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Laser treatment

Find out how laser treatment treats abnormal cells in the lining of the vagina. These abnormal cells are called vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN).

What laser treatment is

A laser is a very thin, focused beam of light that heats the tissue it is directed at. Lasers can focus very accurately on tiny areas.

The doctor uses the laser beam to burn away the abnormal cells in the vagina. This is called laser ablation.

Preparing for laser treatment

Check your appointment letter to see if you need to do anything to prepare. You are usually able to eat and drink before your treatment, but check with the department if you are not sure.

You can usually take your medications as normal. But if you take blood thinning medication you might need to stop these before your treatment. Ask your GP or contact the department.

How you have it

You usually have treatment as an outpatient appointment. You might need to undress your lower half or you may have a gown to put on.

You lie on your back on a couch with your legs raised up in stirrups. The doctor places a sterile sheet over your waist and pelvic area. Your doctor puts a speculum into your vagina to hold it open and then puts local anaesthetic onto your vaginal wall to numb the area.

You might have some samples of tissue (biopsies) taken before the laser treatment. Your doctor sends the samples to the laboratory so that the cells can be examined.

They then point the laser beam at the abnormal areas. The laser burns away the abnormal area. So you may notice a slight burning smell during the treatment. This is nothing to worry about. It is just the laser working.

Some women might have this treatment under a general anaesthetic. So they are asleep and wake up when the treatment has finished.

After laser treatment

You can get dressed and usually go home afterwards. You can get back to normal straight away but avoid doing anything too strenuous for the rest of the day.

You may have period type pains for the rest of the day. Simple painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen usually help.

You should expect to have some bleeding or discharge for some days after the treatment. Use a sanitary towel. To allow the area to heal don't use tampons. You might also be advised not to have vaginal intercourse for a period of time after treatment to allow healing.

The doctor or nurse will go through what to expect. They should also tell you who to contact if you have any concerns or questions. Ask whether you need to have a follow up appointment.

Last reviewed: 
15 May 2018
  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and R Hochhauser
    Wiley Blackwell, 2015

  • Textbook of Uncommon Cancer (4th Edition)
    D Raghavan and others
    John Wiley and Sons. 2012

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