New innovative treatments for age related vaginal changes including dryness and pain during intimacy are becoming increasingly popular. With so many options available the question is “what is the difference?”
Specifically, what is the difference between ThermiVA and the MonaLisa Touch™?
ThermiVA and MonaLisa Touch are the more common treatments used to treat atrophic vaginitis, vaginal dryness and pain during sex. Both are non-surgical procedures available as an in-office treatment designed and approved to treat a very specific condition typically caused by menopause, aging, child birth and breast cancer survival. These conditions include:
Pain during intimacy
However, ThermiVA and the MonaLisa Touch are different. Each are promoted to achieve similar results for resolving the symptoms of menopause, vaginal dryness and painful intercourse.
The biggest difference between them is the type of energy used to increase blood flow and promote collagen growth. ThermiVA is a radio frequency device that uses heat to achieve desired outcomes; whereas, the MonaLisa Touch uses laser energy to administer heat to penetrate vaginal tissue.
The MonaLisa Touch CO2 laser is a fractional ablation device that uses DOT Therapy to apply laser energy to the vaginal walls in a non-continuous mode. With the fractionated laser only, a small percentage of tissue is effected resulting in stimulation, regrowth and thickening while avoiding pain and side effects both during and after the treatment. The dual-action of the MonaLisa Touch, both heat and fractional ablation, promotes blood flow and collagen growth.
In contrast, the ThermiVA ONLY uses heat.
ThermiVA = Radio Frequency = heat
MonaLisa Touch = Laser = heat + fractional ablation
Is treatment using the MonaLisa Touch or ThermiVA painful?
ThermiVA has been described as having less downtime and less pain than MonaLisa Touch by the professionals that offer this treatment.
ThermiVA’s claims that it is less painful are unsupported.
The MonaLisa Touch is performed in a physician’s office, requires no anesthesia or down time, with treatments lasting less than 5 minutes and is reported as being mildly uncomfortable. Patients are able to return to normal activity immediately following treatment. For optimal results patients are advised to refrain from intercourse for the first 24 hours.
How much does the MonaLisa Touch and ThermiVA cost?
According to reviews on REALSelf, the cost of ThermiVA ranges from $2,500 – $3,500 for 3 treatments while the average cost reported for the MonaLisa Touch ranges from $1,800 – $3,000 for 3 treatments.
How long do results last using the MonaLisa Touch laser vs. ThermiVA?
ThermiVA reports that maintenance treatments are needed between 8 – 12 months versus the MonaLisa Touch’s 12 months. The dual-action of the fractional CO2 laser, heat and fractional ablation, should have a longer lasting effect. Neither are permanent as our bodies continuously age and skin cells including the vagina are damaged.
Does the MonaLisa Touch or ThermiVA improve or resolve stress incontinence?
Patients from both ThermiVA and MonaLisa Touch have reported improvement or resolution to stress incontinence and urinary problems, but there are no specific studies.
What scientific proof or peer reviewed studies have been published for the MonaLisa Touch and ThermiVA?
ThermiVA’s proof of performance has been visually confirmed vs. scientifically proven. Some professionals claim that before and after photos can prove their results. As of writing this article no peer reviewed studies were found for ThermiVA. The MonaLisa Touch has at least 16 peer reviewed studies some of which are cited below.
In comparing the two types of treatment, radio frequency versus CO2 fractional laser, I would suggest considering them on a continuum. Radio frequency is just not as intense, or strong as compared to fractional laser and so you can probably expect less of an effect and less durability. And that’s exactly what we see in clinical practice.
As for which treatment is best for you, choose an experienced professional that is knowledgeable and already treats women for feminine conditions such as a urogynecologist, urologist, or obgyn. Choose the treatment that is backed by science and has proven results.
IS LHR FOR ME?
LASER HAIR REMOVAL - TREATMENT PURPOSE
Laser Hair Reduction reduces hair growth using high energy light concentrated into the hair follicle. In a few treatments, typically six, you can dramatically decrease wasted time shaving and waxing. Laser hair removal is done in a series of treatments that are scheduled four to eight weeks apart depending on the area on the body being treated.
