Buyer Beware: Fast Body Improvements for Cellulite and Stretch Marks

Every single day we are bombarded with advertisements from thousands of businesses.  Whether in magazines or newspapers, on television or even on buses or shopping carts, they are put in a specific place just to catch our eye.  Ordinarily I ignore these ads, but I’d like to tell you about one pushing quick and easy body improvements that was particularly noteworthy.

“Effortless” and Fast Body Improvements Aren’t Always What They Seem

I came across an advertisement the other day from one of the several establishments here in the Madison area, which are run by non-plastic surgeons (many by non-physicians), which claim to help women reduce the appearance of stretch marks and improve cellulite.  This ad went on to promise that their clients could “easily and effortlessly” lose both weight and inches of fat in fewer than 2 months using their non-surgical, non-invasive  techniques.  Special coupons were even offered as well as a “satisfaction money-back guarantee”.

I’ve never shied away from competition from my colleagues, as I have every confidence in my abilities to make my patients happy.  However, I found the claims made in these ads rather offensive because they are disingenuous, and give people a false sense of hope.  I have been a board-certified plastic surgeon for 20 years, and have a solid understanding of the science of my specialty and what can be accomplished and what cannot.  I have always endeavored to be completely honest with my patients, never promising any type of body improvement if it was something I was not certain I could achieve.

Stretch Marks – Am I the Only One Who Has Them?

Caused by the stress of expansion and stretching, stretch marks are merely scars of the skin, and a common annoyance for thousands of people.  They are a common result for many women who have had a pregnancy, or someone who’s lost weight.  They can be a considerable embarrassment and many people are willing to do almost anything to remove them. 

It’s Possible to Improve, But Not Eliminate

A simple Google search will identify numerous sites promising to improve and even remove stretch marks with little to no effort.  My patients often ask me if there is anything that I can do to remove stretch marks in a simple, non-invasive fashion.  My usual response is fairly straightforward:  If there were some treatment that could accomplish this goal, there would be a line of women stretching from my waiting room into the parking lot.  Furthermore, if there were a treatment that could remove stretch marks, would any woman in this country still have them?  I would love to be able to provide this service to my patients, but sadly I cannot, as there is no reliable method to eliminate stretch marks.  However, the appearance of these scars can sometimes be improved, just as with any other scars, through well-accepted and relatively inexpensive measures, but to eliminated them entirely is just not possible.

The Low-Down on Cellulite

An extremely common nuisance, cellulite is actually just fat.  It is mostly seen in the hips and thighs.  Some have described this as an abnormal condition, but the fact of the matter is that this is a normal condition.  The fat underneath the skin is compartmentalized by fibrous walls, connecting the skin to the deeper tissues, and these fibrous connections tether the skin creating the contour irregularities we see as “cellulite.”  Over the years there have been numerous treatments offered to solve this problem:  lasers, rollers, infrared, ultraviolet, pills, creams, etc.  I would love to be able to offer a magical cure for cellulite.  However, as I explain to may patients, if there were a reliable treatment for cellulite, would there be any women in this country with this problem?  I am still looking for the line of patients from my waiting room into the parking lot.

Advertisement Can Be Tricky

Reducing fat and inches is a simple matter of intake and output.  Reducing your calorie intake and increasing your exercise is the only proven non-surgical way to decrease weight and size.  In my office I show actual pre- and post-operative photos of real patients on my website and in my office, and again, I will never make a promise that I know I can’t deliver.  The ad I mentioned earlier promised a “refund” satisfaction policy, but a closer look revealed that an actual refund was not an option.  If clients weren’t satisfied with their results, they would be given additional “treatments” free of charge.

I’ve said it before and will continue to say it: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  These establishments likely won’t do you any harm (I hope).  But don’t expect the body improvement results that they so eloquently and effortlessly promise.