2 new procedures are FDA-approved to ease cellulite dimples.
Cellulite isn’t that noticeable—when our clothes are on. But about 90% of women and 10% of men will become familiar with the dimply, rippled appearance of fat under our skin as we age on our legs, buttocks, stomachs, and even arms. As an aesthetic surgeon, I hear patients complain about cellulite, but there has been relatively little to do for them—until now. In the past, creams that claim to treat cellulite can only use mild alpha hydroxy or glycolic acids to smooth the skin’s surface or caffeine to try and boost circulation, but they really can’t tackle the actual cellulite itself. And external lasers don’t help cellulite at all. There are lasers that work under the skin to melt fat pockets, but prolonged bruising and swelling can occur post-procedure.
There are 2 new FDA-approved procedures that can help treat cellulite to make a real difference, not just in what we see, but in the actual structure beneath our skin that creates the mottled appearance. To understand how they work, it’s important to know that cellulite has 3 aspects to it: The biggest component of cellulite is the fibrous bands that tether the skin down. Fat fills the pockets in between the fibrous bands. Finally, our skin becomes thinner as we get older. Together, these elements create the tufted mattress effect that most of us are familiar with as cellulite.
Cellfina: Clearing the Underlying Causes of Cellulite
I’m most excited about Cellfina, a novel, minimally invasive procedure that actually cuts the fibrous bands that pull the skin down and create cellulite dimples. With Cellfina, a palm-sized device isolates and suctions the area of the skin with cellulite dimples, where a small needle introduces anesthesia (lidocaine). Then, through the same needle hole, a micro-blade the size of a needle, releases the fibrous band that attaches the skin to the muscle fascia below, smoothening the dimple. I can treat 10-15 dimples at a time and there is basically no downtime, just a little bruising and swelling. The results are visible fairly quickly (in a few days) as the bruising resolves and full results are visible after about six months.
The best candidate for Cellfina has what I call “dimply cellulite,” not lots of long wavy lines or a “banana roll” under the buttocks. Cellfina is FDA-approved for the reduction of cellulite in the buttocks and thighs and will be available nationally in doctors’ offices only at the end of the first quarter this year.
BodyFX: A 3 Prong Attack on Cellulite
Body FX the second FDA-approved procedure, works differently and targets all 3 aspects of cellulite. It’s a completely non-invasive medispa treatment that combines suction with radio frequency heat. The suction stretches the fibrous bands (instead of cutting them as Cellfina does) and improves lymphatic drainage (trapped lymph fluid can make fat cells puffier). You may remember endermologie, the treatment that used suction (and a body stocking!) to do the same. Body FX’s bipolar radiofrequency heat helps to both shrink fat cells and make skin thicker, thus treating the underlying causes of cellulite and helping smoothen the appearance of the skin. I like the combination of suction and heat in a single treatment because it targets the various aspects of cellulite. Body FX delivers a 3-prong attack on cellulite by impacting the fibrous band, fat, and skin components of cellulite all at once.
Body FX is available now, and I will be treating patients with it in our SkinLabRx medispa and expect to continue to see great results with it. A patient can do 6-8 consecutive treatments two weeks apart with each one costing around $500, depending on where you go. A series of 6-8 treatments is recommended. Cellfina starts around $4000 depending on the extent of the treatment.
Overall, I’m excited to share these treatments now so that we can see results by summer. They are also great complementary treatments for cellulite.