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Cellulite Treatments That Work

Is There a "Cure" For Cellulite?

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Updated June 09, 2014

Liposuction
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Treatment Options for Cellulite

It is estimated that cellulite affects 85% to 98% of all post-pubescent females. Still, most people do not fully understand what cellulite really is. Because of this, too many women fall prey to the latest marketing wizard’s promises of a quick, easy solution.

If you’ve done everything you can with diet and exercise, and that orange-peel look is still making you miserable, there are a myriad of options out there which claim to improve cellulite. Unfortunately, the truth is that many of the so-called cellulite solutions reduce nothing but the size of your wallet.

What May Help:

Smart Lipo (Laser Lipolysis) – Traditional liposuction reduces localized fat deposits, which one might assume could reduce the appearance of cellulite. In reality, traditional liposuction can actually make cellulite appear worse by creating more skin depressions and further damaging connective tissue. However, proponents of the laser-assisted Smart Lipo claim that the use of the laser helps tighten the skin, improving the appearance of cellulite. Be aware, though, that since Smart Lipo is relatively new, there are no long term studies on it safety or effectiveness.

Acoustic Wave Therapy – Acoustic pressure waves are applied externally with the goal of breaking up the offending connective tissue that is responsible for skin dimpling. This is similar technology to the extracorporeal shock wave therapy which is sometimes used to treat kidney stones and other ailments, such as foot pain caused by heel spurs and plantar fascitis. The procedure is still relatively new, so no long-term data is available, but results so far look promising.

Cellulite Subcision Surgery – A v-shaped cutting tool is moved beneath the skin to cut the bands of connective tissue which are pulling downward, creating dimples. This is the only available cellulite procedure to date which has shown some positive long-term results. However, it is also one of the most invasive options, is not widely available, has a limited amount of clinical research supporting its use, and does not work well for everyone or in all body areas. The technical name for this type of procedure is subcision, and the technique has been used for some time for the treatment of certain types of acne scars. Used together with fat grafting, it is currently marketed under the brand name Rejuveskin.

Lower Body Lift (Belt Lipectomy) – Excess skin is removed, and the remaining skin is lifted and secured in a new position to lift, tighten, and smooth the skin of the abdomen, buttocks, and thighs. While this does not get rid of cellulite, the smoothing of the skin does reduce its appearance significantly. Body lift surgery is the most invasive of the surgical options listed here, and carries the most risk, along with significant scarring.

Fat Grafting (Autologous Fat Transfer/Fat Injections) – Who would have thought that fat could be a weapon in the fight against cellulite? Oh, the irony. With fat grafting, the patient’s own fat is first harvested via liposuction, and then injected into the depressed areas to smooth out the look of the skin. This can be at least somewhat effective. However, the results obtained from fat injections are often not permanent, as the fat cells can die and be re-absorbed by the body.

The success and longevity of fat grafts is highly dependent on the surgeon’s skill and experience, so make sure you ask the surgeon how many fat grafting procedures he or she has done. Some surgeons will offer free “touch ups” of fat injections, while others say that when done correctly, fat grafts provide permanent results, with no touch up required.

Temporary Fixes:

Endermologie – This treatment employs a mechanical suction-and-roller-assisted massage device that claims to massage away water retention, break up stubborn fat deposits, and stretch the contracted bands of connective tissue which cause skin dimpling. In addition, the deep massage produced by Endermologie is believed to stimulate the fibroblasts to produce more collagen, resulting in a thickening and strengthening of both the dermis and epidermis. According to LPG (the developers and patent-holders of the Endermologie system), many patients do claim to see some positive short term results from Endermologie (especially when done in conjunction with a proper diet and exercise program), the treatments must be continued indefinitely to maintain any improvement.

Velasmooth – Velasmooth treatments are performed using a device that incorporates Endermologie-style roller massage and suction along with the added technologies of infrared light and radiofrequency energy.

The Velasmooth website claims that a series of treatments can give you tighter, smoother skin (with less visible cellulite), plus body contouring (inch loss), improved circulation, and relief of muscular aches and pains. While there have been a few small studies showing modestly positive results for a majority of study participants, the jury is still out on the long-term effectiveness of this treatment.

The Unproven

Sadly, many companies are all too eager to take your money for the promise of smooth thighs. Unfortunately, most of these so-called cellulite solutions simply offer no proof that they work. Read more about questionable cellulite treatments.

Sources:

A Study Evaluating the Safety and Efficacy of the Velasmooth System In The Treatment Of Cellulite; Neil Sadick, Cynthia Magro, Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy. 2007; Volume 9, pp. 15–20

Cellulite: A Review of its Physiology and Treatment; Mathew M. Avram; Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, Volume 6, Issue 4 December 2004

Cellulite: An Update; Press Release, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, August 2003

Endermologie Operator Training Manual, LPG Corporation, 1996

Interview with board certified Baltimore-based plastic surgeon, Ricardo Rodriguez, MD; conducted on March 24, 2009.

Interview with Stephen X.Giunta, MD, plastic surgeon, Aesthetic Plastic Surgery International, Alexandria, VA; conducted on April 14, 2009

Subcision: A Treatment for Cellulite; Hexsel D.M., Mazzuco R.; International Journal of Dermatology, 2000, Volume 39, pp. 539-544

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