Maintaining adherence to your schedule is critical for maximizing your laser hair reduction results. Common treatment areas include bikini, Brazilian bikini, legs, underarms, back, arms and face.
It is important to know that laser hair reduction does not permanently remove hair, periodic touch up treatments may necessary. On occasion there are people who do not respond to Laser Hair Reduction treatments.
LASER HAIR REMOVAL - CONSENT FOR TREATMENT
Informed consent documents are used to communicate information about the proposed cosmetic treatment along with disclosure of risks and alternative forms of treatment(s). Despite Laser Hair Reduction’s high level of efficacy and safety, it is not free of side effects or risks.
As a client you have the right to be informed about your treatment so that you may make the decision whether to proceed with the Laser Hair Reduction treatment or decline after knowing the risks involved.
This disclosure is to inform you about the risks, side effects and possible complications related to Laser Hair Reduction prior to your treatment. This disclosure should not be considered all-inclusive in defining other methods of care and risks encountered.
We may provide you with additional or different information which is based on all the facts in your particular case and the state of medical knowledge.
LASER HAIR REMOVAL - RISKS AND TREATMENT EXPERIENCE
There are both risks, and potential complications associated with Laser Hair Reduction. Although the majority of patients do not experience these complications, you should understand the risks and potential complications.
This list is not meant to be inclusive of all possible risks associated with Laser Hair Reduction as there are both known and unknown side effects associated with any medication or procedure.
This is a cosmetic treatment that could potentially conflict with other medically necessary medications used to treat disease. Full disclosure of medical conditions (past and current) is necessary to determine if this treatment is appropriate for you.
Complete information on your medical history minimizes your risks from this treatment. If you under a physician's care for a serious medical condition we may require the permission of your health care provider for cosmetic treatments.
Burned skin - The light energy from a Laser Hair Reduction treatment can burn your skin, in some cases severely.
It is important to tell your provider about recent sun exposure and to report any use of light sensitizing drugs (such as Accutane) with an accurate medical history form.
Dark skin has a greater probability of burning than lighter skin. Self-tanning lotions dramatically increase the risk of burns.
Scarring - The Laser Hair Reduction system can burn or blister the skin which creates a risk of scarring.
Poor results - Hair reduction is most effective on dark hair with color and does not treat white, grey, blonde, or red hair.
Genetics, hormones, and hair color may interfere with hair reduction and some people may not respond at all. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common cause of poor results. If you have been diagnosed with PCOS or suspect you may have PCOS please discuss this with your L Marcel Body & Wellness provider.
Post treatment redness and discomfort. There are short term effects of laser hair reduction. These may include reddening, mild burning, temporary bruising or blistering during the first few days after each treatment.
Hyper-pigmentation (browning) and Hypo-pigmentation (whitening)- Both have been noted after treatment, especially with a darker complexion. This usually resolves within weeks but can take as long as 3-6 months.
Permanent color change is a rare potential risk. If you have dark skin a skin lightening cream may be advised to reduce the melanin in your skin before the treatment. Avoiding sun exposure after the treatment reduces the risk of color change.
Viral Outbreaks- Herpes simplex virus outbreaks can be triggered around the mouth and vulva by an IPL treatment. This applies to both individuals with a past history of herpes simplex virus outbreaks and to those without previous outbreaks.
If you have a history of herpes simplex virus in the treated area, we recommend preventative therapy with an oral anti-viral medication.
Photosensitizing medication complications- Some over the counter and prescription medications can increase the risk of burning. We are unable to treat clients that are on ACCUTANE, and PHOTOSENSITIZING medications.
Infection- Although infection following pulsed light treatment is unusual, bacterial, fungal, and viral infections can occur with scabbing or other disruption of the skin barrier function. Should any type of skin infection occur, additional treatment including antibiotics might be necessary.
