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.
Charges for these procedures vary among doctors; endermology treatments range from $50 to $100 per treatment. Liposuction ranges from $2,000 to $6,000.
From the sunny Florida beaches, Leslie Baumann, MD, director of cosmetic dermatology at the University of Miami, gives WebMD a more global perspective. "In France, women don't drink carbonated beverages so they won't get cellulite, but I've never seen studies on that. It's an old wives' tale."
Also in Europe, women get injections of caffeine, but that's not been published, Baumann adds. "Some of my patients from Europe have told me about it, that it worked for their friends."
Creams are the way to go, says Baumann. "Creams that contain caffeine and aminophylline help dehydrate the fat cells, so they have a temporary benefit, but it only lasts about 24 hours. It just temporarily shrinks up the fat cells." She adds that the change is subtle.
As for endermology, "there really are no good studies on that," she tells WebMD. "Most studies have been done by the company and I've been able to find nothing that's an unbiased study. A lot of people report liking it, but I personally don't believe that it works."