Learn more about the treatment options available for cellulite.
Cellulite is the appearance of dimpling and textural irregularities, which occurs on the buttocks, thighs and occasionally abdomen of women. Infrequently men will develop cellulite. Cellulite can occur in patients who are under, at or above their goal weight and affects all races and ethnicities. It is estimated that over 85% of women over the age of 21 are afflicted with cellulite. Predisposing factors include increased fatty tissue, increased age, female gender, heredity, and race. These predisposing factors are not possible to change and so there is no prevention of the formation of cellulite.
Many factors contribute to the development of cellulite including disrupted lymphatic drainage and circulation, long term inflammation, thinning of the epidermis, increased fatty tissue, and estrogen. Skin affected by cellulite also has thick, collagen bands oriented vertical to the skin called septae. These bands pull down on the skin surface to produce the appearance similar to quilted stitching on a mattress or an orange peel.
Why treat cellulite?
Cellulite is uncontrollable, non-preventable, and can cause embarrassment and decreased self-esteem in some patients.
What you need to know
A variety of noninvasive devices are available by a number of manufacturers to improve the appearance of cellulite. These device typically contain one or more of the following:
- Massage and/or vacuum suction - to improve lymphatic drainage and stretch the skin tissue
- Radiofrequency energy – to increase collagen tissue, thicken and tighten the skin, and decrease fatty tissue
- Laser energy – to improve blood flow, increase collagen tissue, thicken and tighten the skin, and decrease fatty tissue
The number of treatments needed for noninvasive devices varies based on the device, energy source, location, and individual patient needs. The majority of these treatments offer only temporary improvement of cellulite, typically lasting months. Full resolution of cellulite is rare. Repeat sessions are necessary to continue to maintain the results with these non-invasive devices.
In the past few years, two minimally invasive surgical devices have become available to treat cellulite. One device uses a uses a vacuum-assisted device to allow for precise surgical release of the cellulite septae with results lasting up to 2 years. The other device uses a laser fiber placed under the skin to disrupt the cellulite septae, thicken the skin, and melt the fat of cellulite.
Questions to ask a dermatologic surgeon before beginning any cellulite treatment
- Which cellulite procedure is the correct one for me? (What are the options?)
- What is the estimated cost of the procedure?
- How long is one appointment?
- How often will I need to receive treatment to improve my cellulite?
- How far apart are the treatments?
- What are the common side effects or complications associated with the procedure?
- How can I prepare for the treatments/procedure?
- Does the treatment hurt?
- How long is the recovery time associated with my procedure?
- Do you have before-and-after patient images to help to prepare me for what to expect?
- Will someone walk me through the process before going in for treatment?
- What are the risks?
- What should I expect after the procedure is performed? (i.e. short-term and long-term effects; activity restrictions; expected recovery period)
General questions to ask before cellulite treatment
- Is a doctor on site?
- Is the doctor board-certified in dermatology or in another specialty with equivalent training and experience in treating cellulite?
- Was my medical history taken?
- Was I given an initial evaluation to determine if the technique or procedure is appropriate for my skin type?
- Did the doctor show me before-and-after photos?