Non-Surgical vs Surgical Treatments For Cellulite

Causes and risk factors for cellulite

  • It is not known what exactly causes cellulite, but it appears to be the result of an interaction between the connective tissue, in the dermal layer, and the fatty layer just below it.
  • In women, the fat cells and connective tissue in the dermis are arranged vertically whereas in men they are arranged in a criss-cross pattern – might explain why men are less likely to get cellulite.
  • When the fat cells protrude into the layer of skin above it, it gives the appearance of cellulite, also known as “orange-peel” skin.

Hormonal factors and age

  • Hormones such as oestrogen, insulin, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones, and prolactin have been linked to the development of cellulite.
  • Lower circulation means less oxygen in the area, resulting in lower collagen Fat cells also enlargeas oestrogen levels fall.
  • These factors combine to makes the fat deposits more visible. As the fat under the skin protrudes through weakening connective tissue, the familiar dimpling effect results.
  • Age also causes the skin to become less elastic, thinner, and more likely to sag. This increases the chanceof cellulite developing.

Genetic factors

  • Certain genes are required for cellulite development. Genetic factors can be linked to an individual’s metabolism speed, fat distribution under the skin, ethnicity, and circulatory levels. These factors can affect the chance of cellulite development.

Dietary and lifestyle factors

  • Contrary to belief, cellulite is not caused by toxins in the body, although a healthy lifestyle may help reduce the occurrence.
  • Exercise and a healthy diet may help reduce the appearance of cellulite and reoccurrence.
  • Eating too much fat, carbohydrates, salt and too little fibre are also likely to contribute to the development of cellulite.
  • Other risk factors include smoking, little exercise, standing or sitting in one position for long periods of time.
  • Wearing tight underwear or clothing can decrease bodily blood flow, contributing to the formation of cellulite.

Grades of cellulite

  • Grade 1 or mild cellulite: This has an "orange-peel" appearance, with very few superficial depressions with a slight sagging appearance to the skin.
  • Grade 2 or moderate cellulite: There are more noticeable depressions and the skin appears more lose with a general dimpled appearance
  • Grade 3 or severe cellulite: The skin has a mattress-like appearance, with many deep depressions creating a severely dimpled skin appearance.

What does Dermology offer for cellulite reduction?

We have two options available for cellulite reduction:

  • Tripollar
  • Laser Lipo

Tripollar – Non-invasive cellulite reduction

TriPollar has overcome the previous limitations of mono-polar and bi-polar technologies. TriPollar is a third generation technology which delivers visible body contouring results without surgery or downtime.

How does TriPollar work?

TriPollar technology is a third generation technology which painlessly and effortlessly delivers optimal radio frequency energy through the skins surface into the subcutaneous fat layers. Controlled energy is delivered by several electrodes and limited to the area being treated. For best results a series of treatments are recommended.

Superior third Generation Technology compared to first and second generation technologies

First generation mono-polar radio frequency and second generation bi-polar radio frequency technologies are not focused  required much higher energy for desired results to be achieved.  The skin directly below the electrodes absorbed all the generated heat, causing pain and higher risk of burns and skin damage. These older technologies required cooling mechanisms to minimise risks, which resulted in less efficient heating of the skin layers.

Fat reduction

The internal heat produced by the radio frequency energy causes the acceleration of metabolism and causes fat cells to shrink. The rise in temperature forces fat cells to release fatty acids, which are excreted through the blood and lymphatic systems. The desired results are then a reduction of fat and body circumference and diminished cellulite appearance.

Laser Liposuction – Surgical fat removal and body contouring

Laser Lipo is very similar to conventional liposuction except that it has many more pro’s than cons’. The two procedures are similar in that they are both surgical procedures whereby an incision is made for the excess fat to be removed from the body. Laser lipo has unique pro’s in that the down-time is significantly less, bruising and pain after the procedure is much less and there is no additional theatre or over-night charges.

How Does Laser Lipo/ Liposuction Work?

Prior to the laser lipo procedure, the patient has to undego an initial consultation and examination with our doctor, Dr. Antoinette Du Toit.

Once the patient goals are determined and agreed upon by the doctor, local anaesthetic is used to numb the area that is to be treated. Once the area is fully numb, a cannula, which is a small and slender tube, is inserted via a small incision to allow the laser access to the fat cells. Heat from the laser causes the fat to soften and liquefy and this liquefied fat is then suctioned out, giving the desired results.

The heat emitted by the laser does a lot more than melt away fat; the heat also assists in skin tightening and smoothing the. After the laser liposuction treatment has been performed, our doctor advises the patient on how to properly care for the area over the next few weeks.

When can I Resume Normal Activity After Laser Liposuction?

Most patients can continue with their regular activities within a few days after their laser liposuction procedure. Each patient is unique and recovery times will vary from person to person. Many patients find the recovery is bearable with mild, if any, side effects from the liposuction treatment.

Is the Fat Removal Permanent?

The specific fat cells removed during liposuction will not reoccur, but the body could redevelop fat cells if a healthy diet and exercise routine are not followed. To maintain a healthy body weight and appearance, a regular fitness routine and a healthy diet is highly recommended.

How Many Sessions of Laser Lipo do I Need?

Usually only one session is laser liposuction is needed. The patient and the physician can discuss if another treatment is necessary as every patient’s goals are different. Laser lipo has become a popular choice for patients since it allows for both the removal of excess fat cells in localized areas and the tightening of the skin.

Alternative solutions

  • Supplemental therapies include caffeine, grape seed extract, or gingko biloba. These agents can be used topically, orally, and by injection, but none of them have been scientifically proven.
  • Compression garments may assist in reducing the appearance of cellulite. These garments are specially designed to compress arteries and increase blood and lymph flow to reduce visible cellulite.
  • However, reducing fat will mean having less fat to push through the tissues. Eating a healthful, balanced diet and exercising may, therefore, reduce the appearance of cellulite.


+27 76 424-8809
Building 3
Rivonia Office Park
150 Rivonia Road


+27 72 817-8160
3 New Eskdale Street
Western Cape


+27 72 094-1673
107 George Storrar Drive
Whitelies Aesthetics


+27 64 803-2300
Izulu Office Park
Rey's Place
Block A 102


Dermology’s goal is to produce the best results possible for all our patients, however, everyone is different. Responsiveness to procedures, protocols or ingredients may vary from person to person. Consultation are compulsory.