As a somewhat rare condition, Lichen Sclerosus is not something most doctors are familiar with or can treat easily. Finding a specialist who understands this disease in-depth can help you find long-term relief for something that causes great discomfort.
At Amy Brenner, MD & Associates, we focus on a comprehensive approach for women’s health and aesthetic services. With a team of gynecologists and medical professionals with decades of experience, our providers are sought after as Lichen Sclerosus specialists.
Learn more about this condition and treatments available at our practice below.
What is Lichen Sclerosus?
Lichen Sclerosus is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the skin and creates discomfort, primarily on the vulva and anal region. It is not contagious and is not very common, affecting approximately 1.7% of patients in 1 general gynecology private practice. However, it’s important to note that this condition can go undiagnosed for years when looking at specific estimates.
The inflammatory effects of Lichen Sclerosus cause plaques to form on the inner and outer portions of the vulva and sometimes near the anus. Most often, the plaques may create scar tissue and cause great discomfort.
In some circumstances, Lichen Sclerosus can actually cause tissue to “fuse” together, creating extreme discomfort and negatively affecting sexual and health function.
What does Lichen Sclerosus look like?
Lichen Sclerosus plaques typically look like smooth, white patches on the skin. It can be one large area of discoloration or appear in multiple patches. Skin becomes thicker and appears wrinkled over time. Without treatment, this condition can create scar tissue around the vulva; scarring and desensitization is particularly common around the clitoris.
How do I know if I have Lichen Sclerosus?
To confirm a Lichen Sclerosus diagnosis, you will need your gynecologist to perform a skin biopsy. Not all doctors are familiar with this condition and may misdiagnose it as a yeast infection. If you’ve had recurrent yeast infections that are resistant to treatment, you may want to find out if it could be Lichen Sclerosus.
The average onset of symptoms is 2.5 years, so if you start to notice changes like itching, discomfort, or pain with intercourse, you should see your gynecologist for an exam.
An average of 50% of those with Lichen Sclerosus are asymptomatic, but it’s still important to seek treatment to prevent long-term complications.
The most common symptoms of Lichen Sclerosus early in the disease are:
- Severe Itching
- Changes in color or texture of the vulva
As it progresses, other symptoms may include:
- Smooth or wrinkled patches
- Scarring, particularly on the clitoris
- Discomfort from sexual intercourse
- Decreased sensation
- Tearing or bleeding from intercourse
- Trouble achieving orgasm
Over time when left untreated, there is a risk of the lips of the vagina becoming scarred and fused together, creating the need for corrective surgery.
An exact cause is not known, but Lichen Sclerosus is thought to be chronic autoimmune disorder, meaning your body is mistakenly attacking its own healthy cells by thinking that they are foreign.
On average, post-menopausal women are the highest risk for developing Lichen Sclerosus. Because this group is the most diagnosed, some experts believe it’s linked to hormone levels.
Though it’s primarily found in post-menopausal women and prepubescent girls, Lichen Sclerosus can happen at any age.
Why you should see a Lichen Sclerosus specialist near you
If you may have Lichen Sclerosus or currently have a diagnosis, it’s important to visit a Lichen Sclerosus specialist for several reasons.
They are well-versed in this rare condition
Unfortunately, many doctors are not familiar with Lichen Sclerosus and may not accurately diagnose it. It’s also important to see a Lichen Sclerosus specialist because this provider has in-depth knowledge of the variety of symptoms and levels of this condition. They can create the best treatment plan for your needs.
Many providers use the traditional treatment of topical steroids for Lichen Sclerosus. The problem of long-term steroid use is thinning of the tissue. Thin tissue can cause more issues in the future that patients may already be susceptible to, such as scarring, pain during intercourse, and infection.
A Lichen Sclerosus specialist can employ a variety of treatments to best fit your needs. At Amy Brenner, MD & Associates, our providers often use a combination treatment plan to successfully treat patients with Lichen Sclerosus, including laser treatments, PRP, bioidentical hormone therapy, lysis of adhesions, vaginal dilators, and Estrogen cream.
It takes an experienced provider to create the best combination of treatments to fit your needs.
A specialist knows how to treat the specific areas affected by Lichen Sclerosus
A good specialist is not only extremely knowledgeable of the disease itself, but also understands the areas the disease affects. Primarily, it impacts the vulva and anus areas. Needless to say, these delicate areas need special care when receiving treatment.
