Baby boomers aren’t surrendering to their twilight years. As sales of anti-aging products rise and interest in maintaining an active lifestyle and youthful appearance continues, therapists who cater to this demographic have the opportunity to provide client satisfaction while increasing practice profits.
Cottage cheese, orange peel, lumpy bumps or dimpling—call it what you will—cellulite can be found on the hips, thighs, stomachs and buttocks of nearly 90 percent of women. Basically, cellulite results when fat cells enlarge and accumulate beneath the superficial layer of the skin and, in combination with fluid retention, cause changes in the connective tissue. Sedentary lifestyle habits coupled with a fatty diet, excessive alcohol and caffeine intake, smoking, some prescription drugs, hormonal changes and stress contribute to the formation of cellulite.
One type of massage employs the thumbs, knuckles and palm of the hand without the use of creams, oils or lotions to contour the body, according to Pat Parkinson, creator of Dermasculpture.
To obtain optimal results, Parkinson recommends full-body massage. “When you work just one area, all the energy is focused on that area,” she says. “A full-body, half-hour treatment spreads the intensity over the whole body.
“Clients should leave feeling like they’ve just worked out, invigorated,” Parkinson adds.
Dermasculpture does not shed pounds, but is a “great adjunct to a weight-loss program,” according to Parkinson. “It helps your client stay focused. It’s not as easy to grab a donut when you are more aware of your body.”
To maintain results, clients need to return on a regular basis, which translates into better cash flow for the massage therapist. “You’ll get standing appointments,” Parkinson says. Cost of cellulite massage should reflect geographic and socioeconomic conditions.
Lypossage is a protocol based on lymphatic drainage, myofascial massage and complex physical therapy for lymphedema, and it works three problem areas, or zones, says Charles W. Wiltsie III, managing partner of Lypossage esthétiques International, LLC.
Zone 1 targets the body from the navel to mid-thigh. “This is the garbage dump of the body,” says Wiltsie. “Any dimpling, lymph congestion or lymphedema occurs here.” Women in any stage of the menopausal cycle are most likely to be candidates for this treatment.
Zone 2 focuses on the navel to the clavicle and arms for women with larger breasts, he adds. “We try to soften the pectorals. We do lymphatic work under the arms and on the front of the body,” Wiltsie says.
Zone 3 comprises the head, neck and face, and requires direct and indirect myofascial release. Clients often notice a downward trend in cellulite after five or six half-hour sessions, says Wiltsie.
The cost of Lypossage series—three times per week for six weeks—is $1,895, he adds.
Herbal body wraps cleanse the tissue underneath the skin, restore elasticity and hydrate skin, according to Caroline Larson, educator for M’Lis in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Ingredients, such as niacin and cassia, stimulate blood flow and break down toxins stored in connective tissue. The full wrap takes approximately two hours, often resulting in a loss of four to 12 inches per treatment, Larson says. Waiting six to eight hours post-treatment before showering allows the ingredients to continue working.
Body wraps can boost income and give the massage therapist a break from the physical stress of massage. “You don’t have to massage constantly,” says Larson. For instance, while your client is wrapped and relaxed, the therapist can perform craniosacral massage or some other treatment as an add-on.
Depending on location and overhead, a therapist can charge $1 per minute for body wraps. A series of four to six wraps, with four to seven days between each session, will bring about maximum results.
Machines that perform a type of lypomassage offer another option for treating cellulite. Originally developed in France in the 1980s, endermologie, a computerized massage technique of intermittent suction and motorized rolling, is FDA-approved for temporarily improving the appearance of cellulite, according to Rebecca Hausen, marketing, public relations and advertising consultant for Techno-Derm.
Hausen explains independent rollers rotate in opposite directions toward each other for a noninvasive, painless treatment. The rolling action works the inactive fat cell vigorously until it begins to shed excess fat, enters the bloodstream and is burned off. If the client performs isometric contraction exercises during the treatment, the therapy becomes more effective.
“Since lypomassage revitalizes the body’s fluid exchanges, unhealthy tissue layers are reconditioned and nourished so skin quality is restored and cellulite is smoothed away,” Hausen says.
Machines range from $24,000 to $43,000, depending on the model, and include a two-day, on-site training, video and ongoing support.
“This can be a profitable, turnkey solution for your business,” says Hausen. “Massage therapists complement their services with it because of its unprecedented consistency and depth of action.”
While endermologie does not replace surgical procedures, it will increase circulation and decrease cellulite, according to Don Vorous, owner of Pecan’s Day Spa and Salon in South Miami, Florida. “It increases lymphatic drainage by 500 percent,” he says.
After 16 treatments, clients should see results. Once or twice monthly maintenance visits help sustain the positive effects. While the client may want to focus on specific areas, a full-body treatment achieves the best results, according to Vorous.
A package of 16 visits costs $1,280, and includes a bodysuit that “allows the roller heads to operate on the skin and protects the machine from oils on the skin.” Thirty-minute treatments run $95, but the bodysuit must be purchased separately.
