From Hell to Healing
By Lisa Vuich, Renew Medi Spa
In 2009 I sold a private Internal Medicine practice that I had spent 7 years developing to a local hospital, in order to focus my attention more completely on aesthetic and regenerative medicine. In the decade since then, I will occasionally be asked if I “miss” traditional medicine. The good news is I don’t miss the rat race of arguing with insurance companies, uncompensated work hours, and being forced to see more and more ill patients in less and less time in a setting of increased documentation requirements and inadequate support staff. Sad, but true. Fortunately and simultaneously, advances in alternative and regenerative medicine were opening up exciting opportunities for providers to treat medical conditions that in some cases were inadequately addressed with traditional medicine drug intervention. Enter the modern-day medical spa, where treatments go beyond the “fluff and buff”.
I quickly sought training in platelet rich plasma (PRP) techniques, which had been used for many years in orthopedics and in burn and wound centers but were newer to the aesthetic arena. Soon after that, non-surgical “vaginal rejuvenation” (for lack of a better term) was all the buzz- the treatment of urinary incontinence, vaginal atrophy/dryness/laxity and vaginal pain- with a number of new devices coming into the market over a fairly short period of time. The first one I obtained was ThermiVa, which I immediately began combining with PRP. We were helping women heal who had already failed everything their PCP and OBGYN had tried, and that felt great. One such patient taught me a lot about women and the power of regenerative medicine.
Sandra had been a MediSpa client for some time, for the treatment of her acne scars. One day in the treatment room, her voice became hushed and she asked if she could talk to me about something else, something she was “embarrassed” to discuss. She had overheard a conversation about vaginal treatment, which up until that point she did not know we were offering. She went on to tell me that she had been suffering for years with a condition called lichen sclerosus (LS). She was desperate for anything that might help her, and she wanted my opinion as to whether the treatments we offered might provide her with any relief whatsoever.
Lichen sclerosus is a chronic skin condition that affects six times as many women as men. It is most often diagnosed in women between the ages of 40 and 60, though younger women can be affected as well, and it has a strong predilection for affecting the genital region. Sandra had been to her PCP and OBGYN numerous times with debilitating symptoms- intense itching, burning pain and irritation, and for a long time did not have a diagnosis. She was treated as if she had an infection of some sort. Finally a dermatologist told her “I think you have LS” and referred her to a “Vag Clinic” in Boston. Her condition was proven with a skin biopsy, and for the first time she had some hope that the end was in sight. Her symptoms had become debilitating. There were many days she could not leave the house due to the discomfort. There were many times she was out for social engagements and had to leave because she was in so much pain, or run into a public bathroom and try to apply something topically to soothe the symptoms long enough for her to tolerate being there. Sexual relations with her husband was out of the question. The V Clinic gave her topical prescriptions similar to what her PCP had already been trying, which had been causing her to get more frequent urinary tract and yeast infections. She was discouraged. Over 60 doctor visits, and she felt no closer to an answer.
I was honest with Sandra that up until that point I had not personally treated LS with PRP, but I was aware of some success stories amongst my colleagues and I felt the healing potential of the radiofrequency treatment ThermiVa might also add benefit though there were no formal “studies” to prove this. We made the decision to proceed, and for Sandra it has been life changing.
With an initial series of three ThermiVa sessions and one PRP injection, Sandra was symptom free and back to functioning normally. On her return to the V Clinic in Boston, she describes that her doctors were shocked and amazed at the health of her tissues and her lack of symptoms. They could not believe that she was not dependent on topical creams, and they asked for more information about the treatments she had received. We repeat the PRP injection approximately every 6 months and perform the RF treatment yearly. She is symptom free, and eternally grateful.
As a woman and as a healthcare provider, I am reminded of how much we as women become accustomed to putting on a brave face; how often we project to the world an appearance that everything is “great”, when inside and behind closed doors there is suffering. I would have never imagined back in 2015 that the Sandra I had been treating for acne scars had been simultaneously suffering so acutely, had she not had the courage to ask me about it when we started offering the procedure.
Fast forward to 2020, and Renew MediSpa now has the Renew MediSpa Training Institute in Derry, New Hampshire, where we teach physicians and nurses how to perform these and other regenerative procedures for women and men. I encourage providers who wish to learn more to contact us at any time for more information.