Cellulite Treatment

What you should know

What Are Cellulite Treatments

Through the use of radio-frequency energy, infrared heat and light, your dermatologist or plastic surgeon can reduce the appearance of unwanted cellulite. These treatments work in two primary ways:

  • They penetrate deep within the skin to break up fat
  • They stimulate collagen and elastin production to tighten up the skin.

A combination of laser, vacuum, massage and/or radio frequency devices can help reduce cellulite. Some brand names this type of cellulite treatment goes by are:

  • Endermologie
  • SmoothShapes
  • VelaShape
  • VelaSmooth

Anti-cellulite treatments have been around for a while and the newest one is Bella Contour. “It’s a really exciting treatment that’s just coming to the States,” says New York City, New Jersey and Boca Raton, FL, dermatologist David Goldberg, MD. “Unlike other body contouring treatments, this one changes the salt content of the fat cells so that the fat is leached out,” Dr. David Goldberg says.

Using a triple-threat of ultrasound, vacuum and electrical currents, the painless and downtime-free treatment (prepare to dedicate two hours to the initial treatment and one hour for each one thereafter) targets cellulite and stubborn fatty areas on the stomach, thighs, lower butt, knees and flanks, by revving up your metabolism so fat is burned more efficiently.

“Because there’s an immediate reduction in volume—about one to two inches after the first session—Bella Contour should not be used on areas like the breast and upper buttocks because it will cause a flattening effect—the exact opposite of what most women want,” adds Dr. David Goldberg.

Anti-cellulite treatments are said not to be painful—they purportedly feel like a deep-tissue massage but with more heat. Ideal areas for treatment are the thighs and buttocks. Each machine (depending on what brand your doctor offers) is a bit different and the number of treatments varies.  Most people require four to 10 sessions but sometimes more. There is no downtime with these types of treatments.

Suction Massage Treatment

This FDA-approved noninvasive technique, which was developed in France more than a decade ago, uses physical stimulation to increase circulation, which temporarily helps decrease cellulite. A single session takes 30 to 60 minutes—and, you can return to work immediately. Although some women see results with these treatments, others do not, and it’s important to know beforehand that there is no long-term cure for cellulite, and all of these treatments require follow-up sessions after the initial series is complete in order to maintain results.


Light and Laser Energy with Suction Massage

SmoothShapes employs photomology technology to stimulate natural metabolic processes that can decrease underlying causes of cellulite, like edema or poor blood circulation.

Safe for all skin types, the virtually pain-free procedure (which feels like a deep-tissue massage with some skin warming) uses laser and light energy with contoured rollers and vacuum suction to target problem areas and restore enlarged fat cells to their original size.

During the treatment—eight sessions are needed—collagen production is stimulated to smooth and tighten the skin. Photomology also stimulates natural metabolic processes to decrease underlying causes of cellulite, like edema and poor blood circulation.

“With SmoothShapes, there is mild to moderate improvement in the appearance of fat, and mild improvement in cellulite. The treatment works well for treating cellulite on the abdomen, arms and thighs. “Although we’re still figuring out what grade of cellulite will best benefit from this treatment, I think it works well on most cellulite except for the really dappled, cottage cheese–like type, which is typically found on the thighs,” says West Palm Beach, FL, dermatologist Kenneth Beer, MD.

Radio Frequency and Suction Massage

Both VelaShape and VelaSmooth target areas plagued by cellulite like the stomach, love handles and arms.  “A series of treatments noticeably improves the appearance of cellulite and gives the look of firmer, tighter skin in the treated areas,” says Washington, DC, dermatologist Tina Alster, MD.

Who they are for

Anti-cellulite treatments are said to be most effective on minimal to moderate cellulite.

Who they are not for

Those who are not experiencing cellulite.

What to Expect With Cellulite Treatments

Anti-cellulite treatments may help to diminish the appearance of cellulite, but they will not get rid of it permanently.

In order to optimize the results of the treatment, it’s suggested to follow a healthy diet and to drink plenty of water. The pain- and downtime-free treatments require follow-up treatments to maintain results. 

Despite the energy source used, almost all anti-cellulite lasers work to temporarily smooth out dimpled skin by sending energy to the tissue to break up the composition of fat cells. Some doctors choose to use cellulite-fighting lasers after liposuction to smooth out dimples and lumps. Even though you may see improvement, it’s important to understand that the results are not permanent—you will need touch-up sessions each year to keep cellulite at bay.

Post-Treatment Care: Cellulite Treatments

Factors like weight gain, hormones and falling back into bad dietary habits can all cause cellulite to return. The best way to prevent your cellulite from returning is to maintain a stable, healthy weight, eat right and exercise regularly.

Inside Tips

  • Any oral pill that increases the amount of estrogen in the body or causes the body to retain excess water, including birth control, diet and even sleeping pills, can possibly lead to cellulite.
  • Women are more prone to cellulite than men because of the shape of female fat cells. Male fat cells are not smooth and live deep within the skin. In women, the fat cells are closer to the surface and smooth in shape. Because the fat cells in men stay deep within the skin, it’s harder for them to make their way to the surface, which is why most men never experience cellulite.
  • Treating your cellulite in the early stages is the best plan of attack if you want to diminish its appearance. Since cellulite affects everyone differently, there is no set amount of time that it takes for it to progress and worsen. Some women notice exacerbated cellulite in a matter of months or a year, while in others, it can take years for cellulite to worsen. 
  • Although many don’t realize it, there is a connection between cellulite and your hormones. Some experts believe that the female hormone estrogen tends to aggravate and worsen cellulite since estrogen naturally encourages the body to build up and store fat, especially in hard-to-firm areas like the stomach, thighs, hips and butt. “Although a definitive hormonal cause has not been established, about 85 to 90 percent of women have some cellulite whereas men with normal hormones do not have it,” says Lincolnshire, IL, dermatologist Amy Forman Taub, MD. During pregnancy, hormone levels rise and cellulite can worsen as a result. But once the body returns to normal, most times, so does cellulite.