Bleeding- Pinpoint bleeding is rare but can occur following brown spot and spider vein treatment procedures. Should bleeding occur, additional treatment might be necessary.
Skin tissue pathology- Energy directed the skin may potentially vaporize diseased lesions making laboratory examination of a tissue specimen impossible. If you have discolored skin that is potentially cancerous you should have it examined by a dermatologist or other medical provider before your IPL treatment.
Allergic reactions- In rare cases, local allergies to tape, preservatives used in cosmetics or topical preparations, have been reported. Systemic reactions (which are more serious) may result from prescription medicines. Your skin may be numbed using an analgesic agent(s). Analgesics typically include but are not limited to benzocaine, lidocaine, tetracaine and epinephrine. There is the possibility of complications, injury, and even death from all forms of analgesics. Allergic reactions may require additional treatment.
Numbing agent reactions- Your skin may be numbed using an analgesic agent(s) as part of your procedure. Analgesics typically include but are not limited to benzocaine, lidocaine and tetracaine (BLT). BLT is a central nervous system depressant and has risks including, but not limited to: numbness, tingling, vertigo, restlessness, seizures, tremors, convulsions, tachycardia, and even death.
Breastfeeding- Women who are currently breastfeeding cannot use any analgesic agents (typically used for numbing the area prior to treatment). Analgesics and topical numbing creams have not been studied on breastfeeding women. There is a risk that those agents can be found in breastmilk.
Eye Damage- Eye damage can occur from the IPL energy. Protective eyewear must be worn during the treatment.
LASER HAIR REMOVAL - PRE-TREATMENT INSTRUCTIONS
It is prudent to follow some simple guidelines before your treatment. These guidelines can reduce possible side effects associated with the procedure and make all the difference between a fair result and a great result.
Preparing the treatment area- For maximum results please prepare for your appointment with the treatment area shaved with 1-2 days of stubble. It is important to stop waxing or plucking hairs at least three weeks prior to your Laser Hair Removal Treatment.
Sun Exposure- Please reschedule your appointment if your skin has been exposed to the sun and is “tanning”. The risk of burns and pigmentation changes increases dramatically when skin is creating pigmentation in response to sun exposure.
Self-Tanner- Stop the application of self-tanner for four weeks prior to treatment.
Tanning Beds- Stop the use of tanning beds three weeks prior to treatment
Prescription Medications – Review prescription medications with your provider for potential sun sensitizing effects.
Anti-viral medication- Begin preventative anti-viral medication as directed. This will decrease the risk of a post treatment herpetic outbreak.
Stop photosensitive medications prior to your treatment. We are unable to treat clients that are on antibiotics, ACCUTANE, and PHOTOSENSITIZING medications.
A list of common photosensitizing medications can be found here https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/drug-induced-photosensitivity/
LASER HAIR REMOVAL - TREATMENT DAY INSTRUCTIONS
Shave- Shave the area you are having treated the day before your appointment (do not wax or pluck).
LASER HAIR REMOVAL - POST TREATMENT INSTRUCTIONS
Cold Compresses and topical creams- Immediately after the treatments, there may be redness and bumps at the treatment area, which may last up to 2 hours or longer. It is normal for the treated area to feel like sunburn for a few hours. You may apply a cold compress if needed. If you experience scabbing or crusting of the skin apply antibiotic cream to decrease the risk of infection. Aloe vera can also provide relief.
Makeup- Makeup may be used after the treatment, unless there is blistering or scabbing. It is recommended to use new makeup to reduce the possibility of infection. Start with a moisturizer on the skin before applying makeup. Avoid moisturizers with alpha-hydroxy acids.
Sun Exposure- Avoid sun exposure to reduce the chance of dark or light spots for 2 months. Use sunscreen SPF 25 or higher at all times throughout the treatment and for 1-2 months following.
Skin Care- Avoid picking or scratching the treated skin. DO NOT USE any other hair removal methods or products on the treated area during the course of your laser treatments, as it will prevent you from achieving your best results.
