Hi. I'm 40, very athletic, active and fit (work...
I consulted with Dr. Tina West and her staff and decided to go ahead with the procedure. I had to get some blood tests done beforehand. They prescribed me an anti-biotic to start using before the surgery. They did not suggest arnica to prevent bruising, although this is not a bad idea (too bad I thought of it just now; surgery is tomorrow.) I am quite nervous (about pain, bruising and being able to work out again asap), but hopeful for good results. I'm posting a few "before" pictures. Will post more later this week - hopefully I'll be up for that!
Day of Procedure, Nov. 19, 2013
Then it was time for the actual procedure. I felt nothing. I was totally numb at this point. I felt a little pressure where they were working, and it actually felt like a little massage.
At the end of the procedure, the drained me, and helped me get into my compression garment, which they stuffed with padding. I am squeamish and made a point not to look at my legs, I don't want to see them right now. I came home feeling pretty relaxed and pain-free, and slept for a good 5 hours - probably due to the Valium. It's now evening, and I am thinking I must still be fairly numb because I feel ok. I've taken four Motrin over the last eight hours, that's it. Possibly I'll be sore tomorrow when the numbness wears off. I am wrapped in lots of padding and a hideous compression garment that I have to wear for one week -- that and the inability to do my workout so far has been the worst part.
I'm so glad the procedure is over. We will see how the recovery goes/progresses. More to come!
Day 1 of recovery
Anyway, I have had virtually no pain, just a few random "electric-shock"-like shoots of quick pain here and there, which I'm hoping will pass. It did not seem like I had a lot of drainage, btw. Just a little bit of pinkish drainage on the right side, a bit less on the left. Post-shower, I stuffed my compression garment with new, clean padding in case any more comes out. I cleaned the incisions today with hibiclens in the shower, then acquaphor.
My bruising appears to be really minimal thus far. I mean, it looks like I took a nasty fall while pole-vaulting or something, but it's not that bad. I am, however, super-duper LUMPY (I guess from swelling?) I'm checking with the Dr. to see how long it will take for the swelling to go down, and whether I should be icing.
I was supposed to switch today from a size small to an extra-small compression garment today, however, the XS didn't have a side zip and I think pulling it over the backs of my puffy legs would have hurt. So for now I'm still in the size small, with two pairs of compression running tights on top. Will try the x-small later in the week.
Evening, one day after procedure
Day 2 - recovery going nicely
The doctor's office thinks I'm recovering nicely and normally so far. I'm still bruised but the swelling has gone down a lot. I will resume my daily vitamins, etc tomorrow, and return to work. I am using aquaphor on my incisions 3x day and taking arnica pellets. The doctor said not to use neosporin or any other creams as they may irritate the area.
For compression, I am wearing the jockey size small thigh shapers, a high-tech compression pair of running tights, and the crotchless delight garment the doctor's office gave me, in that order from bottom to top. Under the thigh shapers, I have thin gauze strips with just a little tape to protect the thigh-shaper material from the layer of aquaphor, and to give a little coverage to the still-tender skin.
I have to say, I think my recovery has been fairly smooth because the area that needed treatment was relatively small. I can only imagine that if I had needed to do the front of my legs or my butt, the procedure would have been longer and more uncomfortable, and the healing process would take longer and be a little tougher. As it is now, I have no problems sitting (as long as I'm gentle about it!), using the bathroom, or sleeping in my usual positions. That is making things a lot easier recovery-wise. So be mindful - if you do choose to do different/more body parts, I think the recovery time and process would so reflect.
Eight days later
I had my one week follow up on Monday, Nov. 25. Doc says all is healing normally. The black and blue is still there (but getting better) and I am still quite swollen. It's hard to tell now if there is any real improvement; doc says at 3 months is when I'll see some real results. Thankfully it's winter and I can hide the bruising with pants, leggings and tights.
Day 8- I did sprint and ran today for the first time. I wore the thigh shapers (loving those things, glad I bought three of them!) underneath my workout compression pants. Running felt ok, I am definitely sore still, but at least I was able to properly stretch for the first time since the procedure. I sat on ice packs for 30 minutes later on to negate that swelling that working out tends to cause during the healing process. I still must carefully ease myself into any seated position. The incisions feel tender sometimes but are healing nicely. Will post a few photos shortly.
