Acoustic Wave Therapy

What is Acoustic Wave Therapy and who is a candidate for the procedure?

Acoustic Wave Therapy is a non-invasive treatment designed for cellulite. Cellulite is a common condition of the skin that occurs in both men and women, though women are more susceptible to the condition which tends to appear primarily during the childbearing years of life and long after.

The dimpling effect on the skin that characterizes cellulite is the result of a combination of processes. First, the hardening of the connective tissue underneath the skin's surface is responsible for pulling the skin inward. At the same time, accumulation of lipids causes fat cells to expand, resulting in the skin expanding outward. The two processes working at the same time lead to the dimpling effect that is commonly known as cellulite.

Cellulite may be treated with Acoustic Wave Therapy, which uses mechanical vibrations to affect the connective tissue in the problem areas of the body. This procedure was originally used to treat pain associated with poor circulation and stiff joints.

Physicians administering these treatments noticed that many of their patients showed a significant improvement in cellulite as well. Further study in Switzerland showed that during this vibrating treatment, connective tissue was stretched, blood flow was increased and collagen production was stimulated. The end result was visibly smoother skin with improved elasticity, texture and firmness.

Individuals looking for a non-invasive method for reducing the appearance of cellulite on the skin are generally optimal candidates for this procedure. Best results are usually seen in individuals who are in good health overall and are maintaining a reasonable weight. Acoustic Wave Therapy may be performed on many areas of the body, including the buttocks, thighs, abdomen and arms.

Candidacy for Acoustic Wave Therapy is a determination made by the practicing physician. There are a significant number of factors that must be considered for each patient including age, health factors, diet and family history that must be addressed for any patient that is considering undergoing Acoustic Wave Therapy.

What are the different tools that are used in Acoustic Wave Therapy?

There are two different tools that may be used to perform Acoustic Wave Therapy: the planar applicator and the radial pressure applicator. The planar applicator uses an electromagnetic process that results in a high energy pressure wave with a relatively short duration. This process will break up fibrous matter and stimulate the production of collagen. The entire treatment is nearly painless.

The radial pressure applicator uses an air chamber and pellet to generate a pressure wave. This wave works more slowly and patients feel the vibration during the treatment. This is the tool that has also been used to treat pain in some patients because it can stimulate the nerves and increase circulation.

In some cases, muscle tone is also improved. Some doctors are looking into using a combination of these two tools for best results in cellulite treatment.

How does the procedure work and what is the recovery like?

Acoustic Wave Therapy is a fairly quick and painless procedure, with no recovery time necessary. Paddles are run over the location of the cellulite, sending acoustic pulses to the connective tissue and surrounding area.

The procedure is generally performed as an out-patient treatment without the use of anesthesia or other types of pain medication. Acoustic Wave Therapy sessions generally take 30 minutes or less, but repeat sessions may be required to achieve the desired results.

Physicians may recommend two sessions a week for three weeks, with possible treatments every three months afterward to maintain the benefit.

What are the risks involved with Acoustic Wave Therapy?

Risks with this procedure are minimal, with no serious complications reported at this time. Side effects of Acoustic Wave Therapy are rare, with a very small number of patients reporting some bruising, redness or mild discomfort after the procedure.

How much does Acoustic Wave Therapy cost?

The average cost for an Acoustic Wave Therapy session is $150-$300. Patients estimating the cost for the procedure will need to multiply that amount by the number of sessions that are performed.

Most complete treatments will run patients $900-$1,200, depending on what areas are treated and the physician performing the procedure. Additional sessions may be required to maintain the benefits, which will raise the cost above this basic estimate over time.

Disclaimer: This information is intended only as an introduction to this procedure. This information should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor does it guarantee results of your elective surgery. Further details regarding surgical standards and procedures should be discussed with your physician.

By OnlineSurgery Staff
Updated: March 18, 2009

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