Novel RF device resolves a host of feminine health and wellness concerns
As women grow older, the effects of childbirth and menopausal issues can lead to vaginal laxity, urine leakage, difficulty achieving orgasms and dryness. These and other gynecological health concerns often combine with the normal aging process to produce a range of emotional and physical challenges for women. Plus, medical and aesthetic problems in this area have traditionally involved some kind of a surgical procedure, with the associated discomfort and downtime.
Many women that would opt out of vaginal surgery might opt in to solving these women’s health-related issues via ThermiVa® from Thermi, an Almirall company (Irving, Texas, U.S.), a non-ablative aesthetic device that effectively targets muscles, skin and nerves with radiofrequency (RF)-based energy to improve tissue tone and function, increase vaginal moisture levels and lubrication, and restore flexibility and freshness to a woman’s most intimate of areas with little-to-no downtime.
This minimally invasive system has become extremely popular throughout Asia, reported Susan G. Murrmann, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., a gynecology specialist and co-founder of the McDonald Murrmann Center for Wellness and Health for Women in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
“ThermiVa offers a more personalized approach to women’s health,” she began. “During my last tour through the Asia- Pacific (APAC) region, the procedure had generated a lot of interest in Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, India and especially China; while Japan, which is a far more conservative country, has been comparatively slower to adopt feminine rejuvenation.”
Using an S-shaped handpiece, treatment tightens external and internal vulvovaginal tissue via an RF-powered thermistor tip. This same probe is used on the external labia to improve appearance, as well as inside the vagina to reduce laxity, prolapse and incontinence. To address orgasm dysfunction, the probe is applied to the clitoral area, which advances nerve sensitivity and sexual response.
Overall, the ThermiVa procedure improves a woman’s complete vaginal health, said Sejal Desai, M.D., D.N.B., D.H.A., M.I.C.O.G., D.G.O., F.C.P.S., D.F.P, a gynecologist in Mumbai, India, and founder of the Indian Academy of Vaginal Aesthetics. “The treatments are very simple, painless and have no downtime. Patient acceptance and follow-up has been good, too, for this popular therapy,” she said.
According to Dr. Murrmann, the procedure is easy to perform and allows the physician to direct RF energy with extreme precision. “You can customize treatment to your patient based on their needs, and knowing exactly where to apply the energy,” she noted. “The operator monitors tissue temperature via a minimally invasive treatment probe. Whether the patient is more concerned with the aesthetic appearance of their vaginal area, skin tightening or improving incontinence or sexual function, ThermiVa can address those issues and more.”
Patient satisfaction has been rewarding, said Dr. Desai. “We have an entiregallery of testimonials and blessings. My favorite line is, ‘Doc, you changed my life.’ I recall a young mother with urinary leakage who fell at my feet after her first treatment, as she could finally go to the gym wearing tight track pants without panty liners.”
ThermiVa is FDA-cleared for dermatological and general surgical procedures for electrocoagulation and hemostasis. In addition, the device has been FDA-approved for dermatologic conditions, such as skin laxity and dry or thin skin; as well as for surgery and surgical nerve ablation. In Europe, ThermiVa has obtained a CE Mark for vulvovaginal laxity or for treatment of loose tissues of the vulva and vagina.
The key to consistently successful outcomes is the device’s built-in temperature control system. “You have two monitors, the unit’s temperature control and the patient, who is your best monitor,” Dr. Murrmann expressed. “You are able to gauge which temperature is best for your patient and what they can actually tolerate, because some women with thinner skin cannot tolerate more than 42° or 43°. Some can tolerate 45° to 46°.”
ThermiVa’s exceptional safety profile gives it an edge over other technologies vying for APAC’s feminine rejuvenation market, stated Red Alinsod, M.D., a urogynecologist in Laguna Beach, California, U.S., and medical director for women’s health at Thermi.
“After 103,000 cases there has not been a serious adverse event. No blisters and no burns. One report of bruising after hundreds of thousands of cases,” he stated. “Safety wise, it has proved itself.”
Dr. Desai echoed that conclusion. “ThermiVa is very safe. The usual, minor complaints are an occasional feeling of warmth during the procedure, or a tingling feeling in the vagina for a day or two after the procedure. Other than that, no side effects have been observed.”
In addition, Dr. Alinsod argues that RF-based energy is preferable to other available technologies, such as lasers and ultrasound when performing feminine rejuvenation.
“Most physicians will see that RF is exponentially safer than lasers and are also more economical as lasers are a lot more expensive than RF devices. RF-based devices will do well going forward,” he said.
Dr. Murrmann concurred. “When you consider the physics of RF energy and CO2 energy, a laser is used as more of a resurfacing device than anything else. For instance, if you’re treating a menopausal woman then resurfacing is not something that you want to do. You may get temporary swelling and increased secretions, but the laser only penetrates 1 mm of depth and is attracted to water, thus, if your patient is menopausal then she does not have much depth to her epithelium and doesn’t have a lot of water. You just don’t get the same benefits with the use of lasers. Ultimately, ThermiVa’s implementation of RF energy is the better choice.”
To achieve these best results, some clinical training is essential, noted Dr. Desai. “Physicians need to fully understand the indications this procedure can treat, as well as become familiar with how the machine works. However, it has a very easy, gentle learning curve.”
Considering this elevated need for training, Thermi recently announced a new ThermiVa training course in Manila, the Philippines.
“There is a huge interest in the Philippines and Asia in general, for training in this area,” Dr. Alinsod noted. “People from Malaysia, Thailand, China and other regions are coming to Manila for both didactic and hands-on training.”
As the procedure gets taken back home, physicians learn that ThermiVa is a complete women’s health solution, Dr. Desai opined. “There are so many health benefits that impact not only the vagina, but also overall quality of life. I feel in the future ThermiVa will become a household name, and everyone will do it. The market potential is humongous.”