Two weeks later
My incisions are almost healed. Most of the bruising is gone. I wear the thight shapers every other day because the compression feels good for the soreness. I am still too swollen and don't see any difference yet. I have definitely had a few moments of wondering if this was worth it: the pain, downtime and expense; if i really needed this procedure (especially after looking at recent photos and thinking, "geez, it wassn't that bad at all!", and hoping that I did not make it worse. I am trying to be positive and patient, and looking ahead to great results, hopefully soon! Happy holidays!
Pics at three week mark
The funny thing now is that I feel soreness in new areas. Last week, it felt as if I had pulled my hamstring muscles. This week, I feel the soreness more in my outer thighs/abductors. I'm not sure why the sore spots are moving around - may just be my body healing section by section... Generally, I still feel a bit tender, sore and puffy but that is getting better.
Another "funny" thing is that a friend from the gym saw me in my thigh-shapers in the locker room (darn it, I was trying to hide the fact that I'm wearing them :) ) but she actually thought they look comfy and wondered if they work as a foundation for some of the winter knits/sweater dresses under which it's hard to know what kind of underwear to wear to avoid panty lines. I actually think they would work for exactly that, so maybe these thigh-shapers will have use beyond my recovery and compression needs! (I did not tell her I had cellulaze, just mentioned that I like the compression / support for my hamstrings!)
Here are a few pics - the bruising is I think all gone now on the left leg, but my right side (which had one more incision than the left) is still swollen a bit. I am not sure I really see any improvement yet, it may be too soon.
One month later (well, one month and two days)
As for the way things look, I don't see any real improvement yet. I think it's hard to tell with the discoloration. The skin is a little darker on the back of both legs than it was before. The swelling seems to have improved, particularly on the right leg which is taking longer to heal due to having had more incisions. I still see the dimple on the outside of the right thigh, no real improvement there. As for the left leg, there is a whole section of what I think is cellulite right under my left buttock, atop the thigh, that the doctor did not treat. I did ask her to mark it up the day of the procedure, but I recall she said it was not cellulite. I had had one valium at that point so I don't fully recall everything, but I do think it was cellulite and it's a shame it was not treated. Oh well.
Overall, I am just patiently awaiting the three-month mark when I hope to have some magical improvement show up.
Before & After Collage @ 3 weeks
Jan. 1, 2014 - 6 week update
The worst part of cellulite (on the side of my left upper thigh) was completely untreated and I'm feeling quite devastated about it - it looks even worse now than before. Not sure if that's due to swelling, or because it got moved around as the areas that were treated settle in.
Similarly, maybe it's because some of the treated areas are still healing and "settling" in but my butt, which was always "high & tight" seems to be a bit lower. This could all be simply holiday calories creeping in...but I have never had a problem with weight gain during the holidays, and I have been doing my usual workouts faithfully. We'll see how the healing progresses but it has taken a lot not to cry over this the last few days.
Two months out, not happy
Bad news - (1) I'm still discolored on the back of my legs. (2) The incision marks are darks and ugly. I'm using ambi and maderma now, trying to fade them. (3) My left leg looks worse than before as one major portion was untreated. After feeling disappointed for quite some time, I emailed the doctor about this a few days ago and I'm going in on Tuesday (the day after tomorrow) for her to take a look. I think it was not treated due to an unfortunate series of miscommunications, but it is where the cellulite was the worst; odd sort of that that area would have been left untreated. (4) My rear end feels "loser" - I'm starting to wonder if cutting all those fibers to remove the cellulite also resulted in my muscles not being as supported. I feel a little "sloppier" and not as tight as I did before muscle-wise. Hoping once the healing "finished" and the fibers re-grow, they will be strong and my rear will be lifted again.
We'll see how things progress.
Two Months Out, corrected -[Ignore my spelling errors/typos (i.e. "loser" - should have been "looser") :)]
Bad news - (1) I'm still discolored on the back of my legs. (2) The incision marks are darks and ugly. I'm using ambi and maderma now, trying to fade them. (3) My left leg looks worse than before as one major portion was untreated. After feeling disappointed for quite some time, I emailed the doctor about this a few days ago and I'm going in on Tuesday (the day after tomorrow) for her to take a look. I think it was not treated due to an unfortunate series of miscommunications, but it is where the cellulite was the worst; odd sort of that that area would have been left untreated. (4) My rear end feels "looser" - I'm starting to wonder if cutting all those fibers to remove the cellulite also resulted in my muscles not being as supported. I feel a little "sloppier" and not as tight as I did before muscle-wise. Hoping once the healing "finished" and the fibers re-grow, they will be strong and my rear will be lifted again. We’ll see how things progress.
