A New Treatment for Cellulite

Cellulaze is a new FDA-approved laser treatment for cellulite. Find out if it really is the solution for smoother skin.

Anyone who has cellulite knows what it looks like and that it’s nearly impossible to get rid of on your own. No matter how thin a woman is, how much she exercises and diets, or how many so-called anti-cellulite creams she uses, cellulite is a stubborn foe. In fact, it is estimated that 85 percent of women over the age of 20 have some degree of cellulite – pockets of fat deposited just beneath the surface of the skin, around the hips, thighs, and buttocks, which look like “orange peel” or “cottage cheese” under the skin. No wonder anti-cellulite treatments are estimated to be a multi-billion-dollar industry.

There may finally be a solution for the treatment of cellulite, the new Food and Drug Administration-approved Cellulaze laser from Cynosure. It received approval for the treatment of cellulite in January 2012. In trials, it reduced cellulite in one treatment for up to two years.

How Cellulaze Works

“This is the first anatomically-based treatment that targets the three components of cellulite: the parallel arrangement of the fibrous septae bands under the skin, fatty deposits that expand those bands and lax skin,” says Gordon H. Sasaki, MD, FACS, in Pasadena, California, who was one of five clinical trial participants in the United States involved in the testing of Cellulaze.

With Cellulaze, a tiny laser fiber is inserted under the skin and heated to 45-47 degrees Celsius. This moves the fat, releasing the septae bands that dimple the skin and simultaneously stimulates collagen production, says Dr. Sasaki. If that’s hard to understand, try picturing how a button holds down the fluff on a pillow; if you cut the threads attached to the button, the pillow will be fluffed more evenly.

One of the main differences between Cellulaze and other lasers is that Cellulaze uses a SideLight3D side-firing fiber that delivers approximately half its laser energy perpendicular and half of it parallel, explains Sasaki. It’s through this process that the septae band, one of the causes of cellulite, is destroyed.

Because the laser’s energy also increases the production of collagen, the skin thickness by 25 percent and skin elasticity improves 29 percent in one year, found the Cellulaze study. “This is valuable because healthier, more even skin also helps reduce the appearance of cellulite,” says Sasaki.

Who Is Cellulaze Right for?

Women who are a healthy weight with a body mass index under 30 and who have firm skin are the best candidates, says Sasaki. Cellulaze is most effective on those with mild-to-moderate dimpling and raised bulging. “Those with severe cellulite that rolls and those with excessive skin laxity may not see strong results,” he cautions.

Men may also undergo Cellulaze, though Sasaki has not yet preformed the treatment on men, as women are far more likely to have cellulite than men.

What Happens During Cellulaze?

Prior to starting the treatment, your surgeon will mark your cellulite in a 5 cm square while you are standing. “The horizontally raised and depressed irregularities are marked to precisely locate them during treatment,” Sasaki says. The treatment is done while the patient is lying down, so it’s imperative the treatment areas are marked while she is standing and they are more visible.

The surgeon will make a small 1 cm incision at the bottom of the treatment area, usually underneath one of the buttocks, and a patient is treated with a tumescent anesthesia fluid, he says. (Only one incision is needed, even if both sides of the buttocks are being treated.) General anesthesia is not typically used during Cellulaze. After 20 to 30 minutes and the anesthesia has had time to take effect, the tiny side-firing fiber, enclosed in its temperature-sensitive cannula, is inserted through the incision.

The surgeon then points the laser beam downward in bulging areas. “The cannula reciprocates back and forth in a fanlike motion to melt and deplane the fatty bulge,” says Sasaki. In the second step, the laser is turned sideways to transect the septae that are pulling down the skin, causing dimpling. “The reciprocating movement of the laser-cannula in a fan-like pattern is stopped when there is no resistance and the dimple is corrected,” says Sasaki. As a final step, the surgeon turns the laser upward to “heat the dermis to remodel collagen fibers for eventual tightening and smoothing.” Since liposuction is not done, the liquefied fat and debris are removed the incision site by gentle squeezing. Sasaki will insert a drain for easier removal of the fluids. He removes the drain the next day at a follow-up visit.

After Cellulaze

After the Cellulaze cellulite treatment, patients can expect to be bruised and swollen and will be required to wear a compression garment for up to six weeks. A patient will start seeing results at about two weeks and will continue to see improvement for up to six months as the collagen starts to rebuild.

Sasaki, who has done the procedure approximately 45 times, reports that all his patients are extremely satisfied with the results after one treatment. “For the majority of patients in our two-year follow up, the results can last up to two years without repeating the procedure.” He continues to follow his patients and expects that the results will continue to last. As long as the patients follow a healthy lifestyle and without significant weight gain.


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