A sweeping change is taking place in the medical world, one that has the potential to improve the lives of millions of women.
Childbirth and menopause can cause many changes in a woman’s body, including mild incontinence, mild bowel leakage, painful intercourse, dryness, and decreased sensation during intercourse.
These conditions can interfere with many aspects of life, including relationships. Treating these conditions with surgery is difficult as there is no guarantee the results will be permanent.
In the field of gynecology, specifically the sub-specialty of female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, new technology using simple energy waves has revolutionized the way doctors can help. Now women do not have to endure the unwelcome changes that occur as they age. The best part is no surgery.
This life-altering technology relies on radio waves and light waves, which have been used safely for many years in other medical specialties. Dermatologists use radio-frequency energy and concentrated light beams (lasers) every day on their patients.
These two FDA-approved treatments are now being used for gynecological repairs.
The need is more widespread than most people realize. About a third of all women have prolapsed— that’s when the vaginal walls are weakened, allowing the uterus or bladder to bulge into the vagina. About half of all women over age 60 have some form of leakage. And sexual dysfunction caused by pregnancy or aging is something I see every day.
As a surgeon who performs numerous pelvic floor reconstructions, I can tell you that no treatment has, up till now, even approached what RF and laser procedures can do for incontinence, looseness and painful intercourse.
My office tracks patients before and after treatment, and the results are beyond expectations.
The treatment consists of a small wand inserted internally that sends out energy waves controlled by the doctor and a computer. The waves improve blood flow, allowing tissue to form new collagen.
The increased blood flow and collagen production tightens and rejuvenates the internal vaginal skin. This allows the reinforcement of the adjacent bladder walls, so mild incontinence can be helped at the same time.
This is a small-scale treatment compared to surgery. It’s fast and virtually painless. The patient does not need any recovery time, and the procedure is done in-office.
Gynecologists often tell women they need to wait for their condition to worsen before surgery is an option. Now women don’t have to wait. RF or laser treatments can provide help immediately, and all signs indicate results could last from six to 24 months.
For mild prolapse and leakage, I recommend starting with this approach. Sometimes, however, if a case is severe, surgery may be the most sensible way to proceed.
A typical case consists of three treatments, one month apart. Though this is less expensive than surgery, insurance companies do not cover it, but that may change.
I have been performing pelvic floor reconstructive surgery for more than 20 years, and I have no hesitation about embracing this innovative medical technique, even though it may make what I do as a surgeon obsolete.
Dr. Sherry Thomas is a surgeon and board-certified urogynecologist specializing in women’s healthcare. Her website is drsherrythomas.com.