Cellulite is one of the most common cosmetic problems found (mainly) in women. It is characterized by an irregular thickening of the fat layer under the skin, accompanied by tethering of the fibrous bands between the skin and the underlying muscle. It presents with a dimpled or orange peel appearance, which if left untreated, gets worse over time due to thinning of the skin. There are loads of treatments that claim to treat cellulite but the vast majority of them do not provide satisfying results. It can be quite frustrating. Well, not anymore.
Recently, the FDA approved a new procedure that works to target the root cause of the problem: Cellulaze. Cellulaze was developed by Cynosure Inc., the same company that makes SmartLipo AKA laser-assisted lipolysis system.
Cellulaze is a new cosmetic procedure for treating cellulite. It makes use of a small laser probe that is inserted just below the skin surface of the problem area. The laser generates heat that melts and thins out the fat layer and then releases the fibrous tethering band that pull the skin and create the dimpling appearance associated with cellulite. The heat also stimulates collagen production resulting in thicker skin with better elasticity.
There are numerous creams, gels and lotions that claim to treat Cellulite but none are truly effective. Topical solutions sound appealing because they are non-invasive, but they do not address the root cause of the problem. Cellulaze is the first treatment to ever target the very structure of cellulite.
Another way to treat cellulite is through the use of a new device called Cellfina (which was also approved by the FDA recently). The device works by sucking up the skin, allowing the practitioner to cut the tethering bands, much like Cellulaze. This minimally invasive procedure appears to be effective especially when used in the buttock area.
The main advantage of Cellulaze over Cellfina is that it can treat a much larger area. While Cellfina works best in the buttock, Cellulaze on the other hand works well in the thigh area where the problem is more diffuse and there is more general irregularity. Because Cellulaze and Cellfina work differently, they may be combined to get optimal results in each area.
Women generally are the best candidates for treatment with Cellulaze or Cellfina, rather than men. This does not mean that men are discouraged from getting such treatments, but it is a problem that primarily effects women. Men rarely get cellulite because the structure of the fat layer underneath their skin is different from that of women. In women, the fat layer is structured in larger lobules while in men, the fat is arranged in finer small pockets. In addition, men do not have the same kind of fibrous connecting bands. Men almost never have cellulite, and therefore would not benefit from Cellulaze treatment.
Although both liposuction and Cellulaze aim to get rid of fat-related cosmetic problems, the procedures accomplish different things. Liposuction does not treat cellulite, and Cellulaze does not significantly thin the deeper fat layers. Liposuction is a body contouring procedure which involves removal of deep layer of fat. Cellulaze works more superficially to smooth out the fat layer just under the skin, release the tethering bands, and thicken the overlying skin to give a smoother appearance to the skin surface.
The most common misconception patients have is thinking Cellulaze works the same way as liposuction. Liposuction was not designed to treat cellulite. As discussed above, Cellulaze smooths the skin and superficial fat layer, while liposuction removes fat in the deeper layer When treating cellulite, the doctor is not attempting to remove the deeper fat layers, he or she is focusing on creating a smoother appearance of the skin.
Some patients imagine that a Cellulaze treatment would require no downtime because it is a minimally invasive procedure. While it is a minimally invasive procedure, it is still surgical in nature, so there will still be some swelling and bruising afterwards which requires a healing period.
Cellulaze is a surgical procedure, and needs to be done in an operating room making it more expensive than treatments done in a doctor’s office or clinic. Most often Cellulaze is performed with light sedation and local anesthetic. The cost depends on how large the problem area is and how many areas will have to be treated. The estimated price is around $2500 to $4000 per area and most patients will only need a single treatment because Cellulaze gets rid of cellulite for at least one to two years. There are now studies that show improvement for three years or longer.
Patients should not expect a major contour change with Cellulaze because it is not designed to produce that effect. The procedure is directed at treating skin irregularities and bulges. If the patient has severe cellulite with a lot of fat, dimpling, or irregularities then Cellulaze might not be the best treatment because it will only provide a modest improvement. Even for appropriately selected patients, Cellulaze treatment cannot promise perfectly smooth results. It is not a miracle machine. Cellulaze is recommended for moderate cases of cellulite in patients with good skin elasticity.
The swelling and bruising resulting from the procedure can be mild to moderate in nature. This can result in mild discomfort that lasts for up to 2 weeks after the procedure. Pain medication may be needed for the first few days, and usual daily activities can be resumed after 3 to 4 days. For patients who work out, aerobic exercises may be resumed after 2 weeks, but more vigorous exercises will have to wait for 4 weeks after the procedure.
Patients should keep in mind that Cellulaze results take time to be fully noticeable. Most patients see immediate improvement, but this is primarily due to early swelling. It takes several weeks for the skin tightening to occur, and there will be further improvements over the next 6 to 12 months. Improvements from Cellulaze typically last at least a year or longer.
As with any other cosmetic procedure, good maintenance is important. Eating a healthy diet and exercising daily will determine if the results last for a few months or for many years. People who receive the best results will want to maintain that result going forward.
Please note that Cellulaze is technically demanding so having it performed only by a well trained and experienced practitioner is an important factor in getting the best results.
Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team- AA
Based on an exclusive interview by Dr. Braden Stridde in Kirkland, WA