New laser system works under the skin to blast cellulite

New laser system works under the skin to blast cellulite
Cellulite starts around puberty when estrogen levels increase.

A new FDA-approved laser called Cellulaze is designed to reach under the skin to change the underlying structure that causes cellulite. American women have gobbled up cellulite products and nonsurgical treatments such as massage, suction and radio waves. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) reports to Harper's Bazaar that ninety percent of all women experience cellulite to some degree.

What is cellulite?
Skin undulations and indentations, especially prominent on the backs of the thighs, are caused in part by the architecture of female skin.  The septae, vertical bands of tough connective tissue that pull down on skin, cause existing fat pockets to bulge upward like the coils of a mattress. Like a mattress, the older you are, the more prominent the stuffing. Men don't have cellulite because their septae are arranged in a different pattern. Cellulite can start around puberty when estrogen levels increase. One dermatologist calls it a "secondary sex characteristic" that is no different from other markers, like breasts or body hair.

How does Cellulaze work?
Your plastic surgeon will inject you with local anesthesia. He or she will then thread a laser fiber through a pencil-lead-thin cannula and snip the septae, melt your fat pockets and heat the skin from the inside out, which encourages collagen and elastin growth. A Montclair plastic surgeon tells Harper's, "Once those septae are severed, they won't grow back in that problematic vertical pattern." He claims that the new, eventual collagen and elastin growth (as a result of the laser heat) will leave your skin, on average, 29 percent more elastic than before.

Downtime is minimal. You will probably be able to go back to work the next day, but you will need to wear a compression garment for at least a week. Bruising and soreness may last for a week or two. In about two weeks, you can begin to see a change. You can expect final results within four to six months when the spike in collagen and elastin has been fully realized.

Risks, side effects and results
One plastic surgeon has had patients who had Cellulaze three years ago and the cellulite has not returned. Possible risks include infection, some temporary numbness or tingling in the treated areas and the potential for scars. But because incisions are about one-millimeter, the only thing most patients notice is a little dot.

If you have large pockets of fat or doughy, saggy skin, you may need liposuction in addition to Cellulaze. A board-certified plastic surgeon can tell you if you can benefit from this treatment.