This article is based on an interview with Dr. Barbla Hollinger, Switzerland. The famous Gynecologist sat with us and talked about her experience with the FemiLift CO2 laser treatment and how it helped many of her patients who suffered vaginal dryness and other symptoms.
Q: Is the FemiLift a mature technology? Are women already being treated with it?
Yes, it is! earlier this year the treatment has reached an impressive milestone. Over 100,000 women were treated by it worldwide!
This technology helps patients with a variety of problems, such as vaginal dryness, infections, urinary incontinence and bladder infections as well as vaginal laxity after childbirth. I hope more studies take a closer look at the positive impact of laser treatments. It would be a great leap forward in our field.
Q: Is FemiLift suitable for women of all ages, or is there a minimum/maximum age restriction?
Yes, it is suitable for women of all ages. I have treated about 35 women whose age ranged from 18 to 80. These women were cancer survivors, women suffering natural menopause issues and young women with recurring infections or seeking vaginal rejuvenation after giving birth.
Young patients can bare higher energy levels during treatment than older patients. Therefore, it is important to be very careful and adjust the levels accordingly. In either case, the results are great!
For example, an 80-year-old patient suffered from severe urinary incontinence and pain caused by vaginal dryness. I started out the first session with a low energy level. For the second treatment, I increased it up a bit. For the last session, I already used a high level of energy. This process ended with astonishing results and a very happy patient.
Q: How is FemiLift better than other solutions such as hormonal treatments or lubricant gels for vaginal dryness?
Hormone supplement therapy is as effective as laser treatment for vaginal dryness alone. However, keep in mind the hormonal treatment is only effective for as long as you take it. In order to reach substantial and long-lasting regeneration of the vaginal mucosa, the FemiLift laser or an equivalent treatment is inevitable. In Switzerland, hormonal treatment is covered by public health insurance whereas the FemiLift treatment has to be fully paid by the patient. But I know that in many countries this is changing and there are levels of insurance that cover it too.
Nevertheless, subscribing hormones to patients with breast cancer or other hormone-related tumors is strictly forbidden! the risk is too high. They can either use a lubricant gel – which in my experience has hardly any effect at all – or undergo the FemiLift laser treatment. For them, FemiLift can really make a difference!
Q: How is the treatment conducted? How long before any results are achieved?
Normally we see major improvement after the second session. In order to obtain the best possible results, I advise my patients to book 3 sessions at 4-6 week intervals. The collagen in the vaginal tissue requires some time to completely regenerate. One should bear in mind, that we are treating live-tissue which fully recovers only after 3-6 months.
A video of the FemiLift treatment courtesy of Lāzermedicīnas klīnika, Riga.
Q: Is the treatment painful?
The treatment, in general, should not be painful. However, the patients will feel a tingling sensation. It also depends on the energy level applied. I start at a low level and increase the energy step-by-step, which causes only slight discomfort. Sometimes it is best to conduct 4 sessions with a low level of energy instead of 3.
Q: Are there any side effects patients should expect?
So far we haven’t encountered any severe side effects. There are very rare exceptions to that. In one case a patient reported that for 24 hours after the treatment she had little pinkish colored vaginal discharge. I also had one patient who felt slight irritation in her bladder. Therefore, I always recommend postponing sexual intercourse 24 hours after the treatment.
Q: How many treatments are needed? How long does each treatment take?
3-4 sessions are usually enough. In some cases, I recommend 4 sessions, especially to patients with a high degree of tightness. That’s because I have to start with a low energy level. Each session takes about 15 to 30 minutes.
Q: Who administers the treatment?
A doctor or a certified family nurse can perform this treatment. That refers to Switzerland. When it comes to different locations I know regulations differ.
Q: You’ve mentioned cancer survivors. Can FemiLift relieve cancer therapy side effects?
A common side effect of cancer therapy is vaginal dryness, mostly right after chemotherapy or due to a surgically-induced menopause. This happens because the vaginal tissue loses its moisture and flexibility. Vaginal dryness provokes an uneasy feeling when you sit, walk or even while keeping still. It also may cause pain during sexual intercourse. FemiLift improves these symptoms significantly. More importantly, the results of the FemiLift treatment are long-term. The earlier the treatment process begins, the better the results are – you can even use it alongside cancer therapy to gain the best possible results. That is of course if the patient is ready for it.
Let me give you an example. I recently treated a 65 years old patient who had breast cancer many years ago. Since her recovery, she has suffered severe vaginal tightness. The standard instruments used at gynecological check-ups caused her extreme pain. At her first FemiLift treatment I could only use the slim FemiLift probe. It is Only 18 mm in diameter. At the fourth treatment, I could treat her with the standard 28 mm probe and the pain was gone. From now on gynecological check-ups as well as sexual intercourse are no longer painful to her.
Q: Is FemiLift only effective for women who fully recovered from cancer?
Not at all. It is effective regardless of which stage you choose to have it. You can commence treatment alongside cancer therapy. However, for many women who undergo cancer therapy, this is not the top priority. Therefore, I only recommend FemiLift during cancer treatment if the patient reports vaginal dryness or pain. Otherwise, I’d recommend waiting until the cancer treatment has been completed. The ultimate solution for dryness is the FemiLift laser treatment.
Q: Is there any research supporting the claim FemiLift helps cancer survivors?
There are a couple of excellent studies published. Unfortunately, it’s still a relatively understudied topic. Pagano et.al. “Evaluation of the CO2 Laser Therapy on Vulvar-Vaginal Atrophy (VVA) in Oncological Patients: Preliminary Results”, is a study I consider to be one of the most thorough studies on this topic to date. Also, there was one conducted by Paolo Scollo, director of Gynecology at the Cannizzaro Hospital of Catania. This study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Women who participated in this study reported a satisfaction rate of 80%, which is very high.
Dr. Barbla Hollinger is a Swiss Gynaecologist and owns a practice in Oberwil, BL. She has over 2 years of experience with the FemiLift CO2 laser treatment and is very enthusiastic regarding its efficiency treating vaginal dryness, laxity and stress urinary incontinence.
For further information about her practice, visit http://www.medicallaserbeauty.com/ and http://www.barblahollinger.ch/