The very first thing to know about cellulite is that it is totally normal, and women (and some men) of all sizes and shapes have it. Cellulite is a very common, harmless skin condition that causes lumpy, dimpled flesh on the thighs, hips, buttocks and abdomen. The condition is most prevalent in women.
Cellulite isn’t fat, so let’s just set aside that myth right now. Cellulite refers to the puckered appearance of skin when fatty tissue pushes through the fibrous bands, called septae, that connect skin to muscle. These bands pull down and tether the skin, and that’s what leads to the dimpled appearance of cellulite.
How cellulite develops is not clear, although several factors—sex, genetics, and lifestyle—are believed to be involved. We have fat in our thighs that’s stored in little columns, like an old mattress. As our body ages, the fat kind of puckers out a little bit and the skin thins, so you see more of this cottage-cheese rippling effect.
Cellulite is an issue for nearly every woman. Consequently, a large range of treatment approaches are offered and promised to be effective by the beauty industry. As a matter of fact, cellulite cannot be conjured away, continuous treatment will effectively help to reduce cellulite, though.
Acoustic Wave Therapy
Acoustic waves (also called sound, pressure or shock waves) have been shown to stimulate metabolic processes and improve connective tissue elasticity for cosmetic use in the treatment of cellulite, fat reduction and body contouring. Acoustic energy is delivered to the targeted area, which then creates heat and stimulates the breakdown of fat (which is metabolised by the body), lymphatic drainage and the formation of new collagen for improved skin tone and firmness. There is no real downtime associated with this treatment. Two sessions per week are recommended with up to ten sessions advised for the best results. Expect to pay around £600 for a course of ten treatment sessions.
Acoustic Wave Therapy stimulates the breakdown of fat cells (a process known as lipolysis), the production of new collagen and lymphatic drainage. An applicator tip (or a probe) is passed over the treatment areas and acoustic waves are emitted through the skin at various intensities including radial or radiated waves or focused, high energy waves. Different applicators are used depending on the type of acoustic energy being delivered.
This generates a build-up of heat energy in the fat cells and collagen strands, which are effectively destroyed by the heat. The body’s own healing process then begins, which means that the fatty acids and fat cells are naturally passed out through the lymphatic system and excreted by the body. As collagen strands are damaged, they begin to rebuild and skin becomes smoother and tighter in the treated area.
What happens during Acoustic Wave Therapy?
Careful discussions regarding your reasons for wanting treatment for your cellulite or body shaping are very important before you begin the treatment. You must also make sure that this treatment can deliver what you want and how you would like to look afterwards. Your practitioner should be able to answer all these questions.
A medical history should also be taken to make sure that there are no reasons why you shouldn’t undertake treatment. You may be asked to sign a consent form which means that you have understood the potential benefits and risks associated with the procedure. Photographs may also be taken by the practitioner for a “before and after” comparison at a later date.
Your skin will be lightly cleansed by the practitioner before commencing acoustic wave therapy. The probe or applicator head will then be passed over the surface of the skin.
Treatment is described as feeling like a vigorous massage and will take between 30 minutes to 1 hour, dependent upon the area being treated. Two sessions per week are recommended with up to ten sessions advised for the best results. Results are usually visible within 2-3 weeks (after 3 – 4 treatments) with further results occurring up to three months following treatment.
Risks and potential complications
The side effects of acoustic wave therapy are minimal, although you may feel some discomfort in the 24-48 hours following treatment. It has been described as feeling like a vigorous massage and so you could experience some tenderness in the treated area which may require you to take over-the-counter painkillers if it is particularly severe. Mild bruising is also possible.
What should you do after an AWT treatment?
There are a number of things you are advised to do to improve the results of the therapy and to ensure that the waste products – the fat cells – are properly eliminated, including:
- Drinking at least 2-3 litres of water or green tea per day
- Following a low fat, healthy diet
- Completing 30 minutes of exercise per day, (not high impact, but something active, like a short walk)
Following these guidelines should ensure that the treatment is most effective.
Endermologie is a treatment for cellulite. It breaks up and disperses pockets of fat and softens the fibrotic tissue that causes cellulite.
You will meet with your practitioner who will assess your cellulite and take your medical history. You should not have this procedure if
- You have cancer
- You are pregnant
- You have an infection or skin rash
- You have a blood disease
- You have herpes
- You are on blood thinning medication
Before the procedure starts, you will need to change into a body forming suit that will allow the handheld endermologie device to glide over your body.
You will lie face down on a treatment table and the endermologie device will be guided up and down your body by your practitioner. The hand piece uses a sucking and rolling motion to draw up the skin and rolls it. Once your practitioner has treated your whole body, they will then focus on your problem areas. The treatment is painless and relaxing.
You may experience some redness or slight bruising after the treatment and can resume normal activities. It is recommended for a few days post treatment to drink at least 2/3 litres of water to help flush out the lymphatic system.
A single treatment can last between 30-50 minutes.
Results are only noticeable after a few sessions. It is recommended to have a minimum of 2 sessions a week for a month with monthly top ups. There are varying degrees of cellulite so some people may need more sessions then others.
Lots of clinics will offer a course of around 10 treatments for £400/£600
Carboxytherapy is a treatment for cellulite, dark circles under the eyes and stretch marks.
It can be applied to the eyelids, arms, face, stomach, legs, buttocks, and neck.
Have a consultation with your practitioner to discuss your problem areas. You should be in good health, not pregnant or breast feeding to have this treatment. Drink 2/3 litres of water for a few days leading up to the treatment
Your practitioner will use a handheld device about the size of a pen that is linked to a tank. Using the handheld device that has a regulator, your practitioner is able to control how much gas flows from the tank. They will use this device to inject carbon dioxide under the skin. The carbon dioxide will expand the skin making your body think there is an oxygen deficiency in that area. This will trigger the body’s natural repair and regenerate response by increasing blood flow to that part of the body as well as widening blood vessels. This leads to an increase of oxygen which will restore cells and help with the appearance of your skin.
Some practitioners will use a topical numbing cream before the treatment. If no numbing cream is used the injections may have a slight sting to them.
The procedure will take around 30 minutes
You can resume normal activities after the treatment aside from swimming and bathing for 24 hours.
Carboxytherapy costs between £100-£250 per session depending on the size of the area being treated and around 4/6 sessions are needed with top ups throughout the year.
Radiofrequency can also be used to treat cellulite. Please read our previous blog on Radiofrequency to find out all about it.