Research Round-Up — Reverse Image Search & Cellulite Treatment

For today’s research round-up, I’ll be discussing google image search for self-diagnosis and long-term results from a device that treats cellulite. I found the first article extremely interesting because I, like most people, like to research my symptoms and medical conditions online. I have the advantage of being able to clearly formulate descriptions with the right medical terminology. However, for the average lay person who is not involved in the medical field, describing symptoms or a skin condition is difficult! The second article presents the 2-year results of the only device I know of that can actually treat cellulite. Unlike the “magic” creams and potions, this procedure actually works. Keep reading to get the full scoop.

dermatology research roundup featured-image

Google Search of Common Skin Conditions

When searching for information about high blood pressure or diabetes, patients can easily enter the words “high blood pressure,” “hypertension,” or “diabetes” into Google search. However, describing a new skin lesion such as a rash or mole is not so easy for a lay person. Dermatologists are trained to describe skin lesions with specific adjectives and medical terminology. For regular people without medical backgrounds and undiagnosed skin conditions, Google reverse image search may be a good place to start a search for more information about the condition.


Google reverse image search allows users to upload their own images so that Google can find similar images and web content. A recently published study used a set of 100 classic pictures of 10 common skin conditions to determine whether Google reverse image search could provide the correct diagnosis.

google reverse image search of skin conditions

Unfortunately, Google reverse image search was not very accurate. The correct diagnosis was missing for skin cancers in 20-30% of the top 10 images. For benign skin conditions, the correct diagnosis was missing 30-100% of the time.

The researchers did note that adding the word “skin” in addition to the image in the search bar increased the frequency of the correct diagnosis being within the top 10 results.

Perhaps, using the internet to self-diagnose a skin condition is not the best idea. I always recommend that you visit your dermatologist if you’re worried about any skin lesions.

Minimally Invasive Cellulite Treatment Lasts 2 Years

Usually, cellulite is permanent. Those dimples that mar the skin are stubborn and difficult to get rid of even through intense diet and exercise. Cellulite has a characteristic appearance of dimpled skin. This is caused by the formation of tough fibrous connective tissue bands around the fat that lies under the skin. Although it is very common and seen in about 85% of women, most women want to get rid of their cellulite.

Cellfina is a device that was developed to treat the appearance of cellulite. This device releases the fibrous connective tissue bands in the skin to treat the cellulite.


The most recent study on the Cellfina device followed 52 patients for 2 years after their procedure. (2) The researchers measured the improvement in cellulite using a Cellulite Severity Scale that they developed. The Cellulite Severity Scale is used by doctors to grade cellulite as none, mild, moderate, or severe.


Study researchers found that at the 2-year mark 85% of study participants still had improvement of 1 or more in the scale. This means that 46 of the patients improved at least 1 grade (i.e. from severe to moderate) from baseline. Additionally, the patients were almost all satisfied with their results at 2 years.

The authors noted that according to another review, non-invasive devices to treat cellulite don’t work. None of these methods have been proven. These include massage, laser, lights, and radiofrequency.

On the other hand, Cellfina is minimally invasive and results seem to last for at least 2 years. The evidence to support Cellfina’s results can be strengthened by conducting randomized control trials. These results should be viewed with a grain of salt seeing as the company that makes Cellfina sponsored the study.

Have you seen any interesting Dermatology research articles lately? Send me a message so I can feature it in the future!


  1. Ransohoff JD, Li S, Sarin KY. Assessment of Accuracy of Patient-Initiated Differential Diagnosis Generation by Google Reverse Image Searching. JAMA Dermatol. 2016;152(10):1164-1166.
  2. Kaminer MS, Coleman WP, Weiss RA, Grossman J. Tissue Stabilized-Guided Subcision for the Treatment of Cellulite: A Multicenter Pivotal Study With Two-Year Follow-up. Dermatol Surg. 2016;42(10):1213-6.

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