In their initial study, Shack gave treatments to 10 young pigs, whose skin is similar to human skin. Some were treated daily for four weeks, some for 10 weeks, some for 20 weeks. Researchers found a "surprising, and very dramatic increase in subcutaneous collagen," a substance in the body that helps skin keep its youthful appearance. They also found that the 'strings' attached at the muscle level were looser and had lost their indentation, creating a smooth surface.
However, he admits, "It probably doesn't last forever. We've likened it to a callus. If you work with your hands [you get] thickened skin. If you stop, the calluses go away."
In glitzy Los Angeles, Peter Fodor, MD, associate professor of plastic surgery at UCLA, keeps three endermology machines running constantly in his private practice. "We have hundreds of patients coming through here," he tells WebMD.
Endermology generally shows its results after a series of 14 treatments, he says. Some go for yet another series before switching to a maintenance program. To keep the effect long-term, you need to have one treatment every other week.
"Patients compare it to a relaxing massage, and the cost itself is not different from a massage," Fodor adds. "Some patients try it, thinking that if nothing else they get a relaxing massage. But what our technicians tell me, which I almost cannot believe, almost unheard of, is [that patients have] close to a 100% satisfaction rate. ... Patients lose inches, not weight. They are redistributing things."
"But I don't want to build it up as something incredible, because quite honestly ... it does not replace liposuction. Liposuction removes fat," says Fodor. In fact, studies he has conducted show that when endermology is performed immediately after liposuction surgery, bruising and swelling from the surgery disappear faster.
"Endermology is a fancy roller massage," James McKay, MD, tells WebMD. "It's really expensive, and the reason people look good is that the rollers compress or roll ... fluid out of body tissues. It's a short-term fix, not curing the basic problem. But a lot of people like it; you see various package prices advertised." McKay is associate professor of plastic surgery at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.