It's easy to be skeptical of a procedure designed to tighten things up "down there," especially when it's been touted by celebrities like Kim Kardashian. But MD+DI recently got the low down from an obstetrics and gynecologist specialist in Lubbock, TX on a new vaginal rejuvenation device that her patients can't stop talking about.
"They've said things like, 'it's been life-changing', 'this saved my marriage', 'I'm just so happy to finally feel better'," said Jennifer Owen, MD.
Unlike most of the devices marketed toward vaginal rejuvenation, the Votiva device from InMode is designed to deliver bipolar radiofrequency energy instead of monopolar radiofrequency energy. Owen said that distinction in design results in shorter treatment times.
"In my opinion, this device is a lot safer because we have a temperature cut-off valve, so once the device reaches a certain degree it will shut off and cool down," Owen said.
Radiofrequency energy has been used in medical procedures for years, and it turns out it works really well on the vaginal tissue, Owen said.
"The tissue responds really well to it," she said. "The heat goes in and forces the existing collagen fibers to contract and this will immediately tighten the skin and pull it together."
Long term, the technique works because the body recognizes the heat as an injury and sends in natural healing forces to produce new collagen fibers, which leads to long-term tightening of the tissue.
While some patients who ask for the procedure are looking for more of a cosmetic solution, Owen said her practice has seen "amazing results" with using the device to treat medical indications such as stress urinary incontinence, post-menopausal vaginal dryness, or sexual dysfunctions.
"We're just rejuvenating the tissue in these older women and making it healthy again so that they are more comfortable," she said.
The reason the therapy works for incontinence, Owen said, is that when the tissue on the vaginal wall is tightened, it acts as a support to the urethra, which helps prevent leaks.
"We've seen phenomenal results so far," she said, referring specifically to incontinence.
The Votiva treatments, which are intended to be delivered in three sessions, two to four weeks apart, are recommended as an adjunct to kegel exercises, Owen said.
"Kegals are addressing more the muscles of the pelvis and this is addressing the tissue," she said.
Owen said younger patients tend to see improvements sooner, with some reporting a difference as soon as the same day of the first treatment.
"We can feel a difference as we're treating someone, especially the older women," she said, explaining that the probe feels differently on the tissue at the beginning of the treatment compared to at the end of the treatment.
It really comes down to a quality of life issue, Owen said, especially for older women dealing with incontinence. "They're just happy not having to wear pads anymore, or diapers ... to be able to play with their grandchildren again, jump on the trampoline without peeing all over themselves, and intercourse is more comfortable."
The learning curve to use the device is "very fast," Owen said.
"Once you learn the technique, it's not hard," she said. "The beautiful thing for physicians is I don't have to be the one performing the procedure. I can keep seeing patients in my office and my assistant can be the one performing that, and I feel 100% safe putting that responsibility in her hands because the device is so safe."
The device has been cleared by FDA but is not currently covered by insurance. Prospective patients can click here to learn more about the procedure or to connect with Owen directly.