The New Face of Intimate Wellness – Regenerative Intimate Treatments as discussed in A2 Magazine Issue 26

Written by: Dr Nerina Wilkinson – MBChB (Stell), FCS Plast (SA)

Today, we live in a world where women are taking control.

Discussing recent experiences of non-surgical treatments like Botulinum Toxin and facial  fillers are now part of most book club evenings. Meanwhile, the intimate wellness revolution has also started, with a broad array of women seeming to be curiously interested in this subject. Historically, the topic of vaginal health and related conditions arising from childbirth, ageing and menopause have been difficult for women to discuss, and often been considered “just a part of life”.

Why did I decide to explore the intimate wellness market?

In my plastic surgery practice, I strive to use cutting-edge technology to enhance my patients’ natural beauty, where I have been performing various cosmetic procedures such as labiaplasty surgery and facial rejuvenation for over 20 years – with the goal to empower them to feel more beautiful.

This has seen most of my patients ‘maturing’ with me over the years, all experiencing the same ‘intimate’ changes together. I feel privileged to be able to extend the success of these treatments to promote vaginal wellness, which ultimately delivers a renewed sense of confidence, quality of life and enhanced sexual functioning to my patients.  One such patient who has benefited from a vaginal rejuvenation procedure is Carmen. She tried the Regenerative Intimate Treatment (RIT) – a procedure that is a combination of a laser treatment and the injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) – and felt that it truly transformed her life.

Why did our patient Carmen decide on vaginal rejuvenation treatments?

Carmen explains, “At the age of 42, I was diagnosed with early-onset menopause. My estrogen levels decreased dramatically and I found myself suffering from vaginal thinning, dryness and irritation. Due to the discomfort I was experiencing during intercourse, my libido decreased. My husband and I have always had an extremely loving relationship, so I was not prepared to allow this condition to affect my marriage. I was advised that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) would improve these signs and symptoms. I used HRT for three years; however, I started to feel and see the signs of increased testosterone: thick facial hair, my body felt less feminine, and I was more aggressive than before.

“I, therefore, decided to stop HRT. As soon as I did, the vaginal menopausal symptoms returned. Dr Wilkinson suggested a natural treatment.”

What did Carmen’s treatments involve?

Carmen received RIT – a painless, non-surgical vaginal procedure.

A gentle laser energy is delivered to the vaginal wall and stimulates a healing response, resulting in the remodeling of the tissue fibers; thereby restoring flexibility, shape and moisture. It requires no anesthesia and typically takes around 15 minutes to treat. Most patients feel and see improvement after the very first treatment; however, a series of three treatments, about four weeks apart, is recommended for optimal results.

Meanwhile, the PRP is derived from a process where the patient’s blood is drawn and centrifuged to isolate the powerful regenerative cells that, when injected into the area, improve sensation and vaginal mucosal thickness.

What has been Carmen’s experience after the treatments?

Carmen states, “The treatments have given me back the confidence that early menopause nearly took away from me. I found that the dryness, itching and discomfort completely disappeared. My libido and sensation have returned to normal, which has improved my intimate relationship with my husband. To me, this has been my most positive experience. My hard facial and body features that resulted from the testosterone have now softened, and I feel feminine and beautiful again.

“Moreover, I noticed an improvement in my ability to retain urine after the first treatment (as I sometimes had trouble with leaking urine due to childbirth), and it has now improved even more after the second treatment.”

What are the current world statistics of intimate wellness in woman?

A survey of menopausal women showed that 75% suffered from vaginal dryness, and 90% said it negatively affects their lives. In the same survey, 63% of post-childbirth women felt their vagina was looser since giving birth. Of these women, 62% felt this negatively affected their sex life.

What am I experiencing in my practice?

This laser treatment delivers favorable results, with mild to no discomfort and little downtime. At the three-month follow-up after the third treatment, 100% of women tend to report satisfaction with the treatment, with 94% saying they would recommend it to others. Additionally, in a worldwide study, 82% of the women showed a statistically significant improvement in vaginal health. Intimate PRP injections (also known as “The O Shot”) that are combined with the laser therapy naturally regenerate the intimate areas, resulting in a 20% to 60% increase in sensation and libido.

So far, I have seen a mix of patients – including post-childbirth women wanting to treat vaginal changes affecting intimacy as well as stress incontinence. I also see several peri-and postmenopausal women who are requesting treatments to improve the thinning and drying of the mucosa. Another group of patients that we don’t always talk about is breast cancer patients who suffer from vaginal atrophy after chemotherapy, perhaps exacerbated by menopause. This treatment does wonders for them too, as it does for postmenopausal women.

Take –home message

Women today are able to make more choices, so their intimate wellness and health is  – and should be- as important as facial rejuvenation has been over the past decade.

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