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Liposuction Can’t Get Rid of Cellulite, and Here’s Why
cellulite up close
Oct 24, 2017

Liposuction is an incredible procedure for removing unwanted fat and recontouring trouble areas, but it’s virtually powerless against cellulite. Countless plastic surgeons have tried to treat cellulite through various liposuction techniques, and the results have always been disappointing.

Why? Because cellulite isn’t like “normal” fat. While liposuction is still one of the best ways to permanently remove fat cells in specific parts of the body, cellulite requires a different type of treatment altogether.

cellulite up close

What Is Cellulite?

Cellulite is different from “normal” fat in several ways. Fat forms rather smooth, uniform sheets or pockets. These pockets are a relatively loose collection of fat cells, with limited connective tissue. Cellulite, on the other hand, is fat that protrudes through the junction between the dermis and the hypodermis.

Cellulite also contains a substantial amount of connective tissue running perpendicular to the skin. So instead of a flat, smooth layer of fat, cellulite fat is trapped within this web of connective tissue, giving the skin a dimpled, uneven appearance. This connective tissue also pulls on the more superficial skin layers, causing striae or stretch marks.cellulite anatomy

How Does Liposuction Work?

Doctors Breslow and Farkas have been performing liposuction in Paramus, New Jersey for decades, and have extensive experience in a wide range of liposuction techniques.

While there are many different approaches (e.g. tumescent, ultrasound-assisted, power-assisted, etc.), the basic principles remain the same: a thin cannula is inserted into the hypodermal fat layer and used to break up and liquefy fat, which is then suctioned out of the body.

To be effective and provide an aesthetically pleasing result, the plastic surgeon must be able to remove the fat uniformly. Consider the alternative: if the plastic surgeon cannot reach all of the fat in a targeted area, pockets of adipose tissue may remain untouched or only partially treated.

Why Can’t Liposuction Effectively Treat Cellulite?

Now that we’ve seen what cellulite is and how liposuction works, it’s easier to understand why liposuction isn’t the best tool for treating cellulite. Be weary of any so-called expert who claims otherwise.

Remember, cellulite protrudes through the junction between the hypodermis and dermis, whereas the liposuction cannula is used in the hypodermal fat layer. The cannula does not penetrate into the dermis, which would be dangerously close to the surface of the skin. This means that it can’t be used to treat any of the cellulite fat that has protruded into the dermal layer.

The other major reason why liposuction does not effectively treat cellulite is the presence of those perpendicular bands of fibrous tissue. The tough, fibrous connective tissue found throughout cellulite creates countless roadblocks for the liposuction cannula.

This is why liposuction works so well when removing normal fat, but is stubbornly ineffective when trying to remove cellulite—the cannula simply can’t reach the many pockets of sequestered fat uniformly.

How Is Cellulite Treated?

Given its unique anatomy, cellulite is difficult to treat. Liposuction is certainly not the optimal choice, and likely only helps at the margins.

What is needed is a treatment that disrupts both the cellulite fat and connective tissue.

As it turns out, one of the most effective ways of delivering this disruptive energy is through a combination of heat and pressure, which breaks apart the fat within its connective tissue compartments so that it can be naturally absorbed by the body.

Of course, a careful balance must be struck when using heat for aesthetic medical procedures. If the energy source is too weak, the procedure will be ineffective. If the source is too strong, the skin and surrounding tissues could burn.

This is why we use the ThermiSmooth system to treat cellulite — ThermiSmooth Body provides a powerful but safe heat source to contour areas of the body with stubborn cellulite.

thermismooth body

How Does Thermismooth Treat Cellulite?

ThermiSmooth Body is an FDA-approved skin rejuvenation device with an integrated temperature control system. This system allows the operator to select a pre-determined temperature that is known to safely provide therapeutic benefit for most cellulite patients, without overheating the skin.

The ThermiSmooth wand delivers controlled amounts of radiofrequency energy, which heats and dissolves the cellulite fat within the treatment area. This deep penetrating energy targets cellulite fat, leaving superficial layers of the skin relatively unaffected. Pressure is also applied to the treatment area, further disrupting fat pockets within cellulite tissue.

A ThermiSmooth treatment takes approximately 15 minutes per target area, while the patient is fully awake. In other words, no general or local anesthesia is required. The superficial layers of skin are covered in a cooling gel, which prevents surface skin burns, making ThermiSmooth both painless and safe.

Multiple treatments of ThermiSmooth are usually needed to achieve maximum aesthetic benefit; typically six cellulite treatments spread over a period of two weeks. However, there is absolutely no downtime. Patients are free to leave and resume all of their normal activities immediately after the procedure.

It’s important to remember that no cellulite treatment is permanent. Nevertheless, ThermiSmooth can reduce the appearance of cellulite for six months to a year (and longer in some cases). And since ThermiSmooth delivers radiofrequency energy to the targeted areas, the procedure also stimulates the production of collagen, which helps the treated skin look and feel smoother.

If you’re struggling with cellulite and would like to learn more about ThermiSmooth, contact The Breslow Center for Plastic Surgery in Paramus, New Jersey today to schedule a consultation.

About the Author

Dr. Gary Breslow, MD, FACS

Dr. Gary Breslow, MD, FACS

Is a highly regarded plastic surgeon in Paramus New Jersey, known by both patients and peers as a problem-solver with a warm, engaging personality, and an instinctive ability to identify and truly understand the goals of his patients and the patients, themselves. Dr. Breslow has dedicated his efforts to providing results of only the most unsurpassed quality, continually staying abreast of the most advanced techniques in cosmetic surgery for the benefit of his patients. Dr. Breslow is Board-Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and is licensed to practice plastic & reconstructive surgery in both New Jersey and New York.

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