Vaginal Lasers: Hoodwink or Holy Grail?
MonaLisa Touch (MLT), one of the newer vaginal laser surgeries for women with gynecological health concerns, boasts impressive figures for clinical safety and effectiveness: 90% of patients show clinically significant results and over 35 publications support its safety and effectiveness.
According to its website, MLT is “a simple laser procedure for female patients [delivering] fractional CO2 laser energy to ablate and coagulate soft tissues.”
MLT is not readily available to everyone. It is a cash procedure and insurance providers do not cover it, so companies are manufacturing cheap knock-offs of the MLT method, promising their lasers will “rejuvenate” your vagina and sex life (or anything else that will help them get their units sold and marketed). Many doctors, looking for alternative revenue streams to compensate for decreasing reimbursements for clinical visits, are opting to purchase these vaginal lasers or radio frequency devices.
The problem is not all ‘substitute’ lasers work as well as MLT, and these substitutes have not been studied as extensively as MLT; the biggest problem is their use is unregulated. MLT is sold only to gynecologists or urologists who have practical experience working with vaginal tissue. Some of the imitators will sell to anyone. Let’s put it this way: you would not want your gynecologist doing plastic surgery on your eyelids, and you should not want your plastic surgeon helping you with your vaginal issues.
This situation--let’s call it, MLT wannabes--has created an ethical mess, and thankfully the F.D.A has blown their whistle, urging women not to be victims of aggressive false marketing. It is worth noting they mention MLT, warning them not to market their treatment for menopausal symptoms, since they do not have F.D.A. approval or clearance to do so.
What we want our patients and the broader women community seeking information about vaginal laser treatments to understand is this: MLT is not vaginal rejuvenation. MLT is a clinical procedure used to treat vaginal atrophy. All women have the right to vaginal comfort, sexual pleasure, and good urologic and gynecologic health. All women should have the right to educate themselves about the best choices for their health and be able to access the information they need to make these choices.
Women: advocate for yourselves, your friends, your family, and other women. Be informed about your health situation and your options, and be very careful about who (and what) is treating you.
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