Hormones, age and genetics are thought to be the biggest triggers, especially in women. Regardless of how or why it's there, most women would like it gone. Donna Winesburg is one of them.
"We just want that smooth, wonderful perfect looking skin, and cellulite is just not smooth or perfect," she told ABC7.
Getting at the root cause is considered key. A laser device called the Cellulaze claims to do just that.
"Why I think it is going to make it a game changer is that you really are treating the underlying structure of cellulite," said Dr. Mir Joffrey.
Cosmetic surgeon Mir Joffrey in suburban Schaumburg offers Cellulaze. He explains cellulite is caused by clumps of fat cells pushing up against fibrous bands or cords that pull down, causing that dimpling effect. So to get rid of it you need to address more than just the fat, and that is what has made treating cellulite so difficult in the past.
Joffrey says Cellulaze works like nothing else because it does three things. It melts the bulging fat pockets, cuts through and releases the fibrous bands that are pulling down and triggers the production of collagen to help thicken and smooth the skin. All of this should happen with just one treatment.
"You are actually going underneath where those fiber substations are where that fat is and dismantling the entire architecture of the entire cellulite," said Dr. Joffrey.
Donna Winesburg invited ABC7 along to watch her procedure. Winesburg is awake and a local anesthetic is used in the area being treated. Through a tiny incision the laser on the end of a very thin tube is threaded under the skin and the cellulite is targeted as the laser passes back and forth angling in different directions.
It may look like liposuction but nothing is being sucked out, though small amounts of fluid may seep out of the tiny opening.
The company says one U.S. study shows an average increase in skin thickness by about 25 percent and an increase in the elasticity by 29 percent at one year. For patients, that should mean smoother skin.
"The data really suggests you really need to wait about three months before you really get your results," said Dr. Joffrey.
Cellulaze is certainly creating a lot of buzz, but many skin experts won't be convinced until there are more long term results. Cosmetic surgeon Carolyn Jacob at Chicago Cosmetic Surgery & Dermatology is one of them.
"So things continue to march on with time. And it's hard to say anything is permanent with one treatment with the skin," said Dr. Jacob. "So I am very interested to see how it works for patients."
Winesburg says she was back to her normal routine the next day and even putting in a full day of work on her feet at another medical facility. She knows it will be months before she sees dramatic results.
"So by the time it warms up I should be ready, I'm hoping," said Winesburg.
This procedure is not cheap and it's not covered by insurance. It can cost $4,000 or more.
Dr. Mir Joffrey
Lift Laser & Body
The Streets of Woodfield
601 N. Martingale Rd.
Schaumburg, Il. 60173
Dr. Carolyn Jacob
Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology
20 West Kinzie Street Chicago, IL 60654