New procedure helps smooth out cellulite

A new technology is promising to tackle a cosmetic problem that diet and exercise don't always solve cellulite.

September 21, 2010 7:22:25 PM PDT
A new technology is promising to tackle a cosmetic problem that diet and exercise don't always solve -- cellulite. Those are the wavy bumps that lie just underneath the skin.

"I do have cellulite. It didn't matter what I wore, if the fabric was thin you could see the ripples on the side," Lizette Valencia said.

But San Francisco plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Kulick is going to attempt to smooth some of those bumps not with surgery or liposuction, but an emerging laser technology.

He says it works by distributing heat to different layers of a patients' skin tissue.

"There are actually two wavelengths. The first wavelength softens the fat, the second opens the pores to allow the fat to leak out and be absorbed by the lymphatic system," Kulick said.

Once Kulick begins moving the laser across Lizette's thighs, it will raise the temperature of her skin by about 5 degrees. As the fat cells are liquefied, a vacuum and roller system built into the housing manipulates the tissue.

The company says that helps the dead cells move into the lymphatic system and the process can produce some discomfort.

While the bumps may look like large mounds of cottage cheese to Lizette, documenting improvement from the treatments is a matter of microscopic measurement.

Kulick documented results from 20 patients, scanning the treated areas using a three-dimensional camera system to compare the minute contours.

In a paper published in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, he reported that three quarters of the patients showed measurable improvement lasting over a six-month period.

But he cautions the device known as 'smooth-shapes,' does not produce the slimming reductions of technologies such as liposuction.

"It's not an inches device, it's a cellulite smoothing device. So unlike liposuction, it's not designed to improve contour or in terms of volume. Having said that, patients had changes up to a sonometer or a sonometer and half in," Kulick said.

Lizette says her husband noticed the change after a few sessions.

"He said if felt smoother, it didn't feel like the rippling effect on the side," she said.

The treatment involves eight sessions stretched out over two months. Kulick says the cost ranges from $200 to $1,200 depending on the size of the area being treated.


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