Body Treatments Go High Def
Posted On Mar 12, 2021
If “smooth” is your end goal, and cellulite or jiggling limbs have got you down in the dumps, take a peek at the latest wave in body-perfecting treatments that will firm your form.
BY Kevin Wilson
Cellulite, flapping upper arms, jiggling thighs… these woes have long been the bane of our existence, and proven endlessly tricky to treat. While individuals with extreme needs opt for surgical fat removal—along with lifting and tightening of overlying skin—such measures are far too extreme for the majority of cases. “Dealing with fat deposition in the upper arms and thighs is a challenge, especially for women, and you can’t spot-reduce with diet and exercise,” explains New Jersey-based dermatologist Jeanine B. Downie, MD. “We lose weight globally, which means we might slim our thighs but lose fat somewhere we’d like to keep it.”
There’s hope in non-invasive and minimally invasive technologies designed for these problems. Exilis ($1,200 for four arm treatments) is a monopolar radiofrequency device that tightens skin and melts subcutaneous fat. It ensures uniform heating of fat tissue for a more predictable result. Exilis features a fat-melting module as well as a skin-tightening module, each of which passes RF current through the area. These create heat to melt fat and tighten collagen. “We can tailor therapy by using whatever module is needed,” says Downie. “We see reductions of more than an inch from upper arm circumference, and more in thighs and other areas.”
Exilis requires no anesthesia or numbing cream, according to New York City-based dermatologist Bruce Katz, MD. “It’s RF heating, with a rolling massage, so Exilis therapy is quite relaxing,” Dr. Katz says. “Treatment will take twenty to thirty minutes per area and many patients will want three or more areas treated per session.”
According to Downie, patients who eat the same—or a bit less—and exercise moderately throughout treatment will maximize their outcomes. “I had a patient lose inches from their abdominal area but gain five pounds from overeating,” she says. “You don’t need to be a dieter, but it’s worth it to take care of yourself.” Most Exilis patients in Katz’s practice are women in their mid-forties to early sixties. “People with more sun damage come in earlier in life,” he says, “but it’s genetics that determines when that arm and thigh laxity sets in.”
Although not yet FDA-cleared for cellulite, CelluSmooth ($5,000 to $7,500) offers minimally-invasive, single-session treatment for specific forms of the condition. The business end is a laser emitted through a cannula, or needle-like probe with a rounded tip that’s less traumatic than a needle. Plastic surgeon Marc Salzman, MD, sees excellent results with the device in his Louisville, Kentucky, practice. “Many types of cellulite are characterized by subcutaneous tethers of fibrous tissue, known as septae,” Dr. Salzman says. “This tissue holds the skin down and creates the mini-bulges of thick fat that contribute to the lumpy look. Treatment is a three-step process using the same laser cannula, and it’s very tolerable.”
At the outset of CelluSmooth treatment, a local anesthetic is infused via a small hole in the skin. The same hole—which will not require stitches— serves as a portal for the cannula. “We use the laser to sever the septae and release the skin, then melt fat with the laser,” Salzman says.
“Heat causes coagulation of collagen and stimulates the production of new collagen as well, which creates tightening. We adjust the laser output, making it a cutting or a heating tool.” Some bruising will occur, as will swelling, due in part to the infusion of anesthetic. Dr. Salzman says people can return to normal, light activity by the following day.
Compression garments are worn for two to three weeks, while bruising dissipates and the body takes care of fat, liquid, and cellular debris. “Patients can expect soreness for about a week, and should keep their heart rate and blood pressure level for a week,” Dr. Salzman says. “It takes three months for complete healing and tissue remodeling.”
Acoustic wave therapy with CelluPulse ($250 per treatment)—also not yet FDA-cleared—is another new weapon against cellulite. Brian Buinewicz, MD, is a Philadelphia- area plastic surgeon who is leading the way with AWT. “CelluPulse works on the theory that cellulite occurs when the buildup of toxin metabolites in fat creates swollen compartments of fat that reduce local circulation, causing misshapen fat bulging and unwanted fluid buildup,” says Buinewicz.
“This contributes to the stereotypical cellulite look. AWT non-invasively disrupts tissue in the area with sound waves—sort of like a jackhammer—to drive the extra fluid from the superficial compartments and stimulate the return of proper circulation. The depth and shape of the sound waves are controlled by changing treatment heads on the device.” (Hearing protection is offered but not required.) Treatments take about 20 minutes, and no anesthesia is required. It takes six to eight twice-a-week treatments to complete a full course of AWT. “It’s like an intense deep tissue massage,” Buinewicz insists.
“There’s a little discomfort associated with AWT, but it’s very tolerable, and there’s no bruising or pain afterward. You can see and feel the difference immediately with each treatment.” Science has indeed taken the offensive in the war against cellulite. These groundbreaking treatments give us the power to trade nagging bumps for all-over beauty.