AUSTIN -- Mention the word cellulite and watch most women cringe. That's because dermatologists estimate nearly 80 percent of them -- and even some men -- experience the problem at some point in their lives.

Now -- for the first time -- it may be possible to get rid of cellulite permanently.

Doctors say past cellulite removal procedures only provided a temporary solution.

While diet and exercise can certainly play a part in reducing fat, unfortunately neither affects the structure beneath the skin that causes it.

Now the Cellulaze laser procedure promises to do just that.

I had my son in 2005, said Bethany Parish of Lakeway. After that everything kind of started to fall apart, she said with a laugh.

One of her main concerns -- cellulite.

I started to notice that I couldn't really wear my short-shorts anymore, said Parish.

Cellulite occurs when the underlying tissue bands stