Laser vaginal rejuvenation (LVR) is a therapy that’s meant to restore function to the vagina that may have declined due to menopause, hormonal changes, age-related symptoms, or other underlying issues. However, it is a controversial therapy, and the FDA itself has recommended against using lasers for vaginal rejuvenation.
This doesn’t mean that you cannot get an LVR treatment or two done, but this does mean that you should talk things over thoroughly with your OB/GYN before committing to any treatment. You should also do your research before deciding to purchase any LVR therapy. In this guide, our goal is to help you get started on this research so that you can make an informed, intelligent choice about LVR treatment.
What Is Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation?
Laser vaginal rejuvenation is a therapy that is designed to restore vaginal function that may have been lost due to a variety of reasons. Age is the most common contributor to the degradation of the vagina and its function since, as women age, their bodies produce less estrogen. This decline in estrogen can result in painful or unpleasant intercourse as well as dryness.
How Does Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Work?
Laser vaginal rejuvenation works by exposing the tissues inside the vagina to the emissions made by a laser. These lasers work by creating micro-abrasions on the lining of the vagina. Essentially, this works by scouring the internal surfaces of the vagina in a specific pattern. This pattern is meant to promote healing, and this healing process is thought to help restore vaginal function that may have been lost.
There are a few different kinds of lasers that can be used for LVR. Some of these include:
- Carbon dioxide-based lasers
- Er: YAG lasers
- Radiofrequency lasers
Generally, all of these lasers work in similar ways, but they often act on different frequencies. CO2-based lasers are the most common. The systematic destruction of tissue by the laser is thought to promote the production of collagen in vaginal tissues, which rehabilitates and rebalances vaginal function.
Is Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Safe?
Whether laser vaginal rejuvenation is safe or not is a hotly-debated topic. While the FDA has denounced the procedure, other sources and trials say that LVR does produce positive results in at least 48% of women across several major categories. These categories include:
- Burning sensation
- Pain during intercourse
Despite the FDA’s stance on the topic, LVR is still frequently prescribed off-label to help restore vaginal function to patients. The FDA maintains that the risks of LVR do not outweigh the benefits and that there is not enough research to show that these treatments can provide benefits without creating scar tissue or otherwise obstructing long-term vaginal health.
Additionally, it should be noted that, as with any laser-based treatment, there is the potential for burning, scarring, and other unpleasant side effects with the use of a laser. An experienced and knowledgeable practitioner should be able to avoid causing these side effects, but it’s crucial to be aware that the potential for them to happen exists before moving forward with LVR.
The FDA does allow that there is evidence out there that may show that LVR treatments can improve vaginal function. However, their stance is that there hasn’t been enough research done to prove that these benefits outweigh their consequences, or that these benefits apply to an accessible percentage of women. As a result, it is up to you and your OB/GYN to decide whether LVR may or may not be worth trying for you.
Benefits of Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation
The purported benefit of LVR is to restore much of the lost function to the vagina. Through abrading the interior surfaces of the vagina and stimulating healing and collagen production, LVA serves to:
- Alleviate symptoms of vaginal atrophy
- Assist in the self-lubrication of the vagina during intercourse
- Improve the desire and arousal felt during intercourse
- Enhance the feeling of orgasm during intercourse
- Lessen pain felt during or after intercourse
However, it should be noted that LVR therapy is designed to improve the function of the vagina, not fix it entirely. This therapy currently does not have the power to restore vaginal tissue to a younger state; instead, it serves to “rejuvenate.” As such, it’s essential to go into this treatment with the right expectations.
What to Expect During Each Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Treatment
During laser vaginal rejuvenation, your practitioner will use a laser along the inside walls of your vagina. Most patients receive two to three treatments spaced about a month apart. The results of each treatment are immediate, but most practitioners recommend that you abstain from sexual activity for several days to allow for healing.
During your treatment, you may feel some sensitivity or pressure in or around the vagina. This is normal and should be an expected part of each procedure.
How Many Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Treatments Do I Need?
As we stated above, most patients are recommended to have a few initial treatments to kick off the rejuvenation process. After that, most patients are advised to have at least one yearly maintenance visit, since the effects of the laser are thought to fade over time.
Each treatment can last varying amounts of time for each individual, so it’s important to talk with your OB’GYN or practitioner about how frequently you may need maintenance therapy after the initial procedure.
Recovering from Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Treatment
Typically, reported recovery times for LVR are short. Most patients who experience side effects, like swelling, tenderness, or other discomfort recover within days. Per your doctor’s recommendations, it’s essential to refrain from intercourse immediately following the procedure to make sure that everything heals properly.
If all goes well, like the above, then recovery from LVR is quick and painless. However, if other side effects come into play, such as burning, scarring, or charring from the laser, patients may be in for a rougher recovery process. Lasers are powerful devices that, in the wrong hands, can cause permanent disfigurement. Always make sure you’re putting your body in the hands of an experienced and licensed professional before agreeing to any procedure.
The Cost of Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation
Laser vaginal rejuvenation, while cheaper than outright surgery, is not an inexpensive procedure. Each operation will set you back at least $1,000, and different people will require different amounts of treatment. While one patient may feel satisfied with their results after three treatments (the recommended number), some may require more.
This means that, barring yearly maintenance, a full round of LVR therapy will cost you upwards of $3,000-$4,000. If you need more than three treatments, this number climbs even higher. Additionally, since LVR is technically considered to be a “cosmetic” procedure, it is unlikely to be covered by insurance. Many insurers will also not cover it outright because it is not an FDA-approved use of the laser.
However, if you’re considering alternative means to LVR, you will want to do a thorough price comparison before you decide. Some alternative treatments to LVR may also be expensive. We’ll go over some of these alternative treatments below.
Alternatives to Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation
If laser vaginal rejuvenation doesn’t sound like it’s the treatment for you, don’t lose hope. There are many treatments available for vaginal atrophy on the market, and while they also vary in efficacy and safety, there are enough that something will work for you. Discuss your options with your OB/GYN if you can, as they will likely have a list of options to try that are reliable, safe, and easy to procure.
PRP injections, or platelet-rich plasma injections, are one option for those who are not considering LVR. With a PRP injection, your own blood is drawn from your body, and then the plasma is removed. This plasma is thought to boost cell regeneration and health. It is typically injected into areas around the vagina. This therapy is also thought to improve tissue health, sensitivity, and tone.
Creams and ointments are available to treat almost any medical ailment that exists on this planet. Predictably, creams for vaginal rejuvenation exist, too. These creams are designed to be applied to areas around the vagina. Keep in mind that several different varieties of creams exist, so it’s important to do thorough research.
Some creams are over-the-counter and based on essential oils and moisturization, while stronger, estrogen-laced creams may only be available with a prescription. These prescription creams can also be a part of hormone replacement therapy.
Your OB/GYN may prescribe medications that can help alleviate some of your vaginal atrophy, as well. In fact, hormone replacement therapy is an extremely common non-invasive method of treating menopause symptoms and other symptoms of vaginal atrophy. Typically, hormone replacement therapy is covered by insurance, making it an excellent option, and it’s well-tested, too.
Hormone replacement therapy involves taking medications to replace or supplement the hormones that the female body produces less of as it ages. Your OB/GYN will be able to point you towards a product and dosage that works well for you.