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Canton gynecologist touts new treatment for post-menopausal women

Canton Repository - 2/11/2019

Feb. 10--CANTON Following her successful treatment for breast cancer, medical office manager Wendy Rainesberger and her husband soon encountered a new problem that a lot of couples experience, but don't talk about.

But she didn't have to go far for help.

Her boss, Dr. Priya Ramaiah, had the solution.

Ramiah, a gynecologist at Total Woman's Care at 1445 Harrison Ave. NW, is one of just three physicians in the area offering MonaLisa Touch, a carbon-dioxide fractional laser which stimulates the regrowth of collagen and blood supply in the vagina, which can thin as a result of menopause, or when breast-cancer survivors can't undergo hormone-replacement therapy.

Ramaiah said that when vaginal tissue grows too thin, sexual activity can become painful.

"It tears, like a paper cut," she said. "Three of four women will have changes in their vaginal tissue. Most stay silent. Even if you're not sexually active, it can become irritated."

Because MonaLisa Touch does not require anesthesia, patients undergo a total of three in-office treatments, done six to eight weeks apart. They take about five minutes.

Ramaiah said the laser used is specially formulated for gynecological procedures.

"Many physicians aren't aware that it's available," said Ramaiah, who has been offering the procedure since December. "I'm always looking for something else that can help."

The FDA-approved treatment was created in Italy in 2012, and brought to America by Dr. Mickey Karram, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. It underwent clinical trials in California in 2014.

"They found out this was game-changer," Ramaiah said. "Eighty to 90 percent of patients see an improvement after three treatments."

The treatment, she said, also can be used to treat incontinence, dryness, itching, certain chronic infections, vaginal and vulvar atrophy, and well as restore urogenital function.

Ramaiah said "100 percent" of the women she's treated so far have seen improvement.

Her first patient was a breast-cancer survivor who couldn't use a hormone replacement therapy.

"Breast cancer survivors are a large group that's suffering because they can't take hormonal treatment," she said.

Because Rainesberger is taking part in a breast cancer clinical trial, she could only use over-the-counter treatments, but they were only so effective.

"It got to the point where it was too uncomfortable," she said.

"A lot of women want that same closeness," Ramaiah said. "Some husbands are probably equally frustrated."

Rainesberger noted that she has already experienced improvement from her first treatment with MonaLisa Touch.

"I'm ready for the next one," she said with a laugh.

Though MonaLisa Touch is a medical procedure, it is not yet covered by health insurance, which frustrates Ramaiah, who noted that Viagra is covered.

"I hope they will when they see it's not cosmetic," she said. "It's not just about sex. It's a quality of life issue. It's about the treatment of a medical problem."

Ramaiah said a woman doesn't have to be a patient to receive treatment, which costs between $600 to $1,000 per session, but said the price is comparable to one year of hormonal replacement therapy.

"You can get the treatment here and go back to your doctor," she said.

To learn more about MonaLisa Touch, Total Women's Care will host a "Love Yourself Event" from 6 to 8 p.m.Feb. 13. To place a reservation, call 330-452-9900; email lljtwc@gmail.com; or visit www.ramaiahgyn.com

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