You may have heard that there’s a new option for fighting cellulite in town. Cellfina™ is a minimally invasive procedure that provides long-lasting improvement of cellulite—and patients are raving about their results.
We recently chatted with Dr. Parker about Cellfina, what makes it stand out from other cellulite procedures, and what patients can realistically expect from their treatment. Here’s what he had to say.
What causes cellulite? And why is it so difficult to treat?
Cellulite is caused by a shortening of fibrous bands, which are like little rubber bands that run from the skin down to the underlying muscles. We’re still unsure of what exactly triggers them to shorten, particularly because cellulite occurs in a wide range of body types, weights, ages, etc. It is likely something hormonally related because cellulite is very common in women—in fact, it’s estimated that around 85% of women have cellulite, whereas it’s very rare in men.
The reason it’s been difficult to treat previously is that there really hasn’t been a consistent methodology that’s yielded good results. Things have come and gone.
Traditionally, how has cellulite been treated? Was it effective?
In the past, cellulite has been treated in various ways, with inconsistent efficacy. Things like Endermologie, where you kind of rolled and vacuumed the skin, had mixed success; there is no long-term improvement because you have to keep doing it. Topical products rarely had a positive impact. Different kinds of laser treatments, including Cellulase, could be uncomfortable without the positive pay-off.
Then you had your surgical options, like subcision. This is essentially the same method as Cellfina, but it wasn’t as effective a technique in achieving long-term results or as comfortable for the patient.
What makes Cellfina different from other options for treating cellulite?
The advantage of Cellfina is that it has standardized and perfected previous subcision techniques. Cellfina tends to be much more uniform with a much higher success rate. Not only is the treatment very simple, it also results in a long-lasting outcome. A trial study was performed where patients were followed over two years and the satisfaction rate after those two years was at 95%. Cellfina is certainly the best long-term treatment for cellulite to date that is currently on the market.
Tell us a little about treatment with Cellfina and why it is so effective.
When we treat somebody with Cellfina, we have them stand up in front of a mirror, and we mark out the areas of cellulite dimples. Because we most often treat the buttuck and outer thighs, we then have them lie down prone and remark the areas just to ensure they haven’t shifted or moved when the patient was repositioned.
Next, we use a proprietary infusion system whereby we inject local anesthesia into those areas that are being treated. We place what looks like a Petri dish on the patient’s skin and press a button that creates some vacuum pressure to draw up that area of skin, which is right around 3 inches in diameter. When that skin is drawn up at a consistent pressure, all of the skin is being treated the same.
This creates somewhat of a guide, allowing us to uniformly infuse the area with local anesthesia. This is repeated in all the areas to be treated. Using the same “guide” I use for the anesthesia injections, I am able to release the bands by inserting a tiny, proprietary blade 6 millimeters below the skin. Cellfina is very precise in that it allows you to effectively release the band with little chance of recurrence and without doing any damage to the skin.
The precision of this tiny reciprocating blade leaves no scar. It tends to generate some swelling and a little bit of bruising, but it is all very manageable and short-lived. The procedure itself is pretty easy on the patient and the recovery is quick. And, probably most importantly, the results are very good.
Does Cellfina hurt?
With the combination of the grid of anesthesia and Cellfina’s very thin blade, most patients find treatment to be quite comfortable. The first anesthetic injections, before the “numbing” kicks in, are probably the most discomfort a patient will feel throughout the whole treatment. It’s typically a sting and burn sensation, which lessens as more anesthetic is administered.
From that point forward, patients just feel a bit of pressure. The patients are awake for the treatment, though we will occasionally give them something like a Valium or an oral pain medication just to take the edge off. Pain is something that’s variable from one person to the next, so we always “check in” with the patient, making sure they’re still comfortable or taking a break if we need to.
What do your patients find most surprising about their Cellfina treatment?
Probably its relative simplicity and ease—in addition to how successful and long-lasting it is. Typically, if we’re going to have a recurrence with anything in plastic surgery, it’s going to be within a few weeks, a few months. Two years is a great long-term result.
How many treatments are required? Do patients benefit from “maintenance” treatments over time?
When we evaluate a patient, we try to be comprehensive and just give them one treatment. So wherever they have identifiable areas of cellulite, we’ll treat that. With that in mind, most of our patients require only one treatment.
However, it’s important to note that not everyone who has wavy and dimply skin has cellulite. Sometimes, loose skin after weight fluctuation is mistaken for cellulite, which can impact the success of whatever treatment is administered. It’s important for the clinician to differentiate the true dimples of cellulite versus the laxity of skin.
What is recovery like?
Because the blade is so small and the treatment so precise, there are no stitches, only tiny pinholes which heal by themselves without scarring. Through that hole, it is normal to ooze some fluid over the first day or so. Other than that, life can typically resume as normal. Patients can walk around, shower the next day. A little soreness for a day or two is normal, but most patients report that it is very mild.
We often tell our patients to try and schedule the procedure on a Friday and plan to return to work the following Monday, which allows for a few days to recoup.