Background: Most post-pubertal women exhibit cellulite, particularly in the thigh and buttock regions. The prevalence of cellulite has led to many attempts at treatment, including a variety of topical solutions, massage-based therapies, and surgical techniques--most with suboptimal clinical effects. The purpose of this controlled study was to evaluate a novel combination device involving radiofrequency, infrared light, and mechanical tissue manipulation for the treatment of cellulite.
Methods: Twenty adult women (ages 25-57 years) of various skin phototypes (I-V), and with moderate bilateral thigh and buttock cellulite, received eight biweekly treatments to a randomly selected side (the contralateral side serving as a non-treated control). A combined bipolar radiofrequency, infrared light, and mechanical suction-based massage device was applied at 20 watts RF, 20 watts IR (700-1500 nm) light, and 200 millibar vacuum (750 mmHg negative pressure). Patients were evaluated using standardized digital photography and circumferential leg measurements at baseline, prior to each treatment session, and at one, three, and six months after the final treatment. Clinical improvement scores of comparable photographs using a quartile grading scale (0 = or < 25%, 1 = 25%-50%, 2 = 51%-75%, 3 = or >75% improvement) were made independently by two masked medical assessors after the series of treatments. Final post-treatment body weight and patients' subjective evaluations were recorded.
Results: Ninety per cent (18/20) of patients noticed overall clinical improvement, and 17 of these 18 patients reported that they would pursue treatment of the contralateral thigh. Side effects were limited to transient erythema in most patients, and bruising was observed in 2/20 patients after the first couple of treatment sessions, but not as the treatment series progressed. Clinical improvement scores averaged 1.82 (corresponding to approximately 50% improvement) after the series of treatments. Circumferential thigh measurements were reduced by 0.8 cm on the treatment side.
Conclusions: Cellulite can be significantly and safely reduced with the use of a noninvasive device that combines bipolar RF, infrared light, and mechanical massage. The effects of treatment appear to be prolonged, but maintenance treatments may be necessary to further enhance the clinical results achieved.