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Caffeine phonophoresis versus shock wave therapy for adult women with cellulite: a randomized controlled trial



Cellulite is a widespread problem involving women’s buttocks and thighs (85% of postadolescent women). It is characterized by an irregular, dimpled skin surface with thinning of the epidermis/dermis and presence of nodular clusters of fat cells. Caffeine has anticellulite effect owing to its lipolytic activity in fatty cells. Moreover, shock wave therapy treats cellulite through improvement of cell permeability.


To compare between the effects of caffeine phonophoresis and shock wave therapy in the treatment of women with cellulite.

Participants and methods

A total of 41 women with bilateral cellulite grade 2 and 3 at their thighs (ages 30–45 years) were randomly assigned into two groups. The caffeine phonophoresis group received caffeine 5% gel phonophoresis with an intensity of 0.2 W/cm2 at a rate of 1 min/cm2, three times/week. The shock wave group received shock wave therapy for two times/week. The treatments were conducted to a randomly selected side (the contralateral side serving as an untreated control). The cellulite grade and skin fold thickness were measured before and after 4 weeks of intervention.


There was a significant decrease in the cellulite grade and skin fold thickness of the treated side of both groups (P=0.001). There was no significant difference between the pretreatment values of both groups (P=0.724 and 0.341, respectively), and no significant difference between the posttreatment values of cellulite grade and skin fold thickness of both groups (P=0.149 and 0.268, respectively).


Caffeine phonophoresis and shock wave therapy were equally effective in improving the cellulite grade and skin fold thickness in adult women with cellulite.


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Correspondence to Amira H. Draz PhD.

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Ashem, H., Draz, A. & Abdel-Aziem, A. Caffeine phonophoresis versus shock wave therapy for adult women with cellulite: a randomized controlled trial. Bull Fac Phys Ther 24, 66–71 (2019).

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  • caffeine phonophoresis
  • cellulite
  • shock wave therapy
  • skin fold caliper