• As many as 98% of American women will develop cellulite over the course of their lives.
  • Cellfina is a minimally-invasive treatment that attacks the root causes of cellulite.
  • Cellfina has a high level of patient satisfaction in treating cellulite with results lasting 2-4 years.

What is cellulite?

Cellulite is a skin condition characterized by dimpling of the skin, most notably on the thighs or buttocks, predominantly affecting women.

What causes cellulite?

Just under the surface of the skin, fibrous strands form compartments that aren’t always able to contain every fat cell.

Consequently, bloated fat cells and lymph that get trapped in these compartments tend to protrude, causing the fibrous strands to indent and creating the bumpy, “cottage cheese” look that cellulite brings to the skin.

Why do some people get cellulite?

It’s difficult to pinpoint one across-the-board reason why some people get cellulite.

Samuel Lin, MD, a multi-board-certified plastic surgeon based in Boston, MA, notes how “the current consensus is that cellulite is a multifactorial condition, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of it in each individual patient.”

Factors may include:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Sympathetic nervous system activity

Dr. Lin contends that hormones likely play a significant role. “It’s suspected estrogen plays a role because of how it affects blood vessels, and subsequently, collagen. Receptors that affect fat and collagen may also play a role. Other factors that have been shown to affect the development of cellulite include genetics and one’s lifestyle. What ties all these factors together, however, is an imbalance of fat and collagen.”

Dr. Monica Bonakdar, a respected cosmetic dermatologist with a practice in Newport Beach, CA, believes that diet may play an important role. “What I am most fascinated about is that I see a lot more Americans with cellulite than, for example, Middle Eastern women. So, is it genetic or is it the result of diet preference? I want to blame the American diet of processed foods, preservatives and GMO agriculture.”

What is Cellfina?

Cellfina is a minimally invasive procedure designed to treat cellulite primarily on the back of the thighs and buttocks, but also elsewhere on the body.

It was first approved for use by the FDA in 2015 and allegedly attacks the root causes of cellulite.

This is accomplished by treating the connective bands (septae) which run throughout fat in the thighs and buttocks. These fibers pull the skin downward, creating a dimple-like, or puckering, effect.

How does a Cellfina treatment work?

Cellfina is a minimally-invasive procedure performed in-office under local anesthesia.

Cellfina employs a two-step process of local numbing and tissue release that is believed to directly address one of the primary causes of cellulite.

  • A very small, needle-sized device is used to apply soft, quick pressure onto the connective fibers that cause cellulite to form on the surface of the skin.
  • The handheld device applies suction and grabs the skin before a small blade is inserted in to the area, cutting the fibrous bands under the surface of the skin.
  • By repeatedly applying this pressure the targeted bands eventually wear down and release, allowing the overlying skin to smoothen over the course of several days.
  • By releasing the fibrous bands spanning the fat layer and connecting superficial skin to the lower layers of the dermis, the treatment is alleged to attack cellulite at its source.
  • Once the tension caused by the connective tissue is relieved, cellulite dimples smoothen to leave a more even appearance on the surface of the skin.

The entire procedure takes from 45 – 90 minutes to complete, and only needs to be done once.

As Cellfina is typically performed under local anesthesia, there should be no pain.

Patients can drive themselves home immediately after treatment.

Cellfina before and after pictures

cellulite before and after cellfina
Before and after Cellfina. Credits: Dr. Sharon Giese
cellfina before and after
Before and after Cellfina. Credits: Cellfina

What is the recovery process like?

  • There is no significant downtime after a Cellfina treatment.
  • The treated area treated may be tender afterwards.
  • Some patients complain of mild discomfort for a few days post-treatment, but any pain can be significantly reduced with a non-prescription pain medication like Tylenol.
  • There may be accompanying swelling and bruising that can last up to two weeks.
  • Some doctors provide their patients with a compressive garment afterward in the effort to encourage the bruising and swelling to resolve a little faster.
  • Patients can return to work the following day.

Are there any risks or side-effects to Cellfina?

Cellfina has not been associated with any serious adverse conditions. Common side effects include:

  • Tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Swelling

What results should I expect after Cellfina?

  • Most patients are able to see their results within three days of their procedure, and their full results within 2 weeks, once any potential swelling or bruising has subsided.
  • Results last from 2 – 4 years after only one session
  • According to the manufacturers, 96 percent of patients still report satisfaction with their Cellfina treatment 2 years after treatment.
  • Keeping a stable weight can help prolong the results.

How much do Cellfina treatments cost?

The average price of a Cellfina treatment in the United States runs between $3,500 – $5,000. The price will vary based on the volume of cellulite being treated and the region of the country.

When you go for your initial consultation, your doctor will conduct a physical examination, discuss your goals with you, and provide you with a more accurate cost estimate based on your unique situation.

Who is considered an optimal candidate for Cellfina?

Most people in good overall health can undergo Cellfina treatments. The best results tend to be seen on women who are slim to slightly overweight.

Cellfina is not a weight control treatment, but strictly intended for individuals seeking to target cellulite dimples on their thighs and buttocks. It will not repair loose skin.

Who should avoid Cellfina treatments?

Because there are contraindications to Cellfina, people with the following conditions should not seek treatment:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Vasculitis
  • Coagulopathy or people taking anticoagulant/anti-platelet medications
  • Phlebitis
  • Skin infections
  • High blood pressure
  • Varicose veins in the areas being treated

Cellfina Recall

In December, 2016, a short-term recall of Cellfina was issued by its manufacturer, Ulthera, due to a nonsterile infusion tubing that was part of the patient treatment kit. The issue was resolved shortly after the recall was initiated when the company distributed a different type of tubing.

How does Cellfina compare with other cellulite treatments?

Cellfina is often compared to other cellulite treatments, such as cellulaze and velashape:

 CellfinaCellulazeVelashape
Invasive?Minimally-InvasiveMinimally-InvasiveNon-Invasive
Anesthesia RequiredLocalLocalNone
Mechanism of ActionMechanical interruption of septaeMechanical interruption of septae, laser energy to stimulate collagenRadiofrequency radiation and infrared light, mechanical massage
Time Per Treatment45-90 minutes30 minutes1 hour
Number of Treatments Required1-21-2Minimum of 3-4
Longevity of Results2-4 Years2 Years1 Year
DowntimeMinimalMinimalNone
Avg. Cost Per Treatment$3,500-$6,500$5,000-$10,000$800-$2,400
“Worth It” Rating72%85%38%

About The Author

Articles by

Gary D. Breslow, MD, FACS is a highly regarded board certified plastic surgeon in 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.

Originally from Long Island, New York, Dr. Breslow graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Science degree and received his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine.

Following medical school, Dr. Breslow spent 6 years training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s nationally renowned Integrated Plastic Surgery Residency Program. There he received extensive training in both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery from some of the nation’s top practitioners. After leaving Penn, he returned to NYU Medical Center to spend one year as the Microvascular Reconstructive Fellow at NYU’s prestigious Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Breslow is Board-Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and is licensed to practice plastic and reconstructive surgery in both New Jersey and New York.

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