Above photo: Getty Images
The time has finally come. After nearly a decade of complaining, I've decided to do something. On an early Saturday morning I find myself anxiously driving to an aesthetician's office. Los Angeles is the mecca of all things beauty—seriously, it's guaranteed you'll find someone who can enhance your natural features anywhere within a five-mile radius. So what exactly is it that I want to change about my look? My cellulite, of course. And while approximately 98% of women experience cellulite in their lifetime, and many choose to embrace it, I haven't been able to and am extremely envious of the 2% who don't see a single dimple in the light of day.
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How It All Began
Puberty hits, things change and we begin to nitpick. Societal pressures may be to blame for my paranoia surrounding ripply thighs, but it was my biggest body concern throughout high school. My mother and grandmother both explained to me that it's hereditary and they both began to notice lumps and bumps on their thighs and buttocks at a very young age. Hereditary or not, I've always wanted to be rid of it. I also learned it has nothing to do with size. Women who are very thin, even supermodels such as Cindy Crawford, have opened up about having cellulite.
But as I did my own early research as a teen, the answers were always the same: exercise and healthy diet. I was a ballerina for eleven years, a cheerleader for four and a runner for one. At home we ate very low in salt, practiced portion control and rarely had dessert. I couldn't help but think, Why the hell do I still have cellulite?
Life went on and I had bigger things to worry about such as college and career. But now, in my early 20s, the long-held habit of squeezing and staring at my thighs and butt has returned. Luckily, I'm a beauty editor, so I have resources at my disposal to answer my questions and suggest procedures to try.
Finding My Treatment
I do extensive research on doctors and aestheticians but eventually I find my go-to via an obvious destination for all things beauty—Instagram.
I find Sevana, or Sev, as she calls herself, on the platform and I notice some familiar faces across her feed. Remember Chrissy Teigen's glamorous bare legs in her thigh-high slit dress at this year's AMAs? Thank Sev's laser hair-removal skills. At first I think I'm just looking at videos of women getting their eyebrows done or their legs lasered until I come across one featuring Hrush Achemyan (the Kardashian family’s makeup artist) with a vacuum-like device being rolled across her stomach. To say I'm intrigued is an understatement, and I head to Sev's website.
As I peruse the services listed—laser hair-removal, filler injections, eyebrow waxing, microblading and cellulite treatments—I notice that everyone from Kourtney Kardashian to Shay Mitchell are fans and I decide to e-mail her. Within an hour I have an appointment (and feel like a kid on Christmas).
Sev offers two different cellulite treatments, an Alma Accent XLi platform and a LiLa Strawberry Laser. I plan to try both. Alma Accent XLi is a multi-application radio frequency and microplasma-based platform for the non-invasive treatment of cellulite, skin tightening and body contouring—this is what I saw Hrush try on Instagram. The LiLa Strawberry Laser is strapped to you with five different blocks that point red lasers into the skin. Both are non-invasive and require zero downtime.
How They Work
When I arrive at the office, I strip off my bottoms and point to my problem areas—my butt, back upper thighs and outer sides of my thighs. Sev and her assistant measure each of my thighs as well as my hips. I pose for photos from four different angles (oh joy), and then it's time to lie down and get to it.
First up is the Alma Accent XLi. The technicians apply an oil to the areas I'd like contoured and Sev begins to explain how it's going to work. "We roll the Alma over each area and you'll feel it progressively warm up," she says. The point is to heat up the epidermis as well as the fat cells underneath so they can be broken. "When we reach a warm enough temperature, we move onto a lymphatic massage to bring the melted fat cells up to your lymph nodes. They’ll leave your body through urination," she explains. She adds that I must drink a lot of water throughout the day and no caffeine or alcohol for 48 hours. Neglecting this will cause my fat cells to dehydrate and will lessen the chances of them passing through my body. "Your urine will look more oily than usual, but that's just the fat cells that have passed," she advises.
As she's rolling, I feel the laser device getting warmer by the second, but it's completely tolerable. It's as if I stepped into a shower and the water was a bit warmer than expected. Because my cellulite is very stubborn in these areas, we need to go up to 107 degrees in order to melt my fat cells. For those whose fat isn't as stubborn, the temperature doesn't need to be as high.
She goes for about 20 to 30 seconds on my left thigh and then stops for the lymphatic massage. We repeat this four times on each thigh, and then move onto each of my glutes. When the process is done, we move on to skin tightening using the same device with a slightly higher temperature. I barely flinch, but others may be more sensitive to the heat. When we're done, we take more pictures before moving onto the second treatment.
For the LiLa Strawberry Laser, there's no heat. Each of my thighs are strapped to a belt containing five laser blocks pointing toward my outer thighs, and two sensors are placed on my pelvis right above my lymph nodes. I lay there for 10 minutes and take a nap—during which I have a nightmare over the fact that I can't have a glass of wine that night to decompress. After that's over, we do the same again with the lasers pointed toward my inner thighs.
Then comes my favorite part of the whole experience—10 minutes of exercise on a full body vibrating machine. I place both my feet onto what looks like a single step and my body shakes the entire time. I jiggle everywhere, but they advise me it's equivalent to one hour of cardio so I feel accomplished.
We finish it all with one more session of photos and then I'm measured again. When it's all over I've lost half an inch from each thigh, and have to look at the record chart we used earlier because I'm in pure disbelief. Then I run to the bathroom, and she was right about the urine (sorry, TMI).
The Results And The Costs
Upon looking in the mirror once I get home, I can honestly say I see a difference in the texture of my skin. It's smoother and a lot more contoured than before. Sev has advised me that most of her clients visit her twice a week for six to eight weeks, I give it another go. After my second treatment, my skin is even tighter and I'm still feeling great. Needless to say I'm going to continue the treatment into the new year, possibly completing the eight recommended sessions.
Sev Laser Aesthetics has three offices across Southern California, located in West Hollywood, Sherman Oaks and Glendale. Pricing and package information is available on the site.
This experience is in no way intended to convince others to try it. My struggle with cellulite is personal and I've always wanted to try treatments, but if you're looking for a less intense option, try one of the products below for a skin-tightening boost.