A new laser device cleared by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year is being hailed by some doctors for its ability to rid women of cellulite, and it’s getting a lot of attention on TV news and daytime shows.
Cellulaze is described as banishing cellulite — those dimply pockets of skin that an estimated 90% of women acquire — by melting the bulging fat, cutting the fibrous bands that hold it in place and triggering collagen production.
RealSelf.com, a plastic surgery consumer website, places the average cost for Cellulaze, which is touted as requiring just one treatment, at $5,810.
How well does it work?
So far, some women who have tried it seem happy, though not all outcomes were positive. Many doctors are taking a wait-and-see approach.
Several women who had the procedure and were satisfied shared their experiences on RealSelf. A couple of examples:.
- “I am 4 weeks post Cellulaze procedure and the results are amazing! I am still improving each day … This has been the best money I could have spent to improve a part of my body that has been an issue for a majority of my life.”
- “Other than the injections for the Lidocaine, there was no pain for me. the post procedure soreness is expected, but it is not ‘painful.’ I swear it is like heavy post-exercise muscle soreness.”
The new York Times quoted a patient who underwent Cellulaze as part of research conducted before the device was approved. She described herself as “gleeful” over the outcome, saying 3 years later, her skin is ”as smooth as it was after the procedure.”
But there can be complications.
The Times piece includes a woman who was part of another study where more laser energy was used. One of her legs retained a lot of fluid and had to be drained every 2 weeks for months. The story also said some indentations appearing on her leg looked like “holes had been carved out by a potato peeler.” she told the reporter, ”If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t get it done.”
The Times says the doctor who conducted the research ”now recommends that patients with severe cellulite and loose skin like her shouldn’t be treated with Cellulaze alone, if at all.”
Photos courtesy of RealSelf.com show results after 6 months, left, and after 1.5 years.
Dr. John Di Saia, a plastic surgeon in San Clemente and Orange, writes in his blog that Cellulaze received its FDA approval through the agency’s 510K pathway, used for devices that are similar to already approved technology. “that means the device is so similar to something else already on the market that it does not need more formal FDA approval,” he says. “in essence it is a short cut.
“People need to know when product literature proclaims FDA approval that it does not mean it works,” he says. “it generally means that it is at least as safe as other technology on the market.”
Dr. Eugene Elliott, cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, said in an interview with the Register that he’s seen a variety of treatments aimed at getting rid of cellulite over the years, but “unfortunately, there is no clinically-proven treatment that exists today that is worth spending your hard-earned money on.”
“As a practicing plastic surgeon I do have an open mind, and I would welcome a treatment that was both cost-effective and therapeutic. Cellulaze may be that long awaited therapy, but I would give it a good six to twelve months with evidence-based trials to assess whether it will be an effective modality. although the first plastic surgeon on the block that offers the ‘latest and greatest’ treatment for cellulite may fill his or her waiting room with eager patients, an absence of measurable clinical response could lead to many frowns and another laser gathering dust in a closet. Time will tell and evidence-based outcomes should determine longevity of any new technology.”
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