Laser treatment zaps cellulite

May 12, 2013 7:36:14 PM PDT
Cellulite is a frustrating problem for many women because diet and exercise often have little or no effect on it. But new technologies are offering options. These procedures work underneath the skin, employing lasers to both sever tissue and melt fat. All in an effort to smooth out the dimples and bumps associated with cellulite.

One patient who agreed to be interviewed by ABC7 News didn't want to reveal her identity because of the nature of the problem, even though it's so common. It will affect a majority of women in their lifetime.

"The cellulite that I have in my thighs and my buttocks, it's embarrassing to wear certain clothing because of it," she said.

Cellulite is characterized by the cottage cheese like dimpling in the skin. According to San Francisco cosmetic surgeon Dr. Larry Fan, the reason exercise and diet have little effect on it is because the cause is actually not just the fatty tissue itself.

"Underneath the skin the cellulite appears because the skin is actually being pulled down by tethering bands of connecting tissue, at the same time there are pockets of fat that bulge outward," says Dr. Fan.

The condition used to be considered untreatable. But at an outpatient treatment center in Millbrae, Dr. Larry Fan uses a laser system called CelluSmooth, just approved for treating cellulite.

He says the laser system works by incorporating varying levels of heat, delivered in different ways. The first employs a burst of energy to sever bands of tissue that are tethering the bumpy skin to the patients muscle layer. Once the tethers are broken, the laser is reset into a melting mode, delivering heat for longer durations.

"We're going to be melting some of the bulging pockets of fat. So we pass the laser underneath the skin, and it heats up and actually ablates, melts some of the fat," he explains.

In a third step, the laser is passed closer to the skin itself to agitate the collagen layer, and produce a tightening effect.

"And the most important thing is that the results are real and they last," says Dr. Fan.

And while she didn't want to reveal her identity, the patient undergoing the procedure told us she's hoping the improvement will allow her to wear clothes that show off more on her legs.

"I'm not looking for perfection," she says. "I'd just like to wear a nice pair of shorts that go above my knees as opposed to below my knees, or a nice dress that goes above my knee."

CelluSmooth is actually one of two technologies currently on the market. The other, known as Cellulaze, also employs a laser system underneath the skin.

Written and produced by Tim Didion


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