By Dr. Angela Shelton
Menopause brings many changes to a woman’s body, which can lead to life changes that are usually unspoken and untreated. New developments in laser medicine are changing that situation, and giving women relief of irritating symptoms. One of the leaders in addressing these changes, and offering the latest innovations in laser procedures, is Richard Jackson, MD, medical director of Changes Medical Spa & Laser Center in Johnson City, Tennessee.
“Most women have no idea that there are effective, safe, affordable laser treatments for many symptoms that come after menopause”, said Dr. Jackson. “These treatments can eliminate the need for surgery, and some laser procedures, like the IntimaLase®, treat conditions that even surgery cannot resolve.”
IntimaLase® (pronounced like a combination of “Intimate” and “Laser”) is an innovative laser procedure for post-menopausal symptoms such as:
. Dryness and lack of natural lubrication
. Itching and Burning
. Fragile, thinning genital tissue
. Tightening or atrophy of the genital tissues
. Painful or impossible intimate relations
These symptoms can indicate vaginal atrophy, atrophic vaginitis, or vulvar-vaginal atrophy (VVA). Women with these symptoms have a greater chance of chronic vaginal infections and urinary function problems, and report greater relationship stress. These symptoms can also make sexual relations painful or impossible. According to the American Association of Family Physicians, up to 40 percent of postmenopausal women have these symptoms. Research indicates that up to 80% of them never seek treatment or speak with their physician about it.
One of Dr. Jackson’s IntimaLase® patients, Jenny C. of North Carolina, recounted her experience recently. “My symptoms came up over the course of about a year. The itching was unbearable, and the tissues ‘down there’ became so thin and delicate that if I scooted out of a restaurant booth I could feel it tear. Then if I urinated, the pain was terrible. I tried creams, steroids, lubricating lotions, everything my doctor suggested but nothing helped much. My relationship was going downhill, and I felt like I had lost being a woman. I saw a TV segment with Dr. Jackson talking about laser treatment, did some research on it, and decided it was worth a try.”
The IntimaLase® procedure is done at Changes Medical Spa & Laser Center, by Dr. Jackson and one of his nurses. It involves no surgery. After the area is numbed with a topical cream, the procedure takes less than 30 minutes. Two treatments, a few months apart, are recommended for the best, lasting result. The laser treats in several ways:
. Increases collagen and elastin inside the vagina to increase the health and resilience of the tissues
. Increases the thickness of the vaginal tissues, which increases intimate satisfaction for both partners
. Stimulates glands in the area to increase natural lubrication
. Stimulates circulation in the genital area to im-
prove circulation and sensitivity
. Stimulates the collagen in the external vaginal area to improve skin health and reduce itching, burning, and tearing
“Most women hesitate to speak with a healthcare professional about their VVA symptoms, so we try to make it as comfortable as possible.” Dr. Jackson reported that all IntimaLase® consultations at Changes Medical are done by “Dr. Angela” and other female nursing staff may be involved. Those who have had the treatment share their story, and understand the issues facing a woman with these symptoms. “We perform this treatment with the comfort and security of the patient being first and foremost in our minds”, said Dr. Jackson. The patient first meets the nurse who will assist with the treatment, who will be her contact for any questions and follow up. “We do not schedule other patients to be in the practice at the same time as an IntimaLase® procedure. We use linens on the exam table and draping for privacy. We always have the nurse with the patient, and a calm and comforting environment. We explain what we are doing beforehand, as well as at each stage of the treatment. Having staff here who have had the IntimaLase® procedure makes us keenly aware of the needs of the patients.”
Being able to speak with female staff and feeling comfortable with them was what made Jenny C. come to Changes. “I had researched the procedure and all the others on the market, even that the Fotona laser was FDA-cleared and the only one that would treat all my symptoms. So I knew this procedure was what I needed. There were very few doctors who do this procedure. There was one place closer to me than Dr. Jackson’s office, but when I spoke on the phone with both locations, I immediately chose Changes. They were more experienced, and just easier to talk to about it.” “My result was immediate, and it’s been almost 2 years now and it’s still doing fine. This procedure saved my relationship. I’d do it again with no hesitation.”
Changes staff emphasize the difference in the IntimaLase® procedure versus other vaginal tightening procedures. “Intimalase® treats deeply but is non-ablative, meaning it does not burn the tissue like other vaginal procedures. There is no cutting, no tissue burning, no bleeding, no recovery time and zero downtime associated with the procedure. “We have treated several busy professionals on their lunch break.” said Dr. Jackson.
Changes Medical Spa & Laser Center was the 4th location in the USA to offer the IntimaLase® procedure, which has a high rate (over 90%) of success and patient satisfaction. Celebrating their 5th year in operation, Changes Medical has treated patients from 19 states.