Cellulite: What really works?

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Summer can be an especially difficult time for people challenged with the issue of cellulite which might otherwise be covered up in colder seasons. Little is known about what causes cellulite, but it involves fibrous connective bands that tether the skin to the underlying muscle. The fat cells between these two layers push up against the skin, while the long, tough bands pull down, creating an uneven surface or dimpling, orange-skin appearance. The problem is made worse with aging as the skin loses its youthful tautness and elasticity and the dimpled appearance becomes even more pronounced. It affects women more than men and can affect thin as well as heavier individuals. 

Some of the current available treatments for cellulite include: 

Cellfina®, a minimally invasive procedure cleared by the FDA for treating cellulite on the thighs and buttocks. A surgeon inserts a tiny blade under the skin to cut the fibrous bands that trap the fat and create dimpled appearance of cellulite. This treatment does not address skin laxity that contributes to the appearance of cellulite. Downtime consists of some soreness along with swelling and bruising. Results can be seen immediately with guaranteed results for a year. Average cost: $3,925 depending on size of area treated.

Endermologie is a deep-tissue massage device that breaks up and releases pockets of fat from the connective tissue. It was the first FDA-approved cellulite treatment and requires 8–10 sessions for best results. May work better in conjunction with other fat-reduction treatments by giving the skin a smoother appearance and results are temporary. Average cost: $60-100 per session. 

BodyTite is a minimally invasive procedure that is often done with liposuction. After anesthesia has taken effect, the surgeon makes a small skin incision in the treatment area through which a probe is introduced. Another probe glides above the skin, sandwiching the skin between the two probes. RF energy is passed between the two probes which helps to tighten the skin. Downtime consists of some pain, swelling and bruising. Results last up to a year. Average cost: $6,650 depending on size of area treated.

Cellulaze® is a minimally invasive FDA-approved cellulite treatment that uses a small laser under the skin to tighten the skin and cut the fibrous bands. Downtime consists of soreness, swelling and bruising. Results can last upward of a year. Average cost: $5,800 depending on size of area treated.

Acoustic wave therapy such as the Z-Wave® uses shockwaves over the skin of the affected areas to tighten skin and loosen the fibrous bands that cause skin dimpling. There is no downtime but about 12 treatments over the course of 6 weeks are needed to be effective. 

EMTONE™ is an FDA-cleared non-invasive treatment designed to treat all aspects that contribute to the appearance of cellulite and can be used anywhere on the body where cellulite is a problem. It uses RF energy which tightens the skin combined with acoustic wave therapy which stimulates the skin, boosting circulation and discouraging the collection of fluid that contributes to the bumpy appearance of cellulite. The acoustic waves also loosen the fibrous bands that contribute to the dimpled appearance. 4-6 painless treatments are needed per treatment area. It takes time for the body to remodel so results can take 3 months to be fully apparent and touch up treatments are needed in 6-12 months. Average cost: $250-750 per session depending on the size of area treated. 

EMTONE™ is the newest addition to the body by BTL EMpire® which also include EMSCULPT® for muscle gain and permanent fat reduction as well as EMSELLA® for urinary incontinence and enhancement of sexual function.