Treatment to External Labia and Vaginal Canal With CO2 Laser for Symptoms of Vulvovaginal Atrophy in Postmenopausal Women

Aesthet Surg J. 2019 Jan 1;39(1):83-93. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjy087.


Background: Increasingly, women have sought alternatives to traditional options (lubricants, estrogen products, and hormone replacement therapy) for unwelcome vaginal changes of menopause.

Objectives: This study evaluated whether a series of three monthly fractional CO2 laser treatments significantly improves and maintains vaginal health indices of elasticity, fluid volume, pH level, epithelial integrity, and moisture. Self-reported symptoms of vaginal atrophy were also measured. Biopsy samples after a series of three treatments were evaluated for histological changes to vaginal canal tissue.

Methods: Forty postmenopausal women were treated extravaginally and internally with a fractional CO2 laser. Objective measurements of vaginal health index, as well as subjective measurements of symptoms of vulvovaginal atrophy (VVA), urinary incontinence, and sexual function were reported at baseline. Follow-up evaluations were at one, three, six, and 12 months after the third treatment.

Results: Vaginal health index improved significantly after the first treatment and was maintained with mean improvement of 9.6 ± 3.3 (P < 0.001) and 9.5 ± 3.3 (P < 0.001) at the 6- and 12-month follow ups, respectively. Vaginal symptoms of dryness, itching, and dyspareunia improved significantly (P < 0.05) at all evaluations. Histological findings showed increased collagen and elastin staining, as well as a thicker epithelium with an increased number of cell layers and a better degree of surface maturation.

Conclusions: Fractional CO2 laser treatments were well tolerated and were associated with improvement in vaginal health and amelioration of symptoms of VVA. Histological changes in the epithelium and lamina propria, caused by fractional CO2 laser treatments, correlated with clinical restoration of vaginal hydration and pH to premenopausal levels.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Atrophy / physiopathology
  • Atrophy / surgery
  • Biopsy
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lasers, Gas / therapeutic use*
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / physiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vagina / pathology
  • Vagina / radiation effects
  • Vaginal Diseases / pathology
  • Vaginal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Vaginal Diseases / radiotherapy*
  • Vulva / pathology
  • Vulva / radiation effects
  • Vulvar Diseases / pathology
  • Vulvar Diseases / physiopathology
  • Vulvar Diseases / radiotherapy*