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A New Option to Improve the Appearance of Cellulite

With Joel L. Cohen, MD

In the midst of the body contouring boom with a growing number of non invasive and minimally invasive treatment options to help patients shed fat and sculpt various body areas, cellulite has remained a difficult to treat problem for many patients. Many women, even very thin women, complain about the appearance of dimple type cellulite.

“This dimple type appearance of cellulite is something we tend to see in people who work out, eat healthy, and who have some troublesome areas despite the fact that they’re in good shape,” says Joel L. Cohen, MD, adding that until now there hasn’t been a reliable way to address this.

The Cellfina System from Ulthera, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Merz, is now FDA approved for the long-term improvement in the appearance of cellulite on the buttocks and thighs with no loss of benefit for up to two years. Cellfina is the only FDA-cleared minimally invasive procedure clinically proven to improve the appearance of cellulite for results that last at least two years, the longest duration cleared by the FDA. The Cellfina System combines proprietary technology with subcision—the minimally invasive procedure targets the tight connective-tissue bands in the underlying structure of cellulite known as fibrous septae. It uses a precision-guided, vacuum-assisted approach to optimally release the restricting septae, improving the appearance of cellulite, and providing a smoother look to the skin.

Patient above is shown before and one year post Cellfina treatment (right). Note Cellfina is cleared for results up to two years.

When treating patients with the Cellfina device, Dr. Cohen says he marks out the individual dimples with a gentian violet marker, noting that the average number of dimples patient have is 16 to 18. The vacuum device with an anesthesia platform is then placed physically over those marked-out dimples, and then they are anesthetized using a special 22g needle placed into the platform in the areas being lifted by the suction to introduce the tumescent anesthesia. Once all of the dimples are anesthetized, the same vacuum chamber is used for treatment, but this time with a release platform attached to it instead of the anesthesia platform.

Dr. Cohen says the principals of the specific treatment come from subcision, but the Cellfina System offers much more precision release of the fibrous bands that cause dimpling because physicians are lifting the whole area up and introducing the small blade to release the dimple. A motor module is inserted into the release platform to guide a 0.45mm microblade—the needle goes in and swipes across the whole area. Dr. Cohen says there are two depths you can go to with the device and that he typically uses the 6mm depth, but cautions that it’s best not to treat two immediately adjacent dimples at the same depth because using the same depth would potentially allow some fluid accumulation, which could result in a seroma or even hemotoma.

Patients may have some bruising for five day to nine days, and Dr. Cohen tells patients to take it easy for four to five days after treatment, avoiding activities like workouts, yoga, and strenuous activity. To help minimize downtime, Dr. Cohen says after the procedure, his nurses actually take their two thumbs over the released areas and massage out any remaining anesthesia or any bleeding and then cover the area with a bandage. Patients are instructed to bring really tight biking shorts or workout spandex to the office to wear after the procedure to help decrease swelling, bruising, and fluid accumulation.

Dr. Cohen also provides specific instructions on post-treatment washing of the areas that were released and instructs patients to prep their toilet seat with an antimicrobial wipe to avoid any potential for infection through the very small entry points left from the procedure. Although, he explains, the risk of infection is low because the entry points are so small. Dr. Cohen says patients have been very happy with the results.

The Cellfina™ System will be available to physicians across the US soon. 

Find more about Dr. Cohen’s experience with the Cellfina System at

Employing Radiofrequency and Ultrasound for Fat Reduction

By Jeanine B. Downie, MD

Discussion of “body contouring” very often conjures images of flat, toned abs but the clinical reality is that patients want to target all different parts of their body for fat melting, particularly areas with stubborn fat, like the thighs. In my practice, we have successfully integrated fat reduction services with selective radiofrequency and focused ultrasound individually and in combination.

The BTL Vanquish and now the BTL Vanquish ME deliver selective radiofrequency energy for circumferential fat reduction of the abdomen. Newly published data confirm that selective radiofrequency, induces apoptosis of adipocytes in humans (J Drugs Dermatol. 2015 Jun 1;14(6):622-3).

Treatment beyond the abdomen is popular in my practice. Some patients come in specifically seeking treatment for an area like the thighs. The Vanquish Flex applicator is a two-panel system designed for use on the thighs and saddlebags. The noncontact Flex hovers over upper legs and delivers selective RF energy to heat the deep tissue layer. The noninvasive technology creates an electromagnetic field with energy flow control to safely target and destroy fat cells, resulting in a reduction in entire upper leg circumference.

Although initial protocols called for four treatment sessions, we currently recommend a series of six treatments. You treat 30 minutes on one thigh and then 30 minutes on the other thigh, so the patient is in your chair for an hour. Medical assistants put the thigh applicator on and monitor patients. Note that if a patient sweats a lot as a result of the heat on their thigh, office staff might have to hold a fan to blow cool air; presence of sweat could result in a blister.