Steam treatments that incorporate Ayurvedic detoxification principles can attack cellulite at its source, according to Ira Roffel, vice president of marketing for Natural Health Technologies, Inc., the manufacturer of Steamy Wonder steam canopy.
“Your client will feel better and see results right away, and the full protocol will bring better results,” Roffel says. Twice weekly visits for four to six weeks are recommended for optimal benefit.
A “wrapless wrap,” steam acts as an “osmotic process,” says Roffel. “Impurities go out and 90 percent of the herbs go in. This is a healing process rather than just cosmetic.” Clients on a weight-loss program will burn approximately 600 calories per treatment, he adds.
While a steam tent with related products runs approximately $1,400, a massage therapist can recover this investment by charging $65 per treatment in addition to the cost of the massage session. Sale of home-use exfoliation gloves and skin polish enhances the client benefits and the therapist’s bank account, notes Roffel.
Far infrared technology, coupled with massage, increases circulation at the cellular level and produces a smoother look to the skin, says Brooke Taylor, marketing analyst for Sunlight Saunas in Overland Park, Kansas. “Some clients say that after the seventh treatment, they notice a difference,” she says.
Physicians who use this technology in wellness centers find the treatment “resonates with the body’s cells, dilates the blood vessels, cleanses the circulatory system and sends greater amounts of oxygen to the cells,” says Taylor. Additionally, far infrared saunas operate at a lower temperature than traditional saunas, making the experience more comfortable and effective.
“With this sauna, you sweat 20 percent toxins and 80 percent water,” says Taylor. “In conventional saunas, you sweat 3 percent toxins and 97 percent water.”
The initial investment starts at $1,800 and depends on the type and size of unit purchased. Used in conjunction with other services, sauna sessions can add value to your practice. “It’s a good differentiator,” says Taylor. She recommends charging $20 per 15-minute session and notes a package of eight 30-minute sessions could be priced at $260.
Light therapy, while typically used for the face, also targets hard-to-reach, cellulite-prone areas. “Red and infrared light focuses on increasing circulation to the dermis, bringing more nutrients to the area and stimulating lymphatic drainage, clearing the body of acids and toxins,” says Karen Williams, national training director for Synergie by Dynatronics. “Red/infrared light focuses on improving texture of the skin, increases collagen and elastin production and regeneration of the connective tissue by activating the ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in the cell.”
Length of a session varies depending on the area being worked, but the thighs, buttocks and stomach usually require 30 minutes. With the recommended twice weekly treatments for eight weeks with monthly maintenance, clients can expect to see and sustain results.
Light therapy equipment starts at $3,500, according to Williams. A massage therapist could charge $500 to $700 for a series of five to seven treatments.
Appropriate lubricant products enhance cellulite massage. Oils that contain lavender help to stimulate fat cells and expedite the process of breaking up the cellulite, according to Jean Shea, founder and CEO of BIOTONE in San Diego, California.
“Lavender is a beautifully scented oil that is relaxing and great for stress. It is toning, and has a revitalizing effect,” she says. “Other ingredients used in cellulite massage are herbs and natural products, such as seaweed, which is proven to be an effective cellulite fighter.”
Additionally, juniper and rosemary, both diuretic oils, stimulate blood and lymph flow, improve circulation and reduce swelling and water retention. “These qualities are important in relation to cellulite when you consider it is the result of fluid accumulation in the fatty layer of the skin,” says Shea. “This happens when there are problems in the microcirculation, and it’s believed to be associated with our hormones—especially estrogen.”
Massage therapists should look for ingredients that truly detoxify, according to Judith Bourgeois, marketing director at Shankara in Uvaldes, Texas. “Massage is so important for the success of the treatment. But you should stay away from chemicals that offer a quick fix and mask the appearance and cause of cellulite,” she says. “The product needs to stimulate circulation, support detoxification of fat cells and elimination with a slight toning effect.”
Bourgeois advises using products made with all-natural ingredients, such as assimilated herbal and therapeutic essential oils, with a structured water base. She encourages ongoing, at-home treatments as well. “Unless a person takes home the product and does it on a regular basis, the results won’t last,” she says.
Regular sessions key
Exercise, a healthy diet and hydration are recommended while undergoing any cellulite treatment. “You should drink one-half ounce of water per pound of body weight daily,” Vorous says. “If you are working out and having cellulite treatment, you should increase water intake by another 10 percent, but never to the point of discomfort.”
Cellulite does not appear overnight. So eliminating this problem takes time, patience and regular sessions. A healthy diet, habitual exercise and ongoing therapy—whether massage, body wraps, light therapy, endermologie, or steam and sauna—could help clients regain and retain a more attractive shape.
Phyllis Hanlon freelances from her home in Massachusetts and often writes articles for college, family, religious and health magazines. She regularly delights in the joys of massage. She most recently wrote “Marine Therapy: Treasures from the Sea” for MASSAGE Magazine’s March issue.