Common Questions About MonaLisa Touch
Even with the passage of time, many women still retain their youthful energy and enthusiasm, but post-menopausal changes can affect a woman's quality of life in unexpected ways. Hormone replacement therapy may not be the best option for a lot of patients, as treatment outcomes can be uncertain. Now there is an alternative therapy for vaginal revitalization that can help millions of women who are silently suffering and unable to undergo other treatment options: the MonaLisa Touch.
WHAT IS VAGINAL AND VULVAR ATROPHY?
Atrophy is a condition in which the walls of the vagina and vulva become thinner and dryer due to a decrease in estrogen. It affects around 40 percent of women, particularly after menopause, and can cause painful intercourse, vaginal dryness, burning and decreased urinary tract health resulting in pain with urinary frequency and even recurrent urinary tract infection.
WHAT TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE FOR VAGINAL ATROPHY?
Until recently, traditional therapies for vaginal atrophy included administration of hormones such as estrogen, an oral medication called Osphenia as well as a variety of vaginal moisturizers and or lubricants. Fortunately, there is a new nonhormonal treatment, called the MonaLisa Touch that has been shown to be very successful in treating this problem. Unfortunately, many women, such as breast cancer survivors, cannot take hormones or have previously tried hormone therapy with minimal to no success.
WHAT IS THE MONALISA TOUCH?
MonaLisa Touch is a mini-invasive treatment utilized to improve the health and pliability of the vaginal mucosa or interlining of the vagina. A specially designed CO2 fractional laser is used in an office setting to treat an atrophic or thin sensitive vaginal wall. The laser has unique characteristics of penetrating light or laser energy deep into the layers of the vaginal wall in such a way that it stimulates collagen and returns the vaginal tissue to a state that was present prior to the changes induced by menopause or other conditions.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
MonaLisa Touch implements CO2 laser energy that is delivered via side-firing probe inserted into the vaginal canal. A two-part pulse targets surface (epithelial) tissue and deep (lamina propria) tissue to promote vaginal mucosal revitalization.
WHAT CLINICAL TRIALS HAVE BEEN CONDUCTED ON THE MONALISA TOUCH?
Studies from Europe note that there is a significant improvement in the symptoms which can occur as early as a few weeks after the first treatment. A recent study performed at The Christ Hospital in conjunction with Stanford University (which is the only U.S. trial to date) confirms these results.
This multisite study was conducted by Dr. Mickey Karram, Founder and Director of the California Institute and Dr. Eric Sokol, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Stanford University Medical Center. Preliminary findings from a trial evaluating the laser treatment on postmenopausal women* and breast cancer survivors experiencing vaginal health issues show positive results. The trial assessed the use of CO2 fractional laser therapy on 30 women with vaginal health issues due to natural or induced menopause. All of the patients in the trial were treated with The MonaLisa Touch laser.
WHERE CAN i HAVE THIS DONE?
The MonaLisa Touch is an in-office procedure performed by an obstetrician/gynecologist. Please contact us for more information and to schedule an appointment.
IS THE TREATMENT PAINFUL?
No anesthesia has been necessary for any patient prior to or during treatment. The procedure is done in a simple fashion by placing a small probe in the vagina with minimal to no discomfort. The treatment session lasts approximately five minutes and no post treatment pain medicine is required. Some patients may experience some discomfort the first time the probe is inserted, but the actual treatment is not painful. Many patients report that it feels like a gentle vibration.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
The treatment cycle that is recommended is three treatments six weeks apart, which each take less than five minutes to perform. This usually allows a significant or complete relief of symptoms for approximately one year after which another treatment session is usually required.
WHEN WILL I SEE RESULTS?
Most patients feel improvement after the very first treatment, although the procedure calls for three treatments that are generally spaced over a 12-week period.
— Jennifer R.
HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?
Patients should expect to come back annually for a maintenance treatment. MonaLisa Touch was first available outside the US where more than 5,000 patients have been treated worldwide with up to an 18-month follow-up.
WHAT ARE MY LIMITATIONS AFTER THE PROCEDURE IS DONE?
Patients should refrain from sexual activity for 2-3 days. Your doctor will determine a post-procedure regimen that is right for you. As mentioned, most women have minimal to no pain with the therapy; however a few women may note some slight localized discomfort but usually full activity is resumed within 24 to 48 hours.
ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS OR COMPLICATIONS?
Even though this therapy is relatively new to the United States, patients in Europe have experienced no long-term side effects. Also to date, no patients treated at The Christ Hospital have reported any serious side effects or adverse events.
FOR WHICH PATIENTS IS THIS TREATMENT APPROPRIATE?
The MonaLisa Touch is appropriate for any female who has gone through menopause, as well as those who are experiencing post-menopausal symptoms as a result of a hysterectomy or breast cancer treatments.
HOW MUCH DOES THE PROCEDURE COST AND WHY IS IT NOT COVERED BY INSURANCE?
Because this procedure is relatively new to the United States, it currently is not covered by managed care and therefore, it is considered an out-of-pocket expense. Please contact us directly for information on pricing.
HOW CAN i FIND OUT IF A PHYSICIAN IN MY AREA IS OFFERING THE MONALISA TOUCH TREATMENT?
Patients interested in MonaLisa Touch treatment should contact a physician listed on our website.
IS THIS PROCEDURE SAFE FOR WOMEN WITH BREAST CANCER?
Yes, MonaLisa Touch treatment is particularly well suited for patients who cannot, or prefer not to receive estrogen therapy.
Women in the study either experienced natural menopause or induced menopause as the result of hysterectomy or drug-induced suppression of ovarian function (chemotherapy, radiations, anticancer drugs such as Tamoxifen)