Can you treat cellulite with plastic surgery?

Review of procedures and their effectiveness

Cellulite is a problem that we all would like to get rid of but at this time there is no ideal solution for it despite what some companies might like you to believe. Although a few treatments do provide temporary improvement in the appearance of cellulite, so far there is no proven, permanent “cure” for cellulite. By following simple skincare and diet/exercise routine, though, a woman can somewhat "manage" her cellulite but increasingly women are turning to plastic surgeons for help with cellulite.  “Cellulite is caused by bands of fibrous tissue that connect the muscle to the skin,” says Dr. Sam Speron, body contouring expert and consumer advocate. “If these bands are tight and the fat between the muscle and the skin is compressed, there will be dimpling. Almost all women and even some men have cellulite. Cellulite stems from genetic predisposition, hormonal changes and weight gain. Patients need to understand that cellulite can be improved, but not removed!”
So what type of options are available from a plastic surgeon to deal with cellulite?

Liposuction: It does not reduce cellulite by itself. Some surgeons, however, have reported performing a technique of cellulite lysing (breaking up) using a liposuction cannula (hollow tube powered by gas or electricity) that features a smooth, round-tipped tunneling rod inserted in a hollow casing with a sharp, V-pronged cutting edge. The tunneling rod assures passage under the skin to the area to be broken up, while the curette fork (loop shaped surgical instrument) extends at the tip to sever only the dimple-causing connective tissue system. The area that is released can then be injected with fat to fill the space. For vast majority of women, this technique does improve the appearance of cellulite. (Related:  Lose weight to reduce cellulite)

Fat Injections: Autologous fat that is obtained from donor sites in the abdomen and flank areas may fill in depressions. Again, this is more successful if a release is performed at the same time. However, the results of fat injections may not be permanent. But since no foreign material is injected, the results look more natural.



Lower Body Lift: This procedure evolved from what used to be called “Cellulite Lift.” The technique was designed to replace the thigh/buttock lift, a procedure that works well for some patients but may produce scars that are visible when wearing a bathing suit. The lower body lift requires an incision around the entire circumference of the abdominal and buttock area, so that excess skin can be removed and the entire flank, thigh and buttocks areas can be lifted. The incision can usually be placed discreetly within standard or high-cut bikini lines. The result of the procedure is tightening of the back, flank and abdominal tissues, and reduction in the appearance of cellulite in the lifted areas. The lower body lift is a major surgical procedure that requires a lengthy recovery and leaves an extensive, though well-positioned, scar. For this reason, it requires specially careful patient selection and, as with all cosmetic surgery, the patient's full informed consent. You must think about this procedure after consulting with your surgeon.

Endermologie: This mechanical roller massage therapy has been proposed as a treatment for cellulite and as complement to liposuction. Treatments may produce temporary improvement in the appearance of cellulite, but long-term results of this non-invasive therapy are yet to be established, either clinically or scientifically. Endermologie in and of itself has not been found to be beneficial for producing long-term and lasting clinical results. One study by Bruce Shack of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine has looked at the effects of endermologie and observed that it breaks up cellulite though the results achieved can be influenced by how good the professional is who does the procedure. In other words, pick your clinic/spa after doing your research.  After all, the cost is over $1,000.

Mesotherapy: In this procedure, small amounts of homeopathic medicine are injected immediately beneath the surface of the skin to break down the cellulite and to improve circulation and lymphatic and venous drainage. Like Endermologie, there are no scientific studies to back up claims that mesotherapy improves the appearance of cellulite. Mesotherapy is also not yet approved by the FDA, though a clinic trial to study its safety is being done.