Most women can tell you exactly what cellulite looks like, and are all too quick to point out their own areas of concern – often noting that if they just did this or that workout, they could get rid of it once and for all. But, despite cellulite being a completely normal occurrence, the cellulite removal efforts are nowhere close to being over.
Let’s see what the buzz is about and find out more about cellulite and what we can do to rid ourselves of this orange peel skin!
What is Cellulite and What Causes Cellulite?
The term cellulite has been used since the 1920’s but didn’t gain popularity in the United States until the 1960’s. Cellulite is a descriptor, not a specific type of fat, which describes the appearance of dimpled and uneven skin, usually in the stomach, hips, butt and thigh areas. Unfortunately, cellulite – which affects nearly 85% women (and in some rare cases, men) – is not preventable.
The physical appearance of cellulite is caused by three factors: connective tissues, fat deposits and thin skin.
In the body, there are fibrous tissue bands that connect the skin to the underlying deeper tissue, like muscle. Between the skin and muscle is a layer of fat, which these connective bands separate into “pockets”. When these bands become tight and inflexible, the fat pockets begin to bulge, pressing against the skin. A dimple is created where the band connects, and unevenness occurs where the fat is bulging. The thinner the skin over the area is, the more evident the appearance of cellulite.
A common misconception is that cellulite occurs only in overweight women; however both overweight and thin women can have cellulite. Some other factors that contribute to cellulite include aging, genetics, hormones, lifestyle, dramatic weight gain or weight loss, and differences in skin architecture.
The Problem With Cellulite Treatment Options
From creams and massages to laser treatments, you don’t have to look far to find products or services claiming to get rid of cellulite. But while some of these cellulite treatments may offer temporary benefits (useful for a special occasion), there are no clinical studies to show that any of these options serve as a cellulite cure.
Topical cellulite treatments, including laser procedures, typically only address one aspect of cellulite – thin or lax skin. But without addressing other underlying causes like fat deposits, none of these treatments can truly cure cellulite.
So, why not just get liposuction to remove the fat so there are no lumps to be found? Even though liposuction is designed to remove fat pockets but it can actually make cellulite more noticeable.
Liposuction is a physically aggressive treatment option that can actually worsen the appearance of cellulite. For example, the suction tube can damage the connective tissues under the skin, leaving them shortened and scarred (i.e. more rigid), contributing to more pronounced dimples. There is also a potential that the liposuction can be performed unevenly, leaving cellulite-like lumpiness.
But, in the end, the whole procedure can leave skin stretched. Combine this with aging and sun exposure and there is plenty of potential for the appearance of cellulite to be highlighted post-liposuction.
Why is Cellulaze Different?
It is important to be realistic about cellulite treatment options. While liposuction can be appropriate in some instances, it isn’t a great option for cellulite removal. It’s best to stick with procedures that specifically target cellulite, like Cellulaze.
Cellulaze, by Cynosure, is a new treatment that addresses cellulite from under the skin using a laser. And, according to a small study conducted by Dr. Barry DiBernardo, Cellulaze can offer long-term results.
Why is Cellulaze getting so much attention? This is the first time a procedure addresses all three structural issues that contribute to cellulite – connective tissues that create the dimples, fat deposits that create the bulges, and too-thin skin that highlights unevenness.
How Does Cellulaze Work?
Following the consultation, the procedure is completed in a single office visit:
First, the doctor marks the area to be treated, noting the distinct dimples and bulges. Once the area is numbed, your physician will insert a thin tube, called a cannula, containing the SideLaze3D™ Cellulaze laser fiber, under the skin. The physician then guides the laser through the treatment area and attacks each of the three structural issues: first, liquefying the fat deposits; then disconnecting the connective fibers; and finally, applying energy just under the dermal layer in order to stimulate collagen and improve the thickness and elasticity of the skin. The liquefied fat is then pressed out from underneath the skin.
The procedure is considered to be minimally-invasive. Using only a local anesthetic, the patient stays awake through the 1 to 1 ½ hour procedure.
Following the procedure, the company notes that some bruising, discomfort and minor fluid leak from the points of incision are to be expected. One to two days of downtime is recommended before returning to daily activities and strenuous exercise can be resumed in a week or two.
Results are not immediate and patients can expect continued improvement for three to twelve months. However, a healthy diet and lifestyle is encouraged following the treatment in order to maintain results.
Patients can expect to pay $5,000 to $7,000 for the procedure, but cost varies based on the size of the area to be treated and the physician performing the procedure.
Currently, only a small number of aesthetic plastic surgeons and cosmetic dermatologists are offering Cellulaze. To find a qualified physician in your area, visit the company’s website to access the physician locator feature.
Are Patients Satisfied with Cellulaze?
According to the small study, patients are satisfied with outcome, reporting diminished cellulite and smoother skin. Online patient reviews and forums are also reflecting the positive feedback.
The results are purported to be long-term. The only clinical study conducted on the procedure thus far indicated that patients were experiencing lasting results at one year post-op. However, the first trial patients were treated over three years ago and report that they are still enjoying the benefits of the procedure.
The drawback? Side effects and complications can include everything from bruising, inflammation, soreness and numbness to irregularities, burns and seromas (fluid-buildup). The discomfort and bruising can be substantial, lasting up to three months. Which means you’ll definitely want to schedule this procedure in the winter months.
However, the side effects seem to be physician-dependant, highlighting the importance of doing the research to select a doctor with experience. It’s also smart to ask your physician about his or her experience with Cellulaze, as well as other subcutaneous laser procedures.
What Can be Done for Downtime?
Your doctor will likely use a compression garment to help manage the inflammation following your procedure. However, bruising and swelling can be easily addressed with natural remedies like homeopathic Arnica Montana and the enzyme Bromelain.
VitaMedica Recovery Products are designed specifically for aesthetic procedures like Cellulaze. The combination of VitaMedica’s Homeopathic Arnica Montana 30x and Bromelain with Quercetin, works well to address the bruising, swelling and inflammation that can accompany a procedure like Cellulaze.
For more comprehensive support, you may want to try VitaMedica’s Recovery Support Program, which includes a specialty multi-nutrient called Clinical Support Program to promote healing in combination with with VitaMedica’s Arnica Montana.
For more information on Cellulaze, visit www.Cellulaze.com. Also, check out RealSelf.com, the largest plastic surgery review website which offers patients the opportunity to ask questions, participate in forums and share photos, experiences and pricing information.
If you’re looking to get rid of stubborn cellulite, you can’t forget the importance of having a healthy diet and exercise plan, even after a procedure like Cellulaze. But the fact remains that lasting cellulite reduction requires a multi-directional approach; you can’t just treat one aspect of the issue. That’s why, to be truly effective, a cellulite treatment has to address more than fat and the surface of skin.
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.