As a hard-core softball player, Marvia Lainez gets plenty of exercise, but she says none of it helps the problem that bothers her the most.
"It's the cellulite; I don't like the appearance," she said. "I haven't been able to wear shorts in a very long time."
So Lainez is going to undergo a procedure with a device just cleared for use in treating cellulite. First, San Francisco plastic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Deweese takes 3-D images of the area. Then he marks his target points for a laser called Cellulaze.
Deweese says it's designed to both melt fat and also sever the fibers that pull the skin down around it, causing the dimples and bulges associated with cellulite. He says earlier devices could remove the fat, but not the unevenness.
"Well actually standard lipo and ultrasonic lipo can make a cellulite appear worse," Deweese said.
The treatment takes several hours. A cannula is used to move the laser under the skin. A light shines through to guide the surgeon.
"I have the laser oriented so it's firing right into the ridge of fat and knocking it down," Deweese said as he described the procedure. "The light energy is converted to heat and in the area whatever absorbs the heat is vaporized."
Deweese says it takes several months to see the full results as new collagen grows in. But at the halfway point, Lainez's right leg is showing signs of smoothing.
Lainez says smoothing the bumps would change the way she feels about her body.
"A great outcome for me would be to comfortable in my own skin, to be able to wear what I want to wear and not feel so self-conscious about myself," she said,
The Cellulaze treatment costs as much as $5,000, depending on the size of the area treated. It's typically not covered by insurance. Recovery time averages about a week.
Written and produced by Tim Didion