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Transformation Special Series

The new cellulite fix that changed my bum

The latest cellulite fix is a surgical technique called Cellfina that literally carves out cellulite – Nikki Harris tried it at the Sthetix clinic in Liverpool with astounding results and beauty expert Alice Hart-Davis interviews Nikki’s surgeon Dr Tiago Guimaraes about the treatment

‘I was one of those unfortunate people who noticed my cellulite years before it even had a name. I know cellulite isn’t something that only affects me, but I’m convinced I got mine a little earlier than most women.

‘I was only 16, but already my thighs were lumpy, like fresh dough that someone had stuck their fingers in. All the smoothness was gone. I remember looking at my thighs, noticing the dimples, and thinking ‘What is that? Why do my thighs look so weird?’ I just couldn’t understand what it was, but it was everywhere.

I started kickboxing, I swam. I did soup diets, juice diets. I even tried an all-cabbage diet.

‘I didn’t understand, I hadn’t gained weight or anything. I was a very sporty teenager; on the netball team and the athletics team. So, I was horrified. None of my friends had the same problem, and if they did it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as mine. From that moment on I guess you could say I was obsessed. Looking at other women’s thighs, I would always wonder why mine had to look so different.

‘It wasn’t until several years later, when I was in my 20s that all the articles started coming out. ‘Do you have cellulite?’ And that’s when the penny finally dropped. It was also when all the ‘treatments’ started coming out.

An estimated 93 percent of women experience varying degrees of cellulite

Trying every cellulite fix I could find

‘I must have spent thousands and thousands of pounds on treatments that got me nowhere. I’ve bought massage mitts and weird little brushes that I would sit down and massage my legs with.

‘I visited spas and bathed in special salts that I would then buy more of to take home. I tried countless oils, cellulite creams and lotions from every retailer you can think of from Clarins to Boots.

‘I tried exercise too, I was always a sporty teenager; on the netball team and the athletics team, and I’ve kept that up as an adult, partly because I hoped that it would help. I ran, I started kickboxing, I swam. I did all sorts of silly diets; soup diets, juice diets, anything you can imagine. I even tried an all-cabbage diet.

‘By the time I got to my 40’s I just thought ‘well, I’ve tried everything’. Nothing was working for me. By then, I was so self-conscious, especially around other women, that I had started avoiding things. I never wore skirts; I never wore shorts, because I was too afraid that someone would see it.

‘I don’t think anyone would have noticed as much as I did or even cared, but after a while you just become obsessed. I put off holidays, I avoided any activities if it meant people might see my legs. I stopped swimming.

Finding a real solution for my cellulite

‘I first came across Cellfina because someone at my office had been Googling it. I was sceptical at first as so many treatments had let me down before. But I just thought, ‘well why not?’ after all, I’d tried everything else. This looked like something different, and I decided to give it a go.

‘I did some of my own research and then arranged to speak to someone at the clinic where they showed me the before and after pictures. I was convinced enough to at least book a full consultation, which wasn’t too bad, I just had to strip down to my t-shirt and pants so that they could asses how bad my cellulite actually was.

How new cellulite fix Cellfina works

‘The consultant explained that the treatment would work by cutting, or ‘releasing’, some of my ‘fibrous septae bands’. Fibrous septae bands are what hold the skin up and cellulite happens when your fibrous septae bands pull the skin inwards, creating a cellulite dimple.

‘They can’t release them all, because your skin needs to stay in place, but they can release enough to improve the overall appearance.

‘For the treatment to work, you need to have that stereotypical cellulite; the actual dimples I had. During the consultation, they told me that they categorise them into minor, major and intermediate. The best candidates are people with major or intermediate.

‘As it turns out, I was the perfect candidate – my cellulite was classed as ‘major’ so it wasn’t all in my head! – and a month later I was already being prepped for my treatment.’

Diagram of skin Source:

What happened during the actual cellulite treatment?

‘The day of the treatment I went into the recovery room and lay down on my front, my back facing up.

‘Before they started, the surgeon (Dr Tiago Guimaraes) marked up the areas on the back of my thighs and on bottom with criss-crosses and circles using different coloured pens. These were all of the dimples that the surgeon needed to target, a deep or a medium dimple were the priority.

‘He took a long time marking me up and deciding what to cut. He’d look at a big dimple and say: ‘Okay, we’ll attack that one’ or, ‘We’ll release that one and that should help the smaller ones next to it.’  I think he probably released about 100 of my dimples.

‘Before the treatment, I was injected with local anaesthetic and then they padded me up. Water was injected into me containing the anaesthetic and for the most part I couldn’t feel anything during the treatment, except for a few areas where maybe the anaesthetic maybe hadn’t worked quite as well.

‘The machine the surgeon used during the procedure was quite small.  My skin was drawn up into the hand piece via a light vacuum which stretched the fibrous septae bands, allowing the microblade to sever them.  It went only 6-10mm deep, so not terribly invasive.

