Deep mechanical massage has been advocated as an alternative or adjunctive therapy for the contouring of subcutaneous fat and as a treatment for cellulite. We evaluated the effects of deep mechanical massage using two pig models. Yucatan pigs were divided into three groups (n = 4). One side of each body received 4, 10, or 20 treatments and the other side served as a control. Fullthickness tissue sections, including the underlying muscle, were harvested from identical treated and untreated regions. Examination of these regionally matched samples revealed an accumulation of dense, longitudinal collagen bands in the middle dermal and deep subdermal regions, which progressively increased with the number of treatments. Distortion and disruption of adipocytes was noted. In Yorkshire pigs, force-transducing balloon catheters were surgically placed between the deep subcutaneous tissue and muscle fascia. Catheters were inserted into two regions with different skin and subcutaneous tissue characteristics, the midflank and the hip. Standardized maneuvers were performed at suction settings 3, 5, 7, and 9 to record baseline tissue forces. Each maneuver carried a unique force signature. The measurement of tissue forces was repeated on the opposite side after 10 standardized treatment sessions. Analysis showed a significant reduction of measured forces at the midflank after the treatments. The actual force measured with each particular maneuver varied between different operators but not with different suction settings, suggesting that the technique of administering the treatments is the primary factor in creating the force within the tissue. This leads to the conclusion that deep mechanical massage is highly dependent on the individual operator of the device. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 108: 233, 2001.)
From the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Received for publication June 1, 2000; revised September 6, 2000.
Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, in Dallas, Texas, on May 18, 1999, and as an invited presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in New Orleans, Louisiana, in November of 1999.
R. Bruce Shack, M.D.
230 Medical Center South
Vanderbilt School of Medicine
Nashville, Tenn. 37232