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in the News
Leida Snow or Adeena Colbert
Please credit the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
NEW YORK, NY (August 6, 2003) - Most women, to varying
degrees, are plagued with cellulite, a condition that gives the skin a
dimpled appearance and usually is most prevalent in the thigh, hip and
buttock areas. Patients consulting with board-certified plastic surgeons
for body contouring frequently ask what can be done to reduce the appearance
of cellulite. Currently, there is no ideal treatment.
" Cellulite is caused by bands of fibrous
tissue that connect the muscle to the skin," says Peter Fodor, MD,
President-Elect of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
(ASAPS). "If these bands are tight and the fat between the muscle
and the skin is compressed, there will be dimpling." Almost all women
(and some men) have cellulite, stemming from genetic predisposition, hormonal
changes and weight gain.
Various treatments have emerged over time
that claim to "treat" cellulite. ASAPS, the leading society
of plastic surgeons who specialize in aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery, offers
this information summarizing the current available information:
- Liposuction: Lipoplasty, commonly known
as liposuction, does not reduce cellulite; however, some surgeons 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.
- Fat Injections: Autologous fat harvested
from donor sites in the abdomen and flank areas may fill in depressions.
However, the results of fat injections often are not permanent.
- Lower Body Lift: This procedure evolved
from one 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 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 especially careful patient selection and, as
with all cosmetic surgery, the patient's full informed consent.
- Endermologie: Mechanical roller massage
therapy has been proposed as a treatment for cellulite and as an adjunct
to liposuction. Treatments may produce temporary improvement in the
appearance of cellulite, but long-term results of this noninvasive therapy
have not been established, either clinically or scientifically. According
to a 2001 study published in Aesthetic Surgery Journal, ASAPS' peer-reviewed
publication, Endermologie in and of itself has not been found to be
beneficial for producing long-term and lasting clinical results.
- Mesotherapy: 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. Currently, there are no peer-reviewed articles or scientific
studies to back up claims that mesotherapy improves the appearance of
- Herbal and dietary supplements:
Some makers of herbal and dietary supplements claim to cure
what they say are the internal causes of cellulite, such as poor circulation,
slow metabolism, and bloating. Since supplements are not regulated by
the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unless they are marketed as
a cure for a disease or a medical condition, some companies market supplements
with claims that are unsubstantiated by scientific studies. Until reliable
data is provided concerning any herbal or dietary supplement, consumers
should be skeptical of claims and should also be aware that many such
supplements carry risks.
- Creams and lotions:
"Miracle" creams and lotions are frequently marketed with
claims of diminishing the unsightly dimpling of cellulite. These topical
"cures" contain a variety of active ingredients including,
but not limited, to: caffeine, green tea, plant extracts, retinol, aminophylline
(an asthma drug), and the antioxidant DMAE. While creams may mask cellulite
temporarily by hydrating and swelling the skin, there is no science
to back up their long-term efficacy.
Conclusion: Although some
treatments may provide temporary improvement in the dimpled appearance
of cellulite, to date there is no proven, permanent "cure" for
The 2100-member American Society for Aesthetic
Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) is the only plastic surgery organization devoted
entirely to the advancement of cosmetic surgery. ASAPS is recognized throughout
the world as the authoritative source for cosmetic surgery education.
U.S. and Canadian members are certified by the American Board of Plastic
Surgery or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Toll-free referral line: 888.ASAPS.11 (272.7711). Web site: www.surgery.org
visit the ASAPS web site click here.