‘The blade is tiny, no bigger than a needle really and it literally just snips under the skin and releases the cellulite.

‘I must admit, while I was lying there, I did wonder what I’d gotten myself into, but I had already made it this far and honestly, I could barely feel it.

‘There was only one time when I really noticed it. I made a little noise and the surgeon went ‘oh, did you feel that?’ and moved the little contraption slightly, then after that I didn’t feel a thing. You’re not supposed to feel any pain at all. Only the scratch of the anaesthetic going in.

‘After the treatment, they needed to squeeze all that water out of you by hand. So, they squeezed my thighs and squeezed my bottom to get it out. After that, they put the bandages and the packs on.

‘ I was in bandages for a bit, but not really bleeding.  There were sort of puncture areas that showed little spots of blood because of the puncture but they were tiny.’

What’s the recovery period like?

‘I was in very tight compression shorts for a few days – I hated them. That part was the worst for me. I had to keep them on all day and night for the three days after the treatment and I found them so uncomfortable, I won’t lie.

‘Once the anaesthetic wore off I was told I would only need to take paracetamol or ibuprofen for the pain. But I didn’t take anything. I must have a good threshold for pain because I didn’t feel anything.

‘I felt more uncomfortable because of the shorts that I was wearing; slightly numb. But the next day I came back to work.

‘If I had it done again, I’d be a bit kinder to myself and take a day or two off. The recommended down-time is a couple of days and I can see why.  Sitting down caused me a bit of pain with a burning sensation in the whole area that stung quite a bit.

‘When you sit, the pain only lasts for a couple of seconds and then you’re okay. But then you stand up and it starts again. A couple of days later that was all gone, and I’d say it was no longer than two weeks before I felt completely healed.’

Another patients treatment: results continue to improve up to three years after treatment. Source: @cellfina

My husband couldn’t believe it

‘When I first went home after the procedure, my husband was a bit horrified. I hadn’t told him what was happening, so he was completely taken by surprise. There were little dots of blood coming through the dressing and I was all swollen and bruised, the colours were unbelievable.

‘I didn’t bathe the first night. I had to leave the compression shorts on so I couldn’t have exercised or bathed or showered. I had a wash the next day – I had to be in work for 5am, so I had a quick shower. I didn’t exercise for the first few weeks, but if I did it again, I would probably start moving as soon as the dressing came off.’

‘When the first bandages came off, I looked down and because everything was swollen  – my thighs were so much smoother. I was like ‘oh my god! It’s amazing! It’s amazing!’ and they said, ‘that’s just the swelling’.  It doesn’t sort of kick in until around maybe four months after you’ve had it.

‘When the swelling had gone down, I was a bit disappointed, I didn’t think very much had happened. It was visibly better, but I wasn’t blown away. I had it done in November so of course you’ve got your thick tights on, you’ve got your winter trousers on… I kind of just forgot about it.

‘At first I thought ‘Has it worked? Has it not?’. In my case because I hated my thighs so much, I didn’t even look at that area anymore.

‘About 4-5 months after the treatment I was in my pants and I walked from my bedroom to the spare room to get something, and my husband called out, ‘Come back to me’, so I did.

He stared at my thighs for a bit and then he just said, ‘God, it really has worked hasn’t it?’ My husband is not the kind of person to notice or say anything so that’s when I finally had a proper look and saw my thighs were really smooth and this time the swelling had of course all gone down. So yes, it really had worked.

The results were life-changing

‘Before the treatment, I was happy enough with the rest of my body. I‘m not skinny by any means, and I’ve always thought that I look better in clothes than out. I’m a good weight for my height so it’s not something that bothers me.

But the way I felt about my cellulite really held me back from living my life properly. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all gone, we knew it wouldn’t, but it’s just so much smoother. I don’t feel like people are pointing anymore.

This summer I went on holiday and, for the first time in years, I swam. I didn’t fuss about with a sarong or anything like that. I just did it.

All in all, the whole experience only cost me £3950 (for someone with less cellulite, it would cost about £3450) and that’s very little compared to the money I threw away trying to fix it in my younger years.

I think when I tell someone what happened, I probably put them off a little. But it really isn’t as bad as it sounds and it is 100 percent worth it.

It’s true that as you get older, you see things more clearly, you care a little less about what other people think.

I’m turning 50 this year, so I’ve learned not to be so hard on myself. You realise how lucky you are. I can still walk; I can still run and I’m healthy… and now I can swim.’

The typical cost for a Cellfina treatment starts from £2,500, and depends on the individual (for example if they have a lot more dimples to treat, the cost will be higher), but this will be advised on consultation.

Nikki had her treatment at the Sthetix clinic in Liverpool, Merseyside UK. Their services include  cosmetic surgery, gynaecological surgery, laser treatments, skin care and non-surgical cosmetic treatments and of course, Cellfina.

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