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Qwo: A Tale of Cellulite Woe

Jan 19, 2024 | Body Aesthetics

In July 2020, Endo Pharmaceuticals received FDA approval for Qwo as the “first and only injectable treatment for moderate to severe cellulite in the buttocks of adults,” as the company proudly proclaimed. To generate buzz, Endo launched a “Butt First” campaign in 2022 to encourage “honest conversations.” In 2023, Qwo was removed from the market, and Endo entered bankruptcy proceedings.

Endo failed to do its homework in all its haste to enter the market. Qwo reviews on RealSelf tell a sad tale: “Biggest regret of my life! Massive staining, bumps & lumps all over outer thighs.”

As a result, Endo Aesthetics’ Qwo was discontinued. Endo International plc announced that it would cease production and sale of Qwo (collagenase clostridium histolyticum-aaes) due to “market concerns about the extent and variability of bruising following initial treatment, as well as the potential for prolonged skin discoloration.” Ouch!

Despite certain study groups showing a modest reduction in bruising, none achieved a consistent level of reduced bruising to address market concerns adequately, the announcement continued. McKesson, the distributor of Qwo, can no longer process returns for the product as per the terms and conditions of the recall program because claims had to be submitted before July 7, 2023.

It’s another dark chapter in the battle of humanity against nature. Two cellulite treatments, however, do show some promise:

  • Cellulaze – Cellulaze received a 510(k) clearance from the FDA on January 20, 2012 as a minimally invasive cellulite treatment. Developed by Cynosure, a heat-emitting 1440-nanometer Nd:YAG laser, branded the SideLight 3D laser, liquefies extra fat while severing or relaxing the bands of connective tissue, or septae, that result in cellulite dimples. This one-time procedure costs $5,750 on average and has received a 67% “Worth It” rating on RealSelf.
  • Cellfina – Like Cellulaze, Cellfina is a surgical procedure that releases fibrous septae that cause dimpling and divots by subcision, which, as its name implies, is the cutting of fibrous bands residing under the skin. Cellfina uses vacuum subcision, while Cellurase relies on laser-assisted subcision. Cellfina has been promoted by the likes of Dr. Whitney Bowe on The Rachel Show (July 5, 2016), while receiving a middling “Worth It” rating on RealSelf, with just 41% saying it was worth it. That’s even worse than Qwo, which had a 43% Worth It rating. Neither treatment is/was cheap: Cellfina’s average cost is $3,875, while Qwo’s average was $2,731 (Qwo is no longer available; the data is only provided for comparison purposes).

Can anyone permanently free us from the surly bonds of cellulite? Let’s hope so.

Michael Tchong

Michael Tchong

Founder, Author, Adjunct Professor, Futurist

Michael is the founder of Toolhacker LLC, an innovation speaker and adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco, futurist, and author of “Ubertrends — How Trends And Innovation Are Transforming Our Future.” He is also the founder of four ahead-of-the-wave startups, including MacWEEK, Atelier Systems, CyberAtlas, and ICONOCAST.