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Weight Loss Wednesday: Program irons out cellulite for some

It's a condition that women have unsuccessfully tried to get rid of with supplements,body scrubs and creams.

NEW ORLEANS - It's a condition that women have unsuccessfully tried to get rid of with supplements,body scrubs and creams.

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So can the latest machine and prescription cream on the market really help when it comes to cellulite?

As a former lingerie model, Cynthia Miller takes good care of herself. At 52, she works out and eats right but still something was bothering her.

'I have been a practicing dental hygienist for 21 years and sitting for a living has given me what I have refereed to as 'dimpled dental derriere,' ' Miller said.

So she turned to Surgeon Dr. Penelope Treece to try an external procedure for cellulite that causes no pain with no downtime.

'It is shrinking in circumference definitely,' Miller said of her thigh. 'Definitely, yes and another part of my body also.'< /p>

What Cynthia tried is the VelaShape machine that uses infrared light, massage therapy and radio frequency to help smooth out cellulite. Treece said it shrinks the circumference of the area by breaking down fat cells and tightening the skin. All Cynthia feels during treatments is a heating sensation.

'Nothing gets rid of cellulite,' Treece said. 'It does make it better like any light based therapy. Like most lasers the results you get be highly variable from one patient to the other.I found that it works best when we do it after laser liposuctioning.'< /p>

And that's the downside of VelaShape. Some patients really notice the difference, others don't.

'We had two sisters come in,two years apart (in age),similar genetics. One did great, the other one's like 'ooh why amI the bad sister,'' Treece said.

Other doctors agree with Treece. The VelaShape can help, but it's nowhere near a cure.

'There's been a number of devices similar to this on the market place in the lastfive orsix years. I think what we have to say about all of the devices is that they will give you some modest appreciable improvement,' said Metairie Dermatologist Dr. Patricia Farris.

'The VelaSmooth technology is probably the best we've seen so far, but all in all, it's still been very disappointing because the results are only after a number of treatments and the maintenance is extreme,' said New Orleans Dermatologist Dr. Mary Lupo.

Patients havesix initial treatments, then monthly maintenance.

'It's like anything else in life,you can't go to the gym once a week and have a six pack. You can't go to the dentist once everysix years and have nice teeth. It's maintenance like anything else,' Treece said.

But along with machines like VelaShape that can help some people,there are things that doctors say we do to make cellulite worse.

'If you're a heavy smoker, if you don't eat right, if you gain weight, if you're in the sun too much, all of the things that can break down the collagen and elastin in your skin can makes the appearance of cellulite look worse,' Treece warns.

So anything that destroys collagen, such as the sun or tanning beds, makes cellulite worse and anything that boosts collagen, such as prescription retinoids, will make cellulite better.

'Anything that would build collagen might make your cellulite look better. Again, are you going to get 100 percent improvement, of course not.Might you get 10 percent or 15 percent improvement in the appearance? I think you probably can,' Farris said.

Remember, weight lifting to build up muscle under the tissue can help smooth it out. In your diet, go for more water. And fruits and vegetables have antioxidants that boost collagen.A good cardio exercise program can reduce weight. Drinking things with caffeine, such as coffee and soft drinks, can dehydrate you and make cellulite look worse.

'Cellulite is a complicated problem because we do not totally understand what causes cellulite.It is a uniquely female problem so there has to be some estrogenic component to cellulite. Overweight men do not have it, whereas even sometimes very thin women can have cellulite. It does tend to be strongly inherited so there is a genetic component as well,' said Dr. Farris.

Cellulite is the result of bands that connect the upper layers of tissue to the lower ones. Doctors who cut them during liposuction surgery say many end up growing back and liposuction can make cellulite worse in some patients. But for now VelaShape is all doctor's have and they say it is safe.

'For patients who are highly motivated, I think these are a reasonable things to try,' Farris said. 'I try not to over sell the benefits of any of these because if you look at the studies, again you're going to see modest appreciable improvements.'

According to the company that makes VelaShape,it is the only FDA cleared device that effectively and safely contours, shapes and slims the body by reducing cellulite and firming problem areas in as little as 4 treatments.

There are six clinics with VelaShape machines in the Greater New Orleans Area. The cost is $800 for sixtreatments in each area of the body.

Editor's note: Dr. Patricia Farris is no relation to Medical reporter Meg Farris.

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