We can’t all have a cellulite-free body, but we can sure as heck try! While traditionally seen as an indicator of obesity, cellulite is a condition that happens to virtually everyone, even the skinniest of supermodels. It typically isn’t a health concern — but in our pursuit of the ideal self we generally don’t accept this as a natural flaw. Common remedies include liposuction, healing massages, lotions, and even special jeans! But the most recent promising technology are heated lasers.
VelaShape™ is a relatively new technology designed to literally burn fat from your body — but despite a common misconception (and crafty marketing) and our perpetual desire to belief in things that are too good to be true, it won’t actually make you lose weight or look toned. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work on your cellulite.
Cellulite: That Orange Peel Skin on So Many of Our Thighs
For any woman (or man) who has scrounged the Internet for cellulite quick-fixes and causes, you know that cellulite is a symptom of unevenly distributed weight, usually in the thigh/hip/abdomen area, though it can also be found in the breasts and calves. More accurately, cellulite is when connective tissue on your skin and muscle is strained and jostled around by increasing amount of fat cells, resulting in the well-known and much-hated “cottage cheese” look. However, this doesn’t always point to obesity — cellulite may develop as we grow, our body growing too quickly to have time to distribute things evenly.
Cellulite is found in eight out of 10 women, typically because women’s bodies store more fat than men’s for both childbearing and evolutionary reasons. Yet, as we age, both men and women are more susceptible to cellulite as metabolisms and muscles degenerate, and skin loses some of its flexibility. Worse yet, high-stress lifestyles (including stress over body appearances!) are often correlated with cellulite because stress can cause hormonal imbalances in the body and over-eating/unhealthy cravings in some individuals (The Mayo Clinic).
The Radiofrequency Laser: Cellulite Shrinker
Radiofrequency lasers feature a form of electrical energy waves (radiofrequency waves) that are easily absorbed by the body, making them a newly valued candidate in the medical and cosmetic surgeries. They work by sending low frequency waves through your skin cells, which cause a sort of friction that makes them grow warmer and subsequently shrink. In treatments like VelaShape, these types of lasers will gradually shrink the connective tissue between your skin and muscle, giving the fat cells a less constricted area in which to disperse themselves. Additionally, you connective tissue is full of collagen (which is responsible for skin elasticity), which quickly collapses when met with extreme heat (Refractec.com).
Research by Fazeli, Berlin and Goldberg found that radiofrequencies lasers do work in reducing cellulite and waist/hip circumference. After giving their 30 test subjects treatments once every other week for six weeks, the investigators found that 90 percent of the subjects reported a noticeable decrease in cellulite and lost approximately an inch in circumference. Changes were measured using before-and-after photographs and a tape measure. Additionally, patients did not report any skin discoloration or scarring after the treatment, only mild irritation for a few hours afterward.
However, the researchers did not measure any considerable changes in the subjects’ weight or blood lipids, meaning that this doesn’t necessarily improve healthy, just appearance.
VelaShape™: What is it?
VelaShape offers its patients four once-a-week treatments using a combination of radiofrequency waves, infrared light, suctioning, and massages. An improvement on the VelaSmooth™ procedure, VelaShape™ is alleged to work better by offering 50 watts of energy (as opposed to 20), which better targets the tissues in questions and reduces the amount of treatments necessary (each one lasts about 20 minutes). Plus, it offers something called “elos,” which is “electrical-optical synergy” — basically these are waves of light and electrical energy that, like the radiofrequency laser, will slowly collapse connective tissue, but concentrate only on the selected area. Patients should know that VelaShape™ is suitable for all body shapes and colors; however, it is recommended only for patients who are fifty pounds overweight or less (Aesthetic Buyers’ Guide).
If you seek a VelaShape™ treatment, here is what you should expect: your doctor will rub you with a handheld massager (that resembles a clothes iron) that will send out radiofrequency waves into your selected area. The massager has rollers which will smooth the skin while ensuring a consistent delivery of the waves, and providing a calming sensation to the patient. The procedure will last about 20 minutes, and mild inflammation will last for about two to three hours after finishing.
So Does VelaShape™ Work?
Sadick and Mulholland conducted a cellulite-study using 35 female patients to test the efficacy of VelaSmooth™ — which was an earlier version of the VelaShape™ procedure — on their thighs and buttocks. The subjects were given two treatments a week, with totals ranging from eight to 16 for the duration of the study — it is important to note that the women changed nothing about their diet or lifestyle while receiving treatment.
After four weeks, the investigators analyzed the changes with photographs, and also took skin biopsies from three patients. Within eight weeks, 100 percent of patients were shown (with photographs and testimonials) to have improved skin texture and reduced cellulite. Seventy percent (about 25) of the subjects reported changes in circumference and texture within four weeks, with 0.8 inches being the average loss (though some reported up to two inches). In all, the investigators reported few complications and side-effects after using the VelaSmooth™, and there is a very short recovery time — patients should be able to return to their regular activities within a few hours.
Unfortunately, it’s not permanent. Those who’ve had VelaShape report that they had cellulite again after about six months.
The Bottom Line
As the only FDA cellulite treatment (check out FutureDerm’s Best Cellulite Treatments), VelaShape™ certainly provides a tempting offer to those many of us with cellulite on our bottoms, thighs, or abdomen. However it’s not a quick fix — many patients have reported reappearance of cellulite, or new cellulite, around six months after treatment. There are no short-term or long-term effects associated with VelaShape™, though that does not mean that this is a perfectly safe procedure to have — little research has been done on it. If you have a few unsightly bumps that you need smoothed out, you might want to give VelaShape™ a try — but don’t expect to be magically toned and smooth forever.
Post by Taylor Barbieri
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