’t improve tissue health. Some also cause irritation or promote infections.
Low dose estrogen addresses symptoms at the root-level but is far from perfect. In fact, it’s outright problematic because it stimulates cell growth and exposes endometrial and breast tissues to cancer. Addtionally, as we already said, some patients aren’t candidates for hormonal therapy because of a history of cancer or fear of increasing their chances for developing cancer.
A More Natural Approach
Laser therapy is considered a more natural treatment because it urges the body to heal itself. By this, we mean it ignites internal processes to strengthen vaginal tissues. This is why it’s safe for such a variety of patients.
Treatment Might Be Right for You
Although we can’t know until you come in for a consultation appointment, laser therapy might be right for you if intercourse is painful. This sounds a little vague, but discomfort can include anything from feeling like your tissues don’t properly stretch to a lack of lubrication that causes tearing or bleeding.
Likewise, if you have sex but feel nothing, laser can probably help you. This symptom arises when tissues are dry and overstretched without the ability to recognize sensation. Laser, however, can stimulate tissues to grow thicker and more hydrated. Intimate moments, in turn, become more enjoyable.
We’ve already talked about mucous membranes in the vagina, but we need to circle back to this topic. Keeping your vagina naturally lubricated can improve tissue tone, yes, but it also staves off urinary tract infections (UTI). This topic deserves more attention because untreated UTIs can lead to permanent kidney damage.
Continuing a regimen of ongoing antibiotics can also cause problems. Bacteria can in fact become antibiotic-resistant. When this happens, treatment becomes more difficult. Laser therapy comes with none of these worries, delivers fast results, and works from the inside out.
Vaginal Health and Well-Being
For women, vaginal health is a key aspect of well-being. Women associate their femininity with this most intimate of parts. Those in menopause or dealing with the aftermath of cancer treatment especially tend to suffer a lack of confidence; without proper vaginal functioning, they feel something is inherently wrong.
A study from Indiana University confirms that body image now extends beyond traditional appearance and includes the vagina. Women who feel negatively about their vaginas are less likely to visit their gynecologists and certainly less likely to enjoy intercourse.
A Boost in Self Confidence
The effects of laser therapy include a boost in confidence so women feel more comfortable with their bodies. This is important for quality of life. When you feel good, you have a more positive outlook and maintain better overall health.
Reclaim Your Body
The symptoms of vaginal atrophy aren’t something you simply have to live with. Just the opposite, we believe you can enjoy life just as much as ever – thanks to MonaLisa Touch. Call the compassionate team at Aurora Innovative Healthcare Center for Women in San Antonio, TX, today and schedule your consultation appointment.