There’s no shortage of options for battling cellulite: You can rub on caffeine-spiked lotions, do lymphatic drainage massages, blast your body with lasers, exfoliate—and exfoliate some more. But the stubborn dimples often persist. So when the FDA approved a new procedure that effectively treats cellulite with results lasting up to two years—and possibly longer—it was hailed as a “total game changer,” says dermatologist Deanne M. Robinson, M.D., of Connecticut Dermatology Group in Norwalk, CT, who was an investigator in the clinical trials.
Called Cellfina, the procedure is elegantly simple: it targets the fibrous septae—the bands that run from the deep part of the skin to the surface. “When these bands become inelastic, they pull down the skin, creating a dimpled effect,” explains dermatologist Omar Ibrahimi, M.D., of Connecticut Skin Institute in Stamford. “Cellfina is an extremely precise procedure that cuts the bands, which allows the skin to relax and smooth out.”
The procedure, which is considered minimally invasive, has impressive statistics behind it. “What makes it a major breakthrough is not only does it have patient satisfaction ratings in the 93-to-96-percent range, but the results have been shown to persist out to three years in clinical trials,” says Dr. Ibrahimi. Since the technology first debuted, Dr. Robinson has treated more than 100 patients. “It’s now the gold standard,” she says.
Still, Cellfina is not a cure-all. While it’s approved for use on the buttocks and back of the thighs, the treatment can’t address skin laxity. “Cellfina is very good at targeting the dimples, but not the rolls or ripples that come with cellulite,” Dr. Robinson says. The best candidates, Dr. Ibrahimi adds, are typically “women in their 20s to 50s, who have well defined dimples.” The treatment usually takes between 30 to 120 minutes, and costs anywhere between $3,000 to $6,000 on average. That number might seem high, but Cellfina only requires one treatment—not multiple rounds.
So what does the procedure feel like? Your skin is first prepped with lidocaine. Then, it’s drawn into a suction-like device, where a small needle enters the skin and cuts the fibrous bands. “On a scale of one being no pain to 10 being the most pain imaginable, the rating is about a three,” says Dr. Robinson. Afterward, patients can take Tylenol to ease any soreness, and they will need to wear spandex or Spanx for two weeks to minimize swelling. “Most people are back to normal activity within a day or two,” says Dr. Ibrahimi.
From there, it takes about three months to reap the full benefits and notice a profound change in the texture of your skin. The wait is worth it for many, say experts. “Oftentimes the patients most affected by this are women who are doing everything right from eating to exercising but because of the nature of cellulite, there hasn’t been much they could do about it,” Dr. Ibrahimi says. As Dr. Robinson points out, “You can’t exercise away those dimples.”