Permanent Appointment is our review series that studies the best new and notable cosmetic procedures in the aesthetic space and determines whether they are worth trying for yourself.
You can love your butt and you can’t lie, but if you’re like the rude 90% of women on Earth, so that ass probably piled up a bit or many cellulite. No matter your height, height, workout routine, or geographic origin, cellulite is waiting for no one, and it has more to do with your genetics than anything else (thank you mom and dad!). Most importantly, it is there is nothing to be ashamed of, especially since the majority of people who walk on this planet have it. However, you’re also not at fault if you’re interested in any or all of the options that can alleviate the appearance of those stubborn dimples. I certainly am.
Cellulite can range from subtle bumps to a faint cottage cheese texture, depending on your hormone levels and cell structure, and typically affects the thighs, buttocks, and stomach. Over time, the bands of collagen (called fibrous partitions) that connect the skin to the underlying tissues can strengthen and slide the skin downward while pushing fat towards the skin, creating depressions, called dimples. It’s the tension of these fibers that causes the fat protuberances, * not * the fat itself, which is why cellulite cannot be eliminated by diet and exercise alone (and why the number you see on the scale is not an indicator of whether or not you will experience cellulite in the first place). Basically, all of this means that getting rid of cellulite, even temporarily, is extremely difficult.
There is an overwhelming amount of lotions, creams, ointments, serums, and vacuum suction devices on the market today that claim to be able to make cellulite go away quickly. But, as cellulite occurs at a deeper level of the skin, these treatments usually fall flat. It’s there that QWO, a trendy new cellulite treatment, is in the spotlight – and has stuck there since it was approved by the FDA in July 2020. Obviously, I was intrigued and decided to do it. ‘try it for myself.
What is QWO?
QWO, in other words Collagenase Clostridium histolyticum-aaes, is the first FDA-approved injectable treatment that reduces the appearance of cellulite dimpling. Endo Aesthetics developed the treatment, which consists of a series of injections given every 21 days, for a total of three visits to your dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
You might be thinking: did they just say injectable? Yes, it’s true. Unlike more invasive cellulite procedures, QWO requires a few simple in-office injections that hurt less than a tattoo and little more than a simple finger prick.
To really put the injectable (which already has a long waiting list) to the test, I visited a certified dermatologist. Dr Bruce Katz at the JUVA Skin and Laser Center in Manhattan a few weeks ago.
How does the QWO work?
When I entered the office I was greeted with smiles and enthusiasm from the staff. I changed into a dressing gown and stood in a pictorial box inside the tiled floor. Dr Katz and his nurse had me take various poses, all with my butt exposed, as they took pictures of my everlasting cellulite. Then I carefully lay down on the exam room table as they sterilize the needles and clean the circled areas. Dr Katz injected a small amount of QWO (via a needle and a small vial) into each dimple, which felt like a small pinch, but quick. Before I knew it, the treatment was over.
“The injections work to dissolve the buildup of collagen in the fibrous bands,” says Dr. Katz, “which are bands under the skin that thicken and cause tension and the ‘dimpled’ appearance of cellulite.” He went on to explain that QWO works by fusing two enzymes targeting collagen that occur naturally in the body. When inserted under the skin, these enzymes break down the build-up of collagen in fibrous bands that lead to cellulite formation – something never before accomplished with over-the-office or over-the-counter treatment.
According to the FDA, QWO has been determined as a safe and potent treatment for cellulite dimpling via the largest clinical trials in the history of cellulite examination in the United States. The most common side effects are slight bruising at the injection site, swelling, tenderness and itching. However, I was able to treat all of my symptoms with Tylenol.
As an injectable, it comes with much less risk and a shorter recovery time than the other two anti-cellulite procedures currently on the market, Cellulaze and Cellfina. Cellulaze is a laser treatment that moves the laser under your skin to melt the fat present with heat, delivered through multiple small incisions the size of a ballpoint pen. Cellfina targets fibrous bands with a microblade technique, but requires extended downtime. Comparatively, the ease and absence of discomfort of QWO is a clear advantage, but with all three treatments, the appearance of cellulite (due to the regrowth of the bands or the relocation of fat to this area) will eventually return. . How quickly this happens is the most important question (aside from things like cost, recovery time, etc.).
How many treatments does it take to see results?
Dr. Katz explains that “QWO requires three sessions and patients see results quickly – in as little as three to six weeks. When I got home from the first round of injections, I noticed bruising on my butt quite quickly. Bruising and tenderness is a fairly standard side effect of skin fillers, so it wasn’t necessarily a surprise. Small bumps appeared on my skin and over the next week dark bruises started to appear that were a little tender to the touch but did not require squeezing, lying down or changing my daily schedule.
The next day, I couldn’t sit properly on hard surfaces. Although it seems brutal, the pain subsided quickly compared to other treatments, like Botox and filler, which the skin may be sensitive to for a few days after the injections. During the first week I noticed that the bruises darkened, but by the end of the third week they faded along with the lumps.
After only two weeks, I was standing naked in the mirror, screaming for my boyfriend to come and see what the skin on my butt looked like for the fifth time that day. I proudly looked at my new smoother butt all day long. As the third week post-injection approached, I noticed that the dimples got smaller and smaller. I didn’t think it was possible, because even though I had learned to accept my cellulite, I still didn’t particularly appreciate its lingering appearance. For having only received the first of three sets of treatments, it was safe to say that the first results are impressive.
How long does the QWO treatment last?
For many cellulite treatments, even surgical options, the results wear off after a few months as the fibers in the septae grow back (and they will always grow back) – which can be extremely disheartening when you consider the price of invasive in-office procedures. I asked Dr. Katz this same question. “I’ve been in clinical trials for QWO, and so far patients have seen results for two and a half years. [after completing all three rounds of injections], “he says.” While we are in the process of testing it for five years, it appears that the results are lasting, although we cannot say for sure without the scientific data after the new tests.
How much does QWO cost?
Like most office skin care treatments, these injectable sessions can add up quickly. Each QWO session ranges from $ 695 to $ 1,000, depending on how many areas the patient wants to treat, as well as where you live (providers in populated cities tend to be more expensive). On the plus side, since QWO treatments are spread over three sessions, you won’t owe as much up front – at least compared to other cosmetic procedures for which payment is due on the same day.
As with anything that involves needles and your skin, it is wise to save your money and consult a board certified supplier with plenty of experience.
Who is the ideal candidate for this treatment?
The ideal candidate for QWO is an adult woman with moderate to severe cellulitis that includes dimpling on the buttocks. So far it works for all skin types and tones – even on me, a dark skinned woman! Your application will be carefully assessed during your private consultation, and although the injectable is only FDA approved for the buttocks, most providers will also be comfortable using it on the thigh area (from the buttocks). same way that Botox is used in areas other than the FDA -approved “11s” between the eyebrows).
How i feel now
I’m due for my second round of QWO injections soon, but I’ve already shown everyone my butt on Facetime because of how amazing the transformation has been. Even in the first round, the little dimples I’ve had since I was 13 have shrunk, and some have even disappeared. I look forward to my next cellulite treatment and will continue to love myself regardless, and long after it returns.