DR SHIRIN LAKHANI
Dr Shirin Lakhani, MBBS, MRCGP, DRCOG is a cosmetic doctor with specialist expertise in the increasingly popular area of intimate health for both men and women. As a recognised author in this field, she appears regularly on television and in the press as well as speaking at medical conferences worldwide. She is also founder of Elite Aesthetics and a member of the Aesthetic Medicine editorial board.
Vulvo-vaginal rejuvenation is a rapidly expanding treatment area offering solutions to problems that, just a few years ago, women would have been reluctant to even talk about. Fortunately, thanks to medical and technological advances, as well as the media, taboos are slowly starting to be broken down. We are now thankfully in an age where women are more aware that there are treatments available and that they don’t have to put up with symptoms that can negatively impact their physical, mental and sexual health and wellbeing. This range of safe, non-surgical treatments can resolve conditions such as vaginal prolapse,incontinence and laxity in order for lives to be transformed.
Patients come to me wanting intimate rejuvenation treatments for a huge variety of reasons. The majority are suffering from medical conditions which they have been unable to resolve themselves or through their GP. These include incontinence, which has often occurred after childbirth or menopause; vaginal prolapse, something often experienced by women who have had a vaginal delivery or as a result of ageing; as well as laxity problems, and issues with the labia minora and majora that may be causing discomfort or affecting sexual relations.
There are also a growing number of women who come to me for treatment because they are seeking to improve the appearance of their vulva. This is usually due to asymmetric or protruding labia. I believe this increase is because more people are watching pornography online and viewing airbrushed images, and as a result they are developing unrealistic expectations of what their intimate area should look like.
Fortunately, there are now a huge range of non-surgical treatment options available which don’t carry the risks or downtime of traditional surgery.
FOR LAXITY: BTL ULTRA FEMME 360
This procedure is often suggested for women who are suffering from stress incontinence, those who struggle with the appearance of their vagina and the surrounding area, and also those who desire non-surgical improvement of their intimate health. The Ultra Femme 360 can be used to treat both the internal and external vaginal tissues, depending on each individual patients’ needs and goals.
Using a disposable tip, the doctor will insert the device into the vaginal canal. Custom tips for the Ultra Femme device are also available for increased patient comfort. During the internal treatment, the device will be moved back and forth throughout the length of the vaginal canal. The tip of the device creates radiofrequency waves which penetrate the deep layers of tissue within the vagina. This will gently heat the cells in the area, triggering the production of collagen that leads to the strengthening and tightening of the vaginal muscles and creating a tighter vaginal opening and vaginal canal.
Throughout the treatment, radiofrequency energy is delivered in pulses as the handpiece is moved, plumping and tightening the area, including the labia, to improve its appearance. There is no pain or irritation during the internal or external procedures, only a pleasant warming sensation which some patients compare to a hot stone massage. Treatment time is very short, usually taking around 30 minutes to treat both the internal and external areas.
FOR DISCOLOURATION: INTIMATE PEELS
Targeting skin discoloration on the intimate parts of the body, intimate peels can significantly improve pigmentation, as well as rejuvenate and brighten the skin on the delicate genital and anal regions. Whether the changes to the skin on these areas have occurred due to hormonal factors, ageing or for any other reason, an intimate peel can be the perfect solution.
Suitable for both men and women, this treatment helps to improve hyper-pigmentation around the vaginal and anal areas. Each treatment takes approximately 30 minutes to perform and doesn’t require any post-treatment downtime. The products that are applied are packed with proven active ingredients that will lighten the skin. Usually, a course of four treatments would be recommended, spaced between one and two weeks apart, along with homecare products. All treatments are tailored to the individual and personal experiences and results may vary.
FOR LEAKAGE: BTL EMSELLA
It’s estimated that one in three women in the UK are affected by urinary incontinence. Once upon a time, many women put up with it, too embarrassed to seek help for the embarrassing problem. Nowadays though, there are many options to stop leaking. These range from basic pelvic floor muscle exercises to non-surgical treatments such as the BTL Emsella chair, which promises the equivalent of 11,400 kegel exercises per 30-minute treatment.
FOR ADDED VOLUME: DERMAL FILLER
This treatment is for women looking for an aesthetic improvement, and it takes about 30 minutes. Dermal filler is pumped in the labia to plump it up, giving it a more youthful appearance. The effect of the filler is to volumise the labia majora (the outside lips), thereby concealing the labia minora (the inner lips) in order to give a more proportioned appearance. This can have a significant impact on the patient’s day-to-day life, making simple things like sitting, exercising and wearing tight trousers more comfortable. It can also have a positive effect on women suffering from symptoms of “exposure” of the intimate area by reducing irritation and infection.
“Women are more aware that there are treatments available and that they don’t have to put up with symptoms that can negatively impact their physical, mental and sexual health and wellbeing”
The psychological benefits of a woman feeling happier in herself, and with a partner when naked or in an intimate situation, is priceless and can have a positive knock-on effect in other areas of her life.
FOR DRYNESS: O-SHOT
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP), where platelets are separated from blood and then injected back into the body, is traditionally given to stimulate collagen in the face, but in recent years this treatment has been found to have benefits for genital areas too. It’s been nicknamed the O-shot as it’s said to improve sensitivity and the ability to orgasm. In a small study into PRP and sexual dysfunction in 2014, some six out of 10 women reported improvements in pain during or after sex1 and women anecdotally told researchers for another 2014 study that the treatment had helped vaginal dryness and libido. PRP tricks the body into believing it has been injured so it releases stem cells which regenerate tissue, and we find it can help with everything from the skin condition lichen sclerosus to stress incontinence and sexual dysfunction such as inability to climax.
IMPACT FOR WOMEN
While intimate rejuvenation won’t be for everyone, I have seen countless lives transformed positively as a result of these treatments, from the women with such severe incontinence that they were practically housebound before seeking treatment, to those who lost their confidence and ability to enjoy sexual intercourse as a result of a difficult vaginal birth.
In the past, so called non-surgical “designer vaginas” may have been looked down upon as something which women did for the benefit of a partner. Now however, they have become representative of the ways in which women have the power to claim their bodies and be enabled to enjoy sex.
We’re in an age where we don’t have to put up with symptoms however or insignificant or big they may seem. Women shouldn’t be embarrassed to say they want sexual pleasure.
1. http://www.oshot.info/wp-content/ uploads/2013/08/openaccess.pdf 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC7090261/