Treatment review

What you need to know about the injectable

Cellulite is a totally mystifying thing that happens to the female body (90% of female bodies on the planet, to be more exact) – mystifying because it has nothing to do with your “health”. It is simply the way your body is structured below the surface. Although this is not a health concern at all, there are many products and treatments available to help those who want to reduce the appearance of their dimples. As someone who has tried many of the solutions available, I was particularly intrigued by QWO, the latest one.

QWO anti-cellulite treatment is the first FDA approved injectable designed to smooth cellulite. This is revolutionary because, well, there has been nothing like it before: it works to eliminate cellulite at its source, rather than by massage, radio frequency, or – the standard – topical products. Instead, it specifically targets connection bands, called fibrous partitions, below the surface of the skin. (When you have cellulite, these the bands are extra stiff, which cause tension fat cells grow against the skin and create a ripple effect.)

QWO’s has garnered a lot of buzz since it officially launched in dermatology and cosmetics offices across the country in March, so I was curious to try it out for myself. Here is what I learned and how it all happened.

What is the QWO anti-cellulite treatment?

The magic of QWO is that it is an enzyme that dissolves the fibrous bands that create cellulite. “It is made from enzymes called collagenases, and these are thought to target structural causes under the skin where cellulite begins, ”explains Grace Battaglia, director of business development at Endo Aesthetics, the maker of QWO. Enzymes do three things: release fibrous bands, create more space for fat cells to redistribute, and stimulate new collagen growth.

The effectiveness of QWO has been tested in 843 patients in the largest cellulite study never done in the US To make sure it works for a variety of women, trials were conducted on people aged 18 to 78 with different skin types and ethnicities and have been shown to be safe for everyone.

However, not everyone is a candidate for treatment. According to Dr. Melissa Levin, MD, a certified New York dermatologist and founder of Entiere Dermatology, you must have moderate to severe cellulitis, as determined by your dermis – rather than slight ripples or sagging skin – for it to be effective. And, although QWO has so far only gotten FDA approval for the treatment of dimpling in the buttock area, you can also ask your dermatologist to put it on your legs, which I have. do.

When you get QWO, your appointment will be relatively quick, usually around 10 to 15 minutes, and you’ll need three treatments, each about three weeks apart. In terms of cost, each session ranges from $ 695 to $ 995 depending on how many zones you treat and where in the country you do it.


A few months ago I entered Juva Skin & Laser Center in New York meet Dr Bruce E. Katz, MD, a board certified dermatologist who actually helped conduct the FDA trials on patients for the treatment. To make sure I was a perfect candidate for QWO, I changed into a blouse and Katz examined my areas of concern – the sides and fronts of my thighs – and circled the dimples he would inject.

From there I lay down on the treatment table as Katz walked in with the syringe filled with QWO. You don’t need numbing cream for injections, although this is an option if you are really sensitive to pain. I did without – Katz said the needle is tiny and you “barely feel it”. It was mostly true: I felt just a small pinch, similar to Botox, in most of the areas he injected me. The area just above my knees, however, was quite sore, and Katz told me it was because the skin was thinner in that area. Fortunately, it was over after a few minutes.

When I got up I was surprised at how much my legs hurt – it felt like I had just done an extra hard lower body workout. Katz says you’ll probably feel the most Side effects, including mild pain and soreness, swelling and localized bruising, after the first session of QWO. They should decrease with each treatment.

The pain in my legs kept me from sitting down and getting up, which made walking down the subway stairs after my first treatment quite a challenge. I felt mobile again after about two days of half-lameness and a lot of rest. But the bruises were very present: in all the injection sites, I developed bands of ultra-dark spots where I was treated. Eleven weeks later, they are almost completely gone.

How does QWO compare to other cellulite treatments?

In the field of cellulite treatment, the other very effective option in the office is Cellfina, which has been around and has been approved by the FDA since 2015. It is a more invasive procedure that uses a device that pushes needles through the skin to physically break up the fibrous bands, according to Levin. “It causes a lot of trauma, it’s not as targeted and there’s a lot of downtime for the patient,” she tells Bustle.

The other great cellulite treatment on the market is Cellulaze, an FDA-approved laser surgical procedure that requires local anesthesia and works to cut fibrous bands and stimulate collagen. Still, Katz and Levin point out that QWO is the first of its kind – an injection you can get on your lunch break much like you would with Botox or a filler.

In addition to these, massages and radiofrequency treatments – such as EmTone and Velashape, for example – stimulate collagen with a combination of physical manipulation of the skin and warmth. “They’re trying to drastically loosen things up without breaking the groups, so they’re not getting to the root cause,” Levin says. These methods don’t last as long and typically require four to six treatments once or twice a year to maintain results. (FWIW, I have had four Velashape sessions in the past and only saw minor improvement in my cellulite … but the dimples returned to normal after a few months.)

How long does the QWO last?

Besides the results, QWO is remarkable because it lasts a long time. “We checked the patients we did the QWO on two and a half years ago in the FDA trials, and none of the women saw their cellulitis come back,” Katz says. This is a big difference compared to other treatments on the market.

My QWO results

Left: front; Right: 3 weeks after my third treatment, and the sides of my legs haven’t been so smooth since I was a teenager.

After Katz gave me my first set of injections, I was told that I should start to see improvement after the second treatment, but maybe not until the third – and that I certainly wouldn’t see results. final before about six months. after.

That’s why I was shocked when I got out of bed one morning a week and a half after my first set of injections and saw noticeably smoother legs. After my second session, I prepared for a slow and painful ride home, but was pleasantly surprised to feel a lot less pain than the first time. I was also prepared for the dark bruising (having stocked up on a handful of bruise-reducing creams), but woke up the next morning to find not so intense spots.

When I went for my third and final treatment three weeks later, my practitioner struggled to find any dimples to inject – my legs had become much smoother. The side effects were also significantly reduced: I did not feel any pain after the injections and I did not feel any new bruises.

It’s been 11 weeks since my first QWO session, and I’m impressed with the results: my cellulite is around 95% gone. Cellulite is something I battled for at least a decade, and although I did my best to kiss it, I always felt a little self-conscious when slipping into a swimsuit or a pair of shorts. Over the past two months, however, I have felt a surge of confidence that doesn’t stop me from showing my legs in public – and while it may seem superficial, the treatment has made a huge difference in my self. . valued. I’ve always been cynical when it comes to cellulite treatments, but I’m happy to report that it’s the real deal.

Referenced studies:

Friedmann, D. (2017). Cellulite: a review focusing on subcision. Clinical, aesthetic and experimental dermatology.

Luebberding, S. (2015). Cellulite: an evidence-based review. Am J Clin Dermatol.

Shingleton, WD (1996). Collagenase: a key enzyme in the renewal of collagen. Biochem Cell Biol.


Dr Bruce E. Katz, MD, a certified dermatologist based in New York City

Dr. Melissa Levin, MD, certified New York dermatologist and founder of Entiere Dermatology