World Menopause Day: treating menopausal patients

The menopause is a life-changing event, with women experiencing symptoms which can affect both their mental and physical health and accelerate the signs of ageing. Women looking to address the side-effects of the menopause often seek help from healthcare professionals, including aesthetic practitioners. With World Menopause Day taking place on 18 October, we ask what are the key considerations aesthetic practitioners should be aware of when treating menopausal women?

Common side effects

Menopause naturally occurs in women aged between 45 and 55, although it can also start slightly earlier or later in a woman’s life. Women often begin to experience menopausal symptoms during the perimenopause (the beginning of the menopause) – with symptoms commonly lasting between two to five years. Symptoms can vary, and not all women experience the same symptoms, but many suffer from hot flushes, vaginal dryness, weight gain, headaches and ageing of the skin. This is due to a natural change in the body’s sex hormones, including a lack of oestrogen, causing a reduction in collagen, a protein that promotes skin elasticity, and an increase in dryness.

Treatment options

There are many treatments available for menopausal symptoms, including:

Dry skin – During the menopause, the skin thins due to collagen loss caused by a lack of oestrogen, which causes a reduction in skin elasticity and moisture. Subsequently, menopausal skin is thinner and dryer. It is advisable in the first instance to recommend that your patient follow a tailored skincare regime, ensuring they cleanse, tone and moisturise to help rejuvenate the skin. It is also important to highlight the importance of a healthy diet and taking vitamin-enriched supplements. For a quicker transformation, chemical peels, microdermabrasion and resurfacing laser treatment are potential treatment options which may work for your patient.

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Wrinkles and sagging skin – Oestrogens stimulate fat deposits over the female body; as oestrogen levels lower during the menopause, fat deposits tend to become redistributed to the abdomen, buttocks and thighs. Meanwhile it is common for menopausal women to experience a loss of supportive fat below the skin of the face, neck, hands and arms along with the appearance of wrinkles. Popular treatment areas are the face, jowls, neck and upper arms; there are numerous cosmetic procedures available for sagging skin, but laser treatment, including ultrasound and radiofrequency, are effective options.

Weight gain – It is estimated that the average weight gain for a menopausal woman is 10 to 15 pounds. Hormonal changes can increase the likelihood of gaining weight, but another cause is ageing, as muscle mass typically diminishes with age, while fat increases. Losing muscle mass slows the body’s metabolism, making it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight.  Other factors, such as a lack of exercise, unhealthy eating and not enough sleep may contribute to menopausal weight gain. As an aesthetic practitioner, it is important to recommend a healthy, nutritional diet to your patients, but if they are suitable for cosmetic treatment, non-surgical options like cryolipolysis, laser fat reduction, ultrasound fat reduction and red-light therapy are also available.

Vaginal dryness – As oestrogen levels decrease during the menopause, many women experience vaginal dryness as the skin and support tissues of the vulva and vagina become thinner and less elastic. One in three menopausal women experience this condition, which can often be debilitating; vaginal dryness can cause pain during sex and can make it uncomfortable to do simple everyday things like sit, stand, exercise and urinate. There are treatments available for this however, like minimally invasive vaginal laser treatments such as MonaLisa Touch and FemiLift, which many aesthetic practitioners offer in their clinics.

Patient selection is always key, but if your patient is suitable for any of the above treatments, it may help their quality of life and confidence, benefiting them not only physically but mentally too, making the menopause that bit easier for them to manage.

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