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    Navigating the nether regions

    Nonsurgical vaginal rejuvenation options blossomed in 2017. Websites, such as Zwivel.com, predicted that vaginal rejuvenation would be a top trend in 2017. Marketing flourished for radiofrequency and laser devices. And the statistics by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery showed vaginal rejuvenation was growing at an unprecedented rate, according to a story published August 2017 on The Aesthetic Channel.

    But as much as it looks like it’s been — and is — a slam-dunk, there’s still a lot about nonsurgical vaginal rejuvenation with radiofrequency and lasers that’s more hype than established reality, researchers say.

    Dr. MyckatynTreatments with devices, from ThermiVA (Thermi) and Geneveve (Viveve) to the FemiLift (Alma Lasers), seem to have benefit, are safe and well-tolerated, but there’s little in the way of strong evidence that they work to effectively treat specific symptoms, such as vaginal laxity, lack of lubrication, feeling of looseness or stress urinary incontinence. And quality studies haven’t been done to look at how long the treatments last, or if one treatment is better than another for a specific indication, according to Terry Myckatyn, M.D., professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Mo.

    “In this space, there are still a lot of unknowns. There are a lot of claims by companies. And the available research is what we would call observational…,” says Dr. Myckatyn, author of a literature review and comprehensive update on nonsurgical vulvovaginal rejuvenation with radiofrequency and laser devices, published in September 2017 in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.

    That lack of studies leaves cosmetic physicians and patients in a little bit of limbo, according to Dr. Myckatyn.

    “At the end of the day, you buy these machines, they’re expensive and you want to be able to offer something that is consistent with the values of your practice, which is that you have good outcomes, patients are satisfied and essentially that you’re not duping them into doing something that’s new and sort of taking advantage, only to find out weeks or months later that it really didn’t do anything,” he says.

    NEXT: What Works

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has written about health care, the science and business of medicine, fitness and wellness ...

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