A double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial evaluating the ability of low-level laser therapy to improve the appearance of cellulite

Lasers Surg Med. 2013 Mar;45(3):141-7. doi: 10.1002/lsm.22119.


Background and objective: Cellulite is present in 90% of post-adolescent women. Several technologies have been developed for treating cellulite; however, they all involve some degree of massage or mechanical manipulation. The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a low-level laser light device employing green 532 nm diodes as a stand-alone procedure without massage or mechanical manipulation for improving the appearance of cellulite in the thighs and buttocks.

Study design/materials and methods: This double-blind study randomized subjects to undergo treatment with the LLLT device (N = 34) or sham treatment (N = 34). During a 2-week treatment phase, each subject received three weekly treatment sessions 2-3 days apart. During each session, the front and back of the hips, thighs, and waist were exposed for 15 minutes (30 minutes total).

Results: Nineteen subjects in the LLLT group achieved a decrease of one or more stages on the Nurnberger-Muller grading scale (55.88%) versus three subjects (8.82%) in the sham-treated group (P < 0.0001). Two LLLT-treated subjects achieved 2-stage improvements on the Nurnberger-Muller Scale at the 2-week study endpoint and four did at the 6-week follow-up evaluation versus none of the sham-treated subjects at either time point. Subjects treated with LLLT achieved a significant decrease in combined baseline thigh circumference at the 2-week study endpoint and 6-week follow-up evaluation (for each, p < 0.0001 vs. baseline) versus no change for sham-treated subjects. LLLT-treated subjects also showed significant decreases in mean baseline body weight (P < 0.0005), BMI (P < 0.001), and percent BSA affected by cellulite (P < 0.0005) versus no change for any parameter among sham-treated subjects. Most LLLT-treated subjects (62.1%) were Very Satisfied or Somewhat Satisfied with the improvement in cellulite they received versus 25.8% of sham-treated subjects. There were no reports of adverse events.

Conclusions: Low-level laser therapy using green 532 nm diodes is safe and effective for improving the appearance of cellulite in the thighs and buttocks. In contrast with other technologies, LLLT is effective as a stand-alone procedure without requiring massage or mechanical manipulation. Future studies will assess the long-term benefits of LLLT for the treatment of cellulite.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / radiation effects*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Buttocks
  • Cosmetic Techniques* / instrumentation
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lasers, Semiconductor / therapeutic use*
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / radiotherapy*
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data
  • Thigh
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult