I have a photo of myself from when I was 15. I was stick skinny and wearing a white bikini — and you can see cellulite on my butt and the backs of my thighs. (If I had any idea where said photo was, I would share it.) Over the years I’ve tried numerous things to get rid of it: creams (worthless) and velashape (time-consuming and worked while I was getting it done, but the cellulite reappeared about a month after I stopped.) Along the way I gave up and tried my best not to let the bumps bother me.
Flash forward a decade or two to 2012. I was excited when I first heard about Cellulaze, a treatment using a laser which won FDA clearance for treating the appearance of cellulite for one year or more. But then less so when the reviews started coming in.
Then Cellfina hit the market and I got really excited. The in-office, minimally invasive procedure uses a small knife to cut the fibrous septae bands that cause cellulite dimples. It currently has FDA approval for improving the appearance of cellulite for two years and I hear that the three year data is strong.
Sign me up!
I was lucky enough to get Cellfina by Dr. Deanne Robinson of the Connecticut Dermatology Group. She served as one of the lead investigators in the FDA clearance trial for Cellfina. While at other doctor’s offices you may get the treatment from a physician’s assistant, Dr. Robinson likes to do them herself as she is passionate about cellulite and likes helping women to feel better about their bodies. She hasn’t had the procedure herself, because she hasn’t had the time, but says she has had cellulite for years, even when she was in college and dancing five days a week.
The first part of the treatment is identifying the exact cellulite dimples to be treated, which is actually harder than it sounds. I stood in front of a mirror wearing paper thong panties while Dr. Robinson and her two nurses and myself scrutinized my butt and thighs for dimples, circling them with a blue Sharpie, in a moment that brought to mind sorority hell weeks. We looked at photos of my bum and I turned around to various angles to make sure we didn’t miss any dimples. We identified about 20 spots in total.
The potentially awkward moment was made easier by Dr. Robinson and her staff, who were lovely. I also have a self-awareness about my cellulite. I know it’s there–as I assume anyone who signs up for a Cellfina treatment does. That said, I am glad I was with women for this part as I’m sure I would find it more uncomfortable with a man.
Then, it was off to the treatment room. I laid face down on the examining table while Dr. Robinson and her staff went to work. I was injected about 10 times with a mix of lidocaine and tumescent fluid. Dr. Robinson like to do more injections and use more fluid, because “I like to use a little extra numbing just to ensure the areas are completely numb. Sometimes if there are a few dimples in the same area and fit into one treatment window, one dimple can be ‘on the edge’ or towards the periphery and not get as numb as the ones that are more central. So, I will numb the ones on the edge with another treatment window of suction to make sure they are fully anesthetized.”
Some of the injections were moderately painful–about a 2-3 on the pain scale for me and I would equate it with getting a novocain shot in my gums. I asked to stop in between my right and left sides so I could catch my breath and drink a glass of water. The process took about 45 minutes in all and this was the only painful part.
Then it was on to the snipping Cellfina uses a disk to suction you skin and fat so it’s easier to cut. Then the knife goes to work. I asked if it was like a chainsaw, Dr. Robinson said no, it’s more like an electric turkey carving knife. At this point, I couldn’t feel a thing. Watch the video I took below of my own thigh to see it in action.
Finally, it was time to get bandaged. The nurses had me roll around on my butt to get the fluid out first. There was a lot of it, mostly clear and tinged with blood. (Again, Dr. Robinson uses a lot of fluid, so your experience may be different). Then the nurses taped large bandages all over my butt and thighs, placing Aquaphor-covered gauze over individual injection sites first. They then helped me into my own Spanx, which I had been asked to bring ahead of time and was told to wear for the next 24 hours.
I felt fine immediately afterward–a little sore, but not even as much as if I had done a hardcore workout. I wound up taking my bandages off that night because they were wet and uncomfortable. My husband was supposed to help me replace them using the supplies the doctor’s office had given me, but he fell asleep early after putting our 2-year old to sleep and I couldn’t do it myself. I put on a clean dry pair of Spanx and slept on top of a towel.
The next day I was a little swollen and bruised. When I finally did take a shower after 24 hours, the injection sites stung a little, but nothing to complain about.
My Results with Cellfina
Three days out, I kept dropping my pants and looking in the mirror (Luckily I work at home.) I’m really impressed with the improvement already! Much of my cellulite is gone!!! My husband agrees that it’s an impressive improvement. I feel so much better not having the cellulite, even if my butt is not as smooth as a supermodel’s, which leads us to…
What Cellfina Can’t do…
Cellfina can’t be used on all cellulite. Specifically, it only has clearance for your butt and thighs. It doesn’t work on your stomach or other areas. I know sometimes doctors will use things off label, meaning for other purposes than its specific FDA-approval, but no, Dr. Robinson says it really won’t work on other areas.
It also won’t work on horizontal bands of cellulite, which is why my butt isn’t now perfectly smooth (well, one of the reasons). Turns out the horizontal ridges are more a function of skin folding and not true dimples, explains Dr. Robinson, so they do not have a fibrous band pulling them down or tethering, them so the release is not helpful.
A few of my dimples are most definitely improved, yet still noticeable. It’s important to remember that Cellfina improves the appearance of cellulite, it doesn’t make it disappear, much like your favorite anti-aging cream and wrinkles.
But all that said, I can’t wait to rock a bikini next summer!!
The Nitty Gritty of Cellfina
I had to take an antibiotic twice a day starting the day before surgery and then for a full week to prevent infections.
Cellfina works in one treatment which can cost $2,000 to $5,000 depending on where you live.
Want to find a doc near you? Head over to Cellfina.com.
I’m happy to answer any specific questions you might have, so ask away!