Follow up appointment update, Jan. 23, 2014 (delayed due to snow storm) - 9 weeks
As for the incisions, the doc was kind enough to give me a few laser pulse "zaps" to help fade the scars. They look like little welts now, like min-mosquito bites, but I think it will get better quickly and will help. Will post more photos soon.
Over all, I feel very relieved, and I left the appointment feeling hopeful that more healing and progress is still to come.
Three Months Out - cellulite looks a little better, I think.
As for cellulite improvement, I'm not sure I see a LOT of improvement, but I do see a little. The dimple on my right leg is *almost* gone; it's not as deep as it was before. My right leg is generally smoother. So some improvement there. My left leg appears to be a little smoother than it was even at the two month mark, but I still have lumpiness on the area that I was not certain had been treated. It may continue to improve, I'm not sure, and frankly, it's getting hard for me to tell whether there is any major improvement.
I think it's too soon to say it was "worth it," but I will do another update in a few months - and I promise it will be with a camera better than my 5-year old iphone. :)
Progress Photos - Two and half months out ; three and half months out.
Four months later... Some improvement, but not sure it was worth it.
That aside, I've posted some pictures (with my infamous crappy iphone) from today, just three days shy of the FOUR month mark. You can see there is some smoothness and improvement, but I can't yet articulate a final percentage on it. My husband thinks I look pretty much the same - although he never complained about my body to begin with and always thought I looked fine; I think I'll keep him. :) It's fair to say, right now, I have about 50% less cellulite than before; but having started with minimal cellulite and maybe expecting perfection, I hope you can understand why there is slight - but not major - disappointment.
In person, with my own eyes, I see that the dimple on my right leg is just barely noticeable (it used to be very noticeable) and there is definite overall improvement on my right leg. The left leg is harder to see improvement on, mainly due to that area that appears to have been untreated that is still lumpy. However, I do think there is some improvement and my skin appears smoother overall, especially on the back of my left leg under my butt.
The discoloration, believe it or not, is not 100% gone. I'd say I've got about 2-3% discoloration left. By discoloration, I mean areas on the skin that are browner, more purple, or redder than the rest of the skin around it. It is really taking forever for my skin color to go back to just one color but fortunately I doubt anyone would notice this but me. I am heading to Miami this weekend, and hopefully a little tan with help take care of that!
The incision holes are still pretty dark but getting smaller week by week. Ambi, maderma, and strategic use of sunscreen in Miami this weekend will hopefully even out a bit of that darkness as well. I am a slow healer and easy bruiser, so these issues with discoloration and the incision holes are not a surprise to me.
As for how I feel, fantastic. Thankfully I have no tingling or numbness or floppiness issues at all, just a little in the beginning but now I feel totally normal. No tightness in the skin or weird veins or anything - thank goodness. I ran a half marathon yesterday and it was a personal best for me for a half. I was concerned before that my butt had "lowered" a little post surgery, but I did not do cellulaze there, and I'm not sure any connective tissue from my thighs that may have been supporting my butt were impacted. I just don't know. It seriously could be b/c I'm getting older and gravity is having its way with me. I'll just adjust my workouts and work on bubbling it back up. I am ok with it (i.e. not obsessing over it anymore). But anyway, for those of you dealing with floppiness, tightness, or tingling issues, please have faith that it will go away and that we all heal at our own pace. And please ask your doctors for options if you are frustrated.
So far, was it worth the $4400? Assuming you're not a millionaire** and are just a normal person on a budget (like me), I'm not sure it was for just 50% improvement. At this time, I would recommend that people like me, who are fit and overall healthy with minimal cellulite to start with, skip cellulaze. I say this because when the cellulite is minimal to begin, for $4000 or $5000 - which is a good chunk of money - you want it to be perfect, not just barely half-way better. I think people with more cellulite to begin with are more likely to achieve a reduction that brings them down to having minimal cellulite, and thus will truly see a benefit and "feel" that it was worth it.
**If you are fortunate and blessed to (a) be a millionaire, and (b) have minimal to almost no cellulite, and you want to give this a shot, hell, go for it!
Ok, so here are today's four-month-mark photos.
Happy healing, everyone!
Before & After
Dr. West and her entire staff are very pleasant and professional. I felt like they care about me as a person and a patient. They were very responsive (especially Tracy, she is awesome) to all my many questions and concerns. They even offered to re-touch the spot I feel does not show any results if after some more time passes, I'm still not happy. Dr. West is also is very adept at the procedure. I felt like I was in very good hands, and did not feel at all that she was "too rough" or anything with the laser; the actual laser use seemed to go smoothly, no pun intended. I would recommend Dr. West.