Dr Novikova explaining genital bleaching to patient in her office.

What is genital skin lightening or bleaching or depigmentation treatment?

It is a procedure to lighten darkened skin in genital area – labia majora, internal thighs, perianal area.

Who requests genital bleaching?

Women develop darkened skin during pregnancies and as they age. Some women do not like the appearance and request procedures to lighten the skin. It is purely cosmetic procedure to improve appearance.

How is genital skin depigmentation performed?

We are excited to offer Mesoesthetic intimate depigmentation treatment which is once off procedure performed by a therapist in the office. The darkened skin is cleaned, peel is applied for 7 minutes, then neutralised and a mask is applied. The treated skin is wrapped in clinwrap and the post-procedure advice is given to wash off the mask with copious amounts of lukewarm water in 2 hours and apply another mask for 15 minutes and wipe it off after that.

A home serum is used daily for 1-2 months starting 2 days after the peel.

This peel contains a combination of very effective and safe ingredients to lighten the skin such as tranexamic acid, lactic acid, kojic acid, niacinamide, 4-butylreorcinol, diosmine, retinyl palmilate, ferulic acid, glycyrrhiza glabra root.

Dr Novikova also offers CO2 laser skin lightening in Cape Town office only.

The darker skin tones are not suitable for laser skin lightening due to risk hypopigmentation (patchy white areas appearing following the laser treatment) and in such cases we use Mesoesthetic peel. Laser skin lightening is performed in the office. Dr Novikova will clean the skin with a special antiseptic solution and skin is numbed with a cream before the procedure. Women usually need 3-6 laser sessions to get the desired result.

Bleaching can be combined with other cosmetic procedures. Bleaching is done in doctor’s office and does not require general anaesthetic.

At times doctor will prescribe a medication called tranexamic acid (tablets taken orally) to enhance the hyperpigmentation treatment process.

What is post-procedure care?

The sun exposure to the area should be strictly avoided for 6 months. You should use SPF cream in the area when undergoing any sun exposure even in areas covered by clothes.

Both peel and laser cause skin microtrauma which potentially can lead to increased risk of STI transmission so practicing safe sex is important. There is no downtime after the procedure, but if there is increased sensitivity patients are advised to avoid sexual activity until it disappears, usually from a few days to up to a week.

What are the possible causes of discolouration?

  • Genetics
  • Hormonal changes
  • Age
  • Childbirth

What are the different methods of Genital Lightening?

We use two types of genital skin lightening depending on the patient’s skin tone. Overall, skin lightening, particularly genital bleaching, is a timely process which requires a fair amount of dedication due to the number of sessions (either laser or peel) which are required to achieve the desired effect. As a patient, it may become frustrating when the effect is not evident after the first couple of treatments.

Laser skin lightening is performed in the office. Dr Novikova will clean the skin with a special antiseptic solution before the procedure and use a CO2 laser to bleach the skin. The procedure takes place using a latest-generation special laser. Depending on the severity of the discolouration, women usually need 3-6 sessions to get the desired result. Each session lasts for 10-15 minutes and is done on an outpatient basis. The procedure is performed using local anaesthesia and is a low-risk procedure.

Darker skin tones are not suitable for laser lightening due to risk of hypo-pigmentation (patchy white areas appearing following the laser treatment) and in such cases, we use cosmeceutical skin lightening. Cosmeceutical products are used to improve and enhance the skin’s appearance, by using biologically active ingredients. This group of products work on a cellular and molecular level in order to be potently effective and safe. Skin lightening ingredients are applied in addition to a peel with micro-needling. Cosmeceutical skin lightening requires 3-6 sessions (and sometimes more) to achieve the desired result. We advise a combination of our treatments with the home use of genital skin lightening cream which should be applied daily.

What to expect from the Genital Lightening procedure?

A doctor or senior therapist will assess your skin and prescribe an individualized personal treatment and topical, prescription only medication will be specifically mixed according to your needs and applied in the consultation room.

Genital lightening can be safely combined with other cosmetic procedures. Lightening is done in the office and does not require general anesthetic.

The procedure takes place using a latest-generation special laser, on three or more sessions, depending on the severity of the discolouration. Each session usually lasts between 10-15 minutes and is done as an outpatient. The procedure is performed using local anaesthesia. Laser Vaginal Lightening is a low-risk procedure and can also be combined with other Cosmetic procedures of the intimate area.

For people with very dark pigmentation, cosmeceutical lightening is more effective. Cosmeceutical products are used to improve and enhance the skin’s appearance by using biologically active ingredients.

What are the contraindications to the procedure?

Active infection, cancer, autoimmune conditions. Women who have a history of genital herpes will be prescribed antiviral medications to prevent herpes outbreak.