Conference Coverage

Enzymatic injections show durable improvement in buttock cellulite



Injection of collagenase clostridium histolyticum–aaes (CCH) for the treatment of moderate to severe cellulite in women’s buttocks demonstrated excellent durability of response at 6 months follow-up in an ongoing, 5-year, phase 3b, open-label extension study, Michael H. Gold, MD, said at Innovations in Dermatology: Virtual Spring Conference 2021.

Dr. Michael S. Kaminer

Dr. Michael S. Kaminer

However, outcomes in that study, as well as in the earlier pivotal trials, were assessed via physician and patient subjective assessments of aesthetic appearance. In a separate presentation at the conference, Michael S. Kaminer, MD, presented a different study evaluating the objective quantifiable effects of CCH on buttock cellulite dimple volume using three-dimensional imaging. The results, indicating that smaller cellulite dimples responded better than larger dimples, he noted, were unexpected.

Discussant Zoe D. Draelos, MD, who practices in High Point, N.C., and is a consulting professor of dermatology at Duke University, Durham, N.C., put the two studies in perspective, explaining that there are multiple challenges associated with the use of CCH to treat buttock cellulite, and dermatologists need to understand them in order to maximize the benefit.

“There’s definitely a market for this therapy,” she observed, noting the plethora of over-the-counter products and devices sold for removal of cellulite. “I think if you manage patient expectations, this will be a very, very successful procedure.”

In 2020, the Food and Drug Administration approved subcutaneous injections of CCH (marketed under the brand name QWO) for treatment of cellulite in women’s buttocks on the basis of the randomized RELEASE-1 and -2 trials. But while this is a new indication for CCH, it is not a new drug. The medication has been approved for years for treatment of fibrotic band contracture disorders, namely Dupuytren’s contracture and Peyronie’s disease. The mechanism of action for treatment of cellulite involves a process dubbed enzymatic subcision, in which CCH breaks down mature collagen and stimulates new collagen formation and fat redistribution in an effort to achieve smoother skin contour.

“This adds a whole new wrinkle to injectables available in dermatology. We have fillers, we have toxins, and now we have enzymatic subcision,” Dr. Draelos commented.

Durability of effects

Dr. Gold, founder of the Gold Skin Care Center and at the Tennessee Clinical Research Center, Nashville, reported on 483 women with moderate to severe buttock cellulitis who completed the 71-day, randomized, double-blind, phase 3 RELEASE-1 or RELEASE-2 studies and then enrolled in the open-label extension study. At the end of the randomized trial, 61.7% of women experienced at least a 1-level improvement on the Patient-Reported Photonumeric Cellulite Severity Scale (PR-PCSS), compared with 36.7% of placebo controls. The key finding in the interim analysis of the extension study: After the first 6 months, during which no one received any additional therapy, 52.7% of the CCH group still had at least a 1-level improvement in PR-PCSS, compared with the randomized trial baseline, as did 32.6% of controls.

Similarly, 63% of CCH-treated patients showed at least a 1-level improvement in the Clinician-Reported Photonumeric Cellulite Severity Scale (CR-PCSS) from baseline to the end of the randomized trial, and 52.7% met that standard after 6 months off treatment in the open-label extension. In contrast, the control group had response rates of 36.7% and 32.6%. There were no long-term safety concerns, according to Dr. Gold.


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