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Cellulite

 

How cellulite is formed and how to improve its appearance

The above diagram shows a cross section of female fat and skin. In the two diagrams, the image on the left shows a cross section with no cellulite and the image on the right shows an image with cellulite. Female fat is arranged with connective tissue, known as septae, that anchors the dermis to the fascia superficialis. Due to various reasons such as poor circulation, the septae can become stiff and fibrous. When the fat cells increase in size , the septae lack the elasticity to stretch, so the fat cells bulge through the surface of the skin. This is what causes the classic “orange peel” dimpled skin appearance of cellulite.

The fat cells in male skin are arranged diagonally to the surface of the skin, not perpendicular – as in the image below. This fat arrangement is not as conducive to fat bulging through the surface, so this is why men are fat less likely to have cellulite than women.

male skin and fat architecture compared with female skin and fat architecture

How can cellulite be treated?

The newest and best treatment for cellulite is a technology called Shockwave or ESWT (Extra corporeal shockwave therapy). Shockwave therapy uses shockwaves (sound waves that travel at supersonic speeds) that tackle the causes of cellulite in a number of ways:

  • Mechanical damage and inflammation caused by the Shockwaves increases collagen in both the skin and the septae due to the formation of new blood vessels. The skin becomes thicker and more elastic and the septae less fibrous and more elastic as the Shockwave breaks down the fibrotic tissue.
  • The inflammation caused instigates apoptosis (fat cell death), especially when combined with Fat Freezing, to lessen the size of the fat cells.
  • The increased skin thickness and elasticity reduces the appearance of the fat cells protruding through the skin, by restricting their expansion, thus improving the appearance of the skin.
  • For clinical proof, see for example: “Acoustic wave therapy for cellulite, body shaping and fat reduction“.

How specifically does Shockwave therapy improve the appearance of cellulite?

Whilst the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, shockwave therapy is believed to improve the appearance of cellulite through several possible ways:

  1. Disruption of fibrous bands: cellulite is characterized by fibrous bands of connective tissue that pull down on the skin, creating the dimpled appearance. Shockwave therapy uses high-energy acoustic waves to target these fibrous bands, causing them to break up or disintegrate. This can help release the tension and allow the skin to become smoother.
  2. Stimulation of collagen production: Shockwave therapy promotes the production of collagen, a protein that provides structure and elasticity to the skin. By increasing collagen synthesis, the therapy can help strengthen the connective tissue, improve skin elasticity, and reduce the visibility of cellulite.
  3. Improvement of blood flow and lymphatic drainage: Shockwave therapy stimulates blood circulation and enhances lymphatic drainage in the treated area. This increased circulation and lymphatic flow can improve the removal of waste products and toxins, reducing fluid retention and swelling associated with cellulite.
  4. Stimulation of fat metabolism: Shockwave therapy has been suggested to activate fat cell metabolism, which may contribute to reducing the size and appearance of fat cells. This effect is thought to be achieved by increasing cellular activity and promoting the breakdown of stored fat.

It’s important to note that shockwave therapy is not a definitive cure for cellulite, and individual results may vary. Multiple sessions are usually required (my standard protocol is two treatments per week for six weeks, then a review appointment the following week), and the treatment is often combined with other approaches such as exercise, a healthy diet, and other aesthetic procedures such as a lymphatic drainage massage and fat freezing (if appropriate) for optimal results. During the consultation I will be able to provide you with more specific information about the potential benefits and suitability of shockwave therapy for your individual needs.

Find out more about Shockwave Therapy.

shockwave therapy for cellulite on the thighs
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