Do not exfoliate or use harsh soaps on the treated area for 48 hours after treatment. You may apply deodorant after 24 hours.
Showering- You may shower after the laser treatments and use a mild soap. Skin should be patted dry and NOT rubbed.
Hair growth- Your hair growth may appear to increase immediately after your treatment as the damaged hair shafts shed from the follicle. This is normal and not a reason for concern.
LASER HAIR REMOVAL - ALTERNATIVE TREATMENT OPTIONS
Alternative options to Laser Hair Removal are waxing, plucking, shaving and electrolysis. Risks and potential complications are associated with alternative forms of treatment that involve skin treatments or cosmetic procedures.
LASER HAIR REMOVAL - SYNERGISTIC TREATMENTS
Areas of the body not being treated with Laser Hair Reduction can continued to be treated with other hair removal methods, such as waxing.
Other cosmetic body treatments include CoolTone muscle toning, CoolSculpting fat removal, Kybella fat removal, Intima feminine rejuvenation and O-Shot.
LASER HAIR REMOVAL - ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I have read and understand the Pre and Post Treatment Instructions. I agree to follow these instructions carefully. I understand that compliance with recommended pre and post procedure guidelines are crucial for healing, prevention of scarring, and other side effects and complications such as hyper pigmentation, hypo pigmentation, and other skin textural changes. Particularly the possible adverse effects of light sensitizing drugs, such as Accutane and those of anticoagulants.
I completed an accurate medical history document. If there are any issues that are not covered by the medical history form which I think are relevant to my treatment, I will inform L Marcel Body & Wellness prior to my treatment. I will also notify L Marcel Body & Wellness of any changes in my health or medical care as they occur during my treatment program.
I understand that this treatment is not meant to replace the necessity for a complete dermatological examination of suspicious lesions.
I confirm that I am not pregnant and have not taken Accutane within the last 6 months. I do not have a pacemaker or internal defibrillator. I also have completed an accurate medical history document and been informed about what I must do and "not do" before, during and after the series of treatments.
Photographs: I give permission for my photographs to be used to help document my treatment course.
Complete confidentiality will be maintained.
No guarantee, warranty, or assurance has been made to me as to the results that may be obtained. I am aware that follow-up treatments may be necessary for desired results. Most patients require a number of treatments over several months with gradual results occurring over this time. Clinical results will vary per patient. Laser or other treatments may not completely improve or prevent future skin disorders, lesions, or wrinkles. Additional cosmetic procedures may be necessary to further tighten loose skin. I agree to adhere to all safety precautions and regulations during the treatment. Some people are unable to complete the treatment due to discomfort. No refunds will be given for treatments received.
I recognize that during the course of the treatment, medical treatment or anesthesia, unforeseen conditions may necessitate different procedures than those above. I therefore authorize L Marcel Body & Wellness providers to perform such other procedures that are in the exercise of his or her professional judgment necessary and desirable. The authority granted under this paragraph shall include all conditions that require treatment and are not known to the provider at the time the procedure is begun.
I understand and agree that all services rendered to me are charged directly to me and that I am personally responsible for payment.
The nature and purpose of the treatment have been explained to me. I have read and understand this agreement. All of my questions have been answered to my satisfaction and I consent to the terms of this agreement.
Alternative methods of treatment and their risks and benefits have been explained to me and I understand that I have the right to refuse treatment.
If I experience any major or life-threatening symptoms, I will call 911 immediately.
For non-emergency questions I will call Spa L Marcel Body & Wellness at 713-497-5390 or 214-613-6531 (for after-hours concerns call 832-819-6430).
I release L Marcel Body & Wellness, medical staff, and specific technicians from liability associated with this procedure.
I certify that I am a competent adult of at least 18 years of age.
This Consent Form is freely and voluntarily executed and shall be binding upon my spouse, relatives, legal representatives, heirs, administrators, successors, and assigns.