A specialist with a background in gynecology offers the best of both worlds when it comes to treating Lichen Sclerosus. This type of provider knows the intricacies of the vulvar anatomy and vaginal health. They can perform treatment techniques that other providers are not as skilled in.
The doctors and providers at our practice have years of experience treating gynecological conditions. Patients travel from all over to receive treatments from our team, as our combination treatments are unique to other providers.
Get yearly or twice yearly exams to monitor LS changes
Once you have a diagnosis of LS, you should schedule routine exams and a treatment plan to address this condition so it doesn’t worsen. Visit a Lichen Sclerosus specialist who can create a customized treatment plan for you to ensure your health long term.
Lichen Sclerosus treatments available at Amy Brenner, MD & Associates
At our women’s health practice in Mason, Ohio, we treat patients from the Cincinnati region. We also have patients travel to us from all over the United States because of our Lichen Sclerosus treatment offerings.
One of the most effective treatments we’ve found success with is laser therapy, both externally and internally on the vulva and vagina. Laser therapy triggers your body’s natural healing response to rejuvenate inflamed tissue and improve many symptoms of LS.
Most often, we combine laser treatments with PRP treatments to the vulva.
PRP is a treatment where we use your body’s own resources to restore skin tissue. For treating Lichen Sclerosus and other sexual health conditions with PRP.
This treatment works by first drawing a small amount of your blood. We then use a centrifuge to isolate Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP). These platelets are “activated,” meaning they release 8 growth factors that heal damaged tissue through precise injections in the affected area.
PRP treatment stimulates blood flow, heals soft tissue, and increases collagen production—all of this combines to mend tissue affected by Lichen Sclerosus.
Bioidentical Hormone Therapy
Since hormone levels can be a cause of Lichen Sclerosus, sometimes our team recommends bioidentical hormone therapy as a part of a custom treatment plan. This will improve your hormonal balance, particularly your estrogen levels to help your body function as it should.
Lysis of Adhesions
Lysis means the precise removal of cells. Our providers use the Surgitron to perform lysis, which gives us ultimate control to remove scarred tissue and damaged cells when there are adhesions from Lichen Sclerosus.
Carboxy therapy uses CO2 gas to stimulate blood and lymph circulation to treatment areas for tissue rejuvenation.
In cases of fusion of the labia minora, after surgical correction we may use vaginal dilators to restore the shape and diameter of the vaginal canal.
Another hormone therapy is Estrogen creams. We may recommend this as part of your treatment plan to deliver hormonal balance to the affected areas.
Before and After Lichen Sclerosus Treatment
Finding the best provider for treatment also means viewing several before and after photos of their work.
Frequently Asked Questions
As a Lichen Sclerosus specialist near you, we receive a lot of frequently asked questions about this condition.
What causes Lichen Sclerosus?
No one knows the exact cause of this condition, but it is thought to be an autoimmune disease.
Will I ever be “cured”?
At this time, a cure for the chronic condition Lichen Sclerosus doesn’t exist. However, we can significantly improve your symptoms and wellbeing, as well as lower future health risks through treatment.
How long will I need treatments?
Timing and duration of Lichen Sclerosus treatment varies by patient. In general, this is a chronic condition that may require maintenance therapy.
Does treatment hurt?
Pain during treatment depends on where the patient is in the disease process. Patients who have developed fusion of their tissue can experience some discomfort with treatment. However, we have developed a protocol to help minimize pain throughout the process.
What kind of improvement can I expect with treatment?
Improvement of Lichen Sclerosus through treatment depends on the severity of the disease. In our practice, we have seen an almost 100% resolution of symptoms in patients who follow their recommended treatment plan.
Can lichen sclerosus become cancerous?
Lichen Sclerosus does increase the risk of vulvar cancer. Patients with this condition have a 4-6% increased risk of developing vulvar cancer. Therefore, we always recommend patients with Lichen Sclerosus to receive periodic pelvic exams and biopsy.
Visit the Lichen Sclerosus specialists near you at Amy Brenner, MD & Associates.
We have patients who visit us from all over the country for our specialized Lichen Sclerosus treatments. Our team understands how difficult this condition can be on your health and wellbeing, and we work hard to create a personalized treatment plan for your needs.
As a medspa and medical practice in the Cincinnati region, we have the unique ability to not only boost your overall health, but also help you enhance your outer beauty with aesthetic treatments.
We offer a warm, friendly environment while providing the highest quality aesthetic treatments and wellness plans to help you look great and feel great.
Get started today by using our virtual consultation tool or scheduling an appointment.