Side Effects Include Bruising
The 10 women studied had an average age of 41 and overall had an average body mass index of 28, or overweight (a BMI of 18.5-24.9 is deemed normal weight; a BMI of 25-29.9 is overweight; and a BMI of 30 or higher is obese). For reference, a person 5 feet 8 inches who weighs 160 pounds has a BMI of 24; at 185 pounds the BMI is 28.
Women in the study reported a lot of bruising the first week after the injections, Dagum says. They were advised not to do heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for the first couple of weeks. Other side effects included bruising and swelling at the injection area.
The manufacturer of the collagenase provided the materials for Dagum's study, and his university provided the research funds.
What do other experts think of the collagenase treatment? "It shows potential," says Susan Evans, MD, cosmetic dermatologist in Beverly Hills, Calif. But, she adds, "it was a very small study, 10 people, and not [conducted] over a long period of time. It's really unclear if all the data could be supported or reproduced over the long term."
"From this data I don't think we have a new standard of treatment for cellulite," says Adam M. Rotunda, MD, also a dermatologist in Beverly Hills, Calif., and a clinical instructor of dermatology at the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Southern California.
More research is needed on this treatment and others, he says.
"Right now, there is no standard out there," he says.
Among the other options for reducing the appearance of cellulite are topical skin treatments, laser treatments, injection of other substances, and massage.
Dagum wants to do a larger study and experiment with different amounts of collagenase.
He couldn't estimate the cost of the treatments at this point. He is hopeful that it may be available in the next few years.
What Else Helps?
"Physical fitness andto some extent will help," Dagum says. "If you put on weight, you will make your cellulite look worse. BMI has an effect. The larger you are, the more prominent the cellulite will be because you have more hypertrophy [enlargement] of the fat cells."
Whatever a woman's weight, he says, cellulite affects at least 85% of women to some extent.