I Had Cellulaze - Twice! - Scottsdale, AZ

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*Treatment results may vary

Although I've always been very slender (size 0/2)...

Although I've always been very slender (size 0/2) and blessed with a pretty figure, I've also been cursed with cellulite on the back of my thighs and on my buttocks since puberty. It worsened with age and by the time I reached 50, I never wanted anyone (including my husband!) to see me from behind. Since I live in Arizona, this is especially problematic - it's hot half the year so you wear skin-baring clothing. We have a lovely swimming pool in our backyard yet I never wanted to put on a bathing suit unless I was taking a solo dip, because I didn't want anyone to see my cellulite. I hated looking in dressing room mirrors which just seemed to spotlight the dimples. And forget about shorts - I always wore Capris instead.

When I first heard about the Cellulaze procedure I got so excited! I started researching like crazy and found a reputable local plastic surgeon who offered the procedure. I went to an evening presentation on Cellulite at his office. It was intriguing and I signed up immediately.

I had my first procedure in July 2012, to the backs and sides of my thighs. Then in April 2013 I went back and did my butt-cheeks. Total money spent was $11,000 so it did not come cheap!

For me, both times, the procedure itself was a cinch. The first time, they gave me two Valium and two Percocet. I'm a lightweight, so that knocked me out. The surgeon had me stand up to mark the areas he would treat, and I vaguely recall his nurse trying to help me stay standing because I was so out of it. I don't remember anything about the first procedure. Just waking up, being driven home and sleeping the rest of the day.

The second time, I was given two Valium but just one Percocet and I was awake the entire time,, but kinda "floaty." I remember it all from being marked to being photographed to being on the surgical table. It didn't hurt at all. Just some tugging sensation.

At home I'd prepped my bed in advance so I'd be all set immediately after the procedure, which helped because I just wanted to sleep since i was coming off the meds. i bought some doggy wee-wee pads to use as liner to lay on, to absorb any leakage. The first time, I only had a little leakage. The second time I had much more, tinged with blood, but that's normal so I didn't worry about it. I wasn't in any pain after either procedure - just soreness, kinda like a really brutal workout. Both times I stayed in bed on Day One but by Day Two I was up and about the house. I have three dogs that I walk daily, and it helped to have my husband walk them for me for the first few days. After that I was fine to walk, at a slow pace the first week, building to a brisker pace a week or so later.

They put me in a compression garment that I wore 24/7. The first time, the nurse put me in a size Medium and I could tell right away that it was too big - it just didn't feel snug and I was worried how this could negatively impact my final surgery results. When I called the nurse to let her know, she insisted it was fine and that "they're not supposed to be that tight anyway." I ended up going online and ordering a size Small from Merena, which fit perfectly and felt much better - you want snug compression because it gives relief from soreness. Ordering an extra garment cost almost a hundred bucks that I wasn't thrilled to spend, but it was so helpful to have two garments so you can still be wearing one when you wash the other.

The second time around I had a different - and much nicer - nurse. She put me in a size Small from the get-go and was astonished that the other nurse had put me in a Medium. Made me wonder if I'd been given a Medium the first time because that's what size happened to be in stock. Be sure to quiz your doctor and/or physician's assistant in advance to determine what is the proper garment size for you.

A little more on the compression garment: most doctors claim that you'll only need to wear it 24/7 for a few weeks, then switch to a second stage garment. I ordered a pair of Spanx but still preferred wearing my garment 24/7 for a couple of months. (Yes girls, I'm sorry to say, but months.) In total, I wore it 24/7 for six weeks, then I wore Spanx by day and the garment at night for another six weeks. Yes it's a drag but you get used to it. Trust me, you will WANT to wear your garment because it feels so much better to have it on. Really aches without it; the sensation is hard to describe. It feels like your skin is separated and hanging from your body...which I guess it actually is! By Week 12, you'll be done. Then it takes another six weeks to really see your results.

Don't panic if at first you don't see much of a difference - it takes time and your body will be bruised and has to heal. Then the collagen in your skin will thicken and it will just keep looking better and better.

As far as my own results, Cellulaze has made a huge difference! I do still have a little cellulite but nowhere near what I had before. Of course when you fork over that kind of money, you want zero cellulite, and I'm sure some people get that result. Probably depends on how severe it is to begin with and in my case, it was just gross; I hated it. Now I can wear a bikini without feeling self-conscious and I can view my own backside in a mirror without cringing!

This winter I am scheduled to go in for a third procedure to the backs of my arms, which are just starting to dimple (yuk). I have to wait until the winter months to do my arms because its summer now and it would be extremely difficult to "hide" the compression garments. One thing that seems odd to me is that my surgeon quoted me $6,000 to do my arms, which is more $$ than it was to do my thighs or buttocks even though it's a much smaller area. Maybe doing the arms is trickier? I need to ask why.

Although I had no real "pain" either time, I did experience intense itching during the long healing process. At times the itch was maddening, but I discovered that scratching made it worse so I tried to ignore it by soaking in the tub with bath salts.

I really liked my surgeon (and I liked the second nurse, but not Nurse Ratchet who was almost nasty about the incorrect garment size and who, I'm happy to report, no longer works there), and highly recommend him for the procedure. He knows what he's doing and he was kind and helped me not feel self-conscious or "bad" for having Cellulite. It's genetics, not weight or even fitness.
Cellulaze is expensive with a looong healing process but worth it! Now I just pray the results last. The doctors can't say it's permanent because they haven't been doing it long enough to really know. Fingers crossed!

Possible permanent skin discoloration post-Cellulaze

So it's been two years since I had Cellulaze. Some dimples have returned but it's still better than it was before I had the procedure. There is a trade-off however: I have some blotchy skin discoloration in some of the areas where I was treated. At first I thought it was just broken capillaries or deep residual bruising that would go away in time. But it doesn't improve or go away so I'm going to go see Dr. Shapiro to ask if IPL treatment or hydroquinone would help.

I've been researching on the net and this is not an uncommon side effect, though for most people it resolves I time. I'm a little concerned I may have what's called Erythema Ab Liporaspiration which is: "a permanent blotchy (net-like pattern) pink-brown discoloration of the skin resulting from rasping the undersurface of the skin during superficial liposuction or Cellulaze. Inadvertent or intentional rasping of the undersurface of the skin will injure the superficial vascular network. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this chronic discoloration. It does not seem to improve with time." We'll see what Dr. S. thinks...

Almost 3 Years Post-Celluaze and still have skin discoloration...

I just kept thinking it would eventually resolve, but it didn't. Here are some photos so you can see what the discoloration looks like...

Just had IPL to my butt cheeks to eradicate blotchy red staining...

So far I see ZERO difference but I think it's going to take a series of IPL, not just one time. Keep you posted...
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
3 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
3 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
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