Cellulite is probably one of the most common skin concerns out there. Not only are so many of us, especially women, susceptible to it, it can increase with age and weight gain. It’s also fairly dependent on genetics and super hard to get rid of—even with exercises targeting the exact areas where it appears. That said, it's super common—with one white paper even suggesting that 85% of post-adolescent women have it somewhere on their bodies. Cellulite lives in the subcutaneous tissue of our skin, which is right below the skin’s surface, and it’s a result of physical and structural changes that happen naturally with aging.
While cellulite is common and perfectly normal, if you decide you want to pursue treatments to minimize its appearance, this is where Cellulaze comes in. Administered as a laser treatment to different parts of your body (most commonly, the buttocks and backs of the thighs), it uses heat to cut through collagen and tissue bands that have formed over time and created dimples. Dr. Jennifer Herrmann, MD, explains that while it doesn’t do anything to tighten the skin, it can be effective for those who have mild to moderate skin dimples. Below, she shares everything to know about Cellulaze so you can decide if it's right for you and walk into your first appointment fully prepared.
Meet the Expert
- Dr. Jennifer Herrmann, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at Moy Fincher Chipps Facial Plastics and Dermatology in Beverly Hills. She is skilled in treatment for many skin conditions, including cellulite.
- Dr. Ronald Moy, MD, FAAD, is one of the leading cosmetic and facial plastic surgeons in Los Angeles and a co-founder of Moy Fincher Chipps Facial Plastics and Dermatology. He is currently on the Editorial Board of Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery and Aesthetic Surgery.
What Is Cellulaze?
In the simplest terms, Cellulaze is a laser that emits heat and breaks down collagen bands under the skin that cause the dimples we know as cellulite. “The technology uses a laser that is directed under the skin,” Dr. Herrmann says. “Its heat breaks up the tissue bands that tether the skin down and create cellulite dimples, as well as induces collagen synthesis in the skin’s dermis, which tightens the skin.”
In addition to working best on people with mild to moderate cellulite, Dr. Herrmann specifies that Cellulaze works best for patients with some skin laxity—meaning a little bit of stretch. She also notes that the best results are usually seen in patients who are at their goal weight. That said, she cautions patients who want to see a drastic change in fat reduction or excess skin. “It really depends on a patient's goals,” explains Dr. Herrmann. “If someone wishes to more dramatically reduce fat or excess skin, liposuction and/or a tummy tuck may be more relevant.”
Benefits of Cellulaze
You have options when it comes to treating cellulite, so why might Cellulaze be your choice? It can be a great method for those who are ready to commit and want long-lasting results, and a few main perks are as follows.
- It only requires small incisions
- It only requires localized anesthesia
- Results can be visible after only one treatment
- Results can last for years at a time
- Maintenance isn’t necessary
Dr. Herrmann notes that wearing compression garments after the procedure can “enhance results and speed recovery." That said, the final results, especially any tightening, may take three to six months to fully appear. This is due to the fact that the lasers stimulate collagen production over time, which will lead to slightly tighter, younger-looking skin. It can also help increase skin’s thickness, which will make it less susceptible to cellulite in the future.
How to Prepare for a Cellulaze Treatment
While Cellulaze is a minimally invasive treatment, you still need to search for a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Once you've found the right doctor, make sure you look into all your treatment options to make sure there isn’t anything that could be better suited for your individual case. Specifically, Dr. Herrmann says that younger patients who need less skin tightening should look into Qwo, an injectable that dissolves collagen bands. She also says patients looking for more skin tightening as opposed to dimple treatment should consider Morpheus8, which is a microneedling radiofrequency device.
It’s also important to note that the best results are typically observed in people who are at their ideal weight. This is because weight loss can impact the skin’s elasticity and overall appearance.
What to Expect During a Cellulaze Treatment
After you've worked with your doctor and fully determined that Cellulaze is right for you, you'll really only have to come in for one treatment. It's performed under local anesthesia, meaning the dermatologist or plastic surgeon will only have to numb the affected areas. From there, a small incision is made to insert the laser underneath the skin.
After the laser is removed, simple pressure dressings like gauze are applied initially so any drainage can occur. Once the spot where the laser entered the skin has healed, patients are instructed to wear compression garments for up to three weeks—so definitely bust out your snuggest workout leggings. The entire procedure typically takes only about an hour, and the incision wound usually heals completely in a few days. Dr. Herrmann notes that it's also normal for the treated “areas to remain pink or hyperpigmented for several weeks post-treatment.”
Potential Side Effects of Cellulaze
Obviously, one base-level side effect is the incision wound, which you may see and feel as it heals following treatment. If you're super fair-skinned you may find that you need to avoid shorts or dresses for a couple of weeks if you want to disguise any pink areas, slight bruising, swelling, or hyperpigmentation that came along with the procedure.
Dr. Herrmann notes that there's also some risk associated with applying too much heat or placing the laser too shallowly under the skin. “There is a risk for skin burns, dyspigmentation, lumps, or bumps,” says Dr. Herrmann. “It also may not achieve enough improvement in patients with moderate to severe cellulite.”
Dr. Ronald Moy, MD, says that it's also completely normal for some temporary numbness to occur in the area directly following the treatment. After the mild side effects are over and the skin has had time to tighten and adjust, Dr. Moy says that you can expect the results to last for years to come.
One of the best parts about Cellulaze treatments is that they don't require any medical aftercare. For the best results, Dr. Herrmann strongly suggests that patients wear compression garments for up to three weeks to boost circulation.
She also cautions that, while the results can last for years at a time, patients should be aware that “single treatments are typically never perfect indefinitely, and developing a maintenance plan over time is critical.” This maintenance plan will depend on your skin's elasticity, as well as cellulite development following the procedure.
Not including potential maintenance later on, Cellulaze is pretty much a one-and-done event, and the pricing obviously depends on where you live—with big cities being more expensive—as well as the surgeon or doctor that you choose. That said, Dr. Moy says that Cellulaze treatments typically run between $5,000 and $6,000.
The Final Takeaway
While the cost is fairly high, it's nice to know that one treatment should do the trick—at least for a good amount of time. Cellulaze may not provide the most dramatic results you can get, but if the dimples on the backs of your thighs have been causing you mental strife for years, you can rest easy knowing that a treatment exists that's fairly low-risk while offering long-lasting results.