The word ‘LASER’ is an acronym for ‘Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation’. Laser light energy has been widely used for different medical and surgical indications. Different light sources are available for the laser practitioner. In the last years, a number of publications have appeared and vaginal laser has gained interest as a treatment for genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) and as an option for stress urinary incontinence (SUI) [1-10].
The carbon dioxide (CO2) laser is the first-generation laser for GSM treatment. In 2011, Gaspar and colleagues  first demonstrated that vaginal fractional CO2 laser treatment induced a significant improvement in clinical and histological signs of vaginal atrophy. Subsequently, in a pivotal paper, Salvatore and colleagues  reported a 12-week study where symptoms were analyzed before and after three sessions (one per month) of fractionated CO2 laser, using a specific, registered technology. This paper opened a new era for non-hormonal treatment of GSM. Other studies confirmed these data, showing morphological changes in vaginal tissues, and the alleviation of the symptoms of dryness and dyspareunia , with an improvement in sexual gratification.
In the same years, there were studies of the thermal effects of a non-ablative 2940 nm Erbium:YAG laser, using precisely controlled, sequentially packaged bursts of long pulses (SMOOTH® mode vaginal erbium laser, VEL). The SMOOTH mode is registered and allows the use of full beam and patterned handpieces to deliver Er:YAG laser energy with different fluences to the vaginal tissue. VEL increases the tissue temperature up to the optimal range, but does not exceed the threshold for ablation or tissue damage, leading to significant improvement in GSM [4-7].
Both the microablative fractional CO2 laser and the non-ablative VEL have been repeatedly reported in observational studies to be effective for GSM treatment: vaginal dryness improves in 80–90% of women and dyspareunia in all (100.0%) sexually active women, with clinical changes similar to those induced by local estrogen administration. In addition, VEL treatment induces a deep collagen remodelling and synthesis , leading to a reinforcement to correct mild to moderate SUI [8-10]. VEL was reported to improve SUI as well as vaginal prolapse, by assessing the impact on the Incontinence Questionnaire-Urinary Incontinence Short Form (ICIQ-UI SF), the PAD test, the post-void residual urine volume and Q-tip angulation [8-10]. After VEL treatment, a reduction of four to six points in the ICIQ-UI score has been reported, with a success in 70–80% of patients [8-10].
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Pisa University Hospital, Pisa, Italy
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy
Gaspar A, Addamo G, Brandi H. Vaginal fractional CO2 laser: a minimally invasive option for vaginal rejuvenation. Am J Cosmetic Surg 2011;28:156-62
Salvatore S, Nappi RE, Zerbinati N, et al. A 12-week treatment with fractional CO2 laser for vulvovaginal atrophy: a pilot study. Climacteric 2014;17:363-9
Sokol ER, Karram MM. An assessment of the safety and efficacy of a fractional CO2 laser system for the treatment of vulvovaginal atrophy. Menopause 2016;23:1102-7
Vizintin Z, Lukac M, Kazic M, Tettamanti M. Erbium laser in gynecology, Climacteric 2015;18(Suppl 1):4-8
Gambacciani M, Levancini M, Cervigni M. Vaginal erbium laser: the second-generation thermotherapy for the genitourinary syndrome of menopause. Climacteric 2015;18:757–63
Gaspar A, Brandi H, Gomez V, Luque D. Efficacy of Erbium:YAG laser treatment compared to topical estriol treatment for symptoms of genitourinary syndrome of menopause. Lasers Surg Med 2016;49:160–8
Gambacciani M, Levancini M. Vaginal erbium laser as second-generation thermotherapy for the genitourinary syndrome of menopause: a pilot study in breast cancer survivors. Menopause 2017;24:316-19
Ogrinc UB, Sencar S, Lenasi H. Novel minimally invasive laser treatment of urinary incontinence in women. Lasers Surg Med 2015;47:689-97
Fistonic N, Fistonic I, Gustek SF, et al. Minimally invasive, non-ablative Er:YAG laser treatment of stress urinary incontinence in women–a pilot study. Lasers Med Sci 2016;31:635-43
Tien YW, Hsiao SM, Lee CN, Lin HH. Effects of laser procedure for female urodynamic stress incontinence on pad weight, urodynamics, and sexual function. Int Urogynecol J 2016;28:469-76