ASSESSING A NEW CELLULITE TREATMENT
By Dr. Robert T. Grant, MD, MSc, FACS
I recently reviewed an article that promised yet another effective treatment for cellulite. Cellulite is caused when the soft tissues of the thigh push out around the tethered vertical attachments of the deeper thigh tissues to the undersurface of the patient’s skin. Not just a problem for patients who are overweight, cellulite is an extremely common finding-but unfortunately one that has had no simple solution.
The technology in the report I reviewed applies two different laser wavelengths to the skin surface as the skin is being suctioned between two rollers. Sophisticated technologies were used to document the post-op appearance-namely 3-D photographs and MRI scans were done on all study subjects before and after to help document the changes seen. The laser treatments were designed to facilitate the redraping and remodeling of the thigh skin over the more uniform depth of the fatty tissue below it, yielding an improved appearance. The number of patients treated in the study was small-all of whom were happy a month after completing the series of treatments and many at the six months’ follow-up. The patients reported only minor discomfort with the treatments. These were self limited and thought to be associated with the heat of the laser light and the sensation of having the skin suctioned between the rollers. No long-term complications were seen.
Previous treatments like this had included infrared light treatments also with the use of the suction rollers-as well treatment with just the suction rollers themselves. These treatments also worked-but only short-term. Within weeks to months the waves and ripple sin the skin of the thigh area had returned. Other treatments have included use of topical medications rubbed or applied to the area. These too have limited long-term effects, if any at all.
So –what’s the bottom line? Is it time to think about subjecting one’s thighs to this device to help improve one’s own thigh appearance? Well-I think it’s too early to say. While promising this is an initial study that needs follow-up in larger numbers of patients, and for longer periods of time. It does show that progress is being made towards therapies that may truly have beneficial effects on cellulite.
To me cellulite has always been an example of how once certain aesthetic issues develop treatment may be ineffective or unsatisfactory. Can cellulite be prevented? Unfortunately the honest answer is no. But there is good news-like many problems in cosmetic surgery-lifestyle choices can certainly exacerbate the predisposition towards a certain kind of problem. So what can one do as part of one’s life stage personal enhancement to deal specifically with cellulite?
Excess sun exposure to the thigh region can accelerate the loss of elasticity and resiliency of the skin. As a result, remember it is never too early to wear sun-block-especially when heading out to the beach or park and exposing one’s thighs and buttocks to the harmful rays of the sun. Cyclical weight shifts-the gain or loss of significant amounts of weight, taxes the skin in the area and can further contribute to the chronicity of the problem.
Until truly effective treatments become available I think the best way to address cellulite makes use of an effective fitness program-one that deals specifically with the muscles in the front and back of the thighs, as well as the buttocks. Squats, lunges, and focused weight training can be very helpful-by improving the muscle tone in the area, reducing the amount of fat concentrated locally, and by improving the overall circulation to the skin and deeper tissues. I found it interesting to learn that these specific thigh and buttock muscle groups are often not built up in a balanced and effective fashion by aerobic exercise-so running, biking or roller-blading isn’t enough to make a difference. Sure these activities are great for overall health maintenance, weight control and cardiovascular fitness- but specific focused exercises will be necessary to get the cellulite treatment results you deserve.
So a trip to the plastic surgeon, or laser specialist shouldn’t be your first step in seeking ways to improve the appearance of cellulite. Ask at your Gym for a recommendation for a trainer who can get you started on the kind of work-outs that will make the most difference-and be even more effective in the long-term than a short-term surgical fix might be.
Life stage personal enhancement is all about making you look and feel your best given your past lifestyle choices, your current health and genetic background. The good news is it is never too late to start to make changes that will make you look and feel your best over time. For additional information on this or other topics in cosmetic surgery, or to read more about Dr. Grant’s philosophy regarding ‘age-maintenance’ visit www.robertgrantmd.com.