Patient above is shown before and after Vanquish ME treatment (right).

I also use the Futura Pro from Perigee Medical, an FDA-cleared, device that offers 1 MHz Ultrasound Technology combined with a muscle re-education system to simulate natural muscle fiber activation and increase local blood circulation. Because the ultrasound wave is not a high-frequency focused ultrasound, there is no pain or discomfort from treatment. A medical assistant applies the ultrasound for 20 to 30 minutes on the area of the body the patient is targeting—which could be the abdomen, the buttocks, the thighs, or upper back—to break up the fat. After applying the ultrasound to that area for 20 to 30 minutes, electric muscle stimulation pads are placed on the patient to contract the muscles. These electric muscle stimulation pads are the same type that have been used in physical therapy for years. They intensify the degree of fat lost because of the contraction of the muscles; Patients lose weight and lose inches.

For patients interested in skin tightening, such as patients who have lost weight or post-pregnancy, we use the Exilis in my practice. I regularly use several of these technologies in combination for optimal results. It’s worth noting that the Protégé—or the baby Exilis—is useful for the face for tissue tightening of the eyelids and for the lower jaw to reduce the square face look that patients get as they age.

Dr. Downie is founder and director of image Dermatology in Montclair, NJ. She is on staff at Mountainside and Overlook Hospitals. A popular lecturer, she has made frequent media appearances, including on The Today Show.

Cryolipolysis for Body Contouring

By Mark G. Rubin, MD

Demand for body contouring is strong and growing. It is an area of high interest in the public sphere, and that interest is translating to demand in the practice. Interestingly, a number of our body contouring patients are fit individuals who are bothered by a few areas of persistent fat.

In our practice, we use CoolSculpting, which we incorporated last year. Within a few months of introducing the service, we added a second device to meet the significant demand. Patients generally see results with one to two treatments. An important consideration when selecting a body contouring device for a practice is to choose a system that indeed destroys fat. Data confirm the phenomenon of cryolipolysis with CoolSculpting. As with liposuction, once those fat cells are removed or destroyed, they will not return. Patients must understand, however, that they can still gain weight, especially in un-treated areas.

Learn more about Dr. Rubin’s experience on Device Talk

Respondents to the 2015 ASDS Consumer Survey on Cosmetic Dermatologic Procedures indicated for the third year in a row that excess weight is their top cosmetic concern. Body sculpting treatments including cryolipolysis—commonly known as “fat-freezing”—have surged 53 percent since 2012 to 208,000 in 2014.

Patients will notice the results of treatment not only in terms of visible assessment, but in the fit of their clothes. The primary objective of contouring is slimming or toning, not weight loss. Nonetheless, in our practice, we weigh patients at baseline and at follow-up, primarily to keep patients on track. In my experience, any time we do something related to fat treatment, some patients will take that as an excuse to splurge on their diets.

Treatment in the abdominal area may be associated with some discomfort and some post-treatment tenderness. Such discomfort is unusual with treatment on other body areas. Some patients will occasionally experience anesthetic areas in the abdomen following treatment and this may persist for a few weeks, but they may be assured that this is transient.

From a practice management standpoint, a benefit of CoolSculpting is that a staff member need not be in the room the entire time the patient is undergoing treatment. This means that we have not had to add staff or reduce other services in order to offer CoolSculpting. It is worth noting that treatment time provides an opportunity for patients to interface with your practice. Probably 90 percent of our patients who come initially for fat reduction ultimately end up undergoing additional cosmetic services.

Mark G. Rubin, MD is a board-certified dermatologist who practices in Beverly Hills, CA.

Non-Invasive Lipolysis of the Abdomen

Physicians in the US will soon have a new option to target fat in the abdomen. Cynosure, Inc. received FDA 510(k) clearance to market its SculpSure device for non-invasive lipolysis of the abdomen. The device was previously cleared for non-invasive lipolysis of the flanks. SculpSure is a safe, clinically proven treatment designed to reduce fat non-invasively by disrupting subcutaneous fat cells.

The hands-free device features a flexible applicator system to treat multiple anatomical areas of the body. SculpSure, which uses a 1060nm laser, can treat an anatomical area in about 25 minutes. Patients are able to achieve desired results without downtime or surgery.

Abstracts presented at the 2015 American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery Annual Conference featured clinical data from approximately 100 subjects treated with SculpSure in multicenter studies at two US sites. Researchers saw statistically significant reduction in adipose layer thickness, six and 12 weeks post-treatment. SculpSure is intended for individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or less. According to the World Health Organization, in 2014 approximately 1.3 billion adults 18 years and older worldwide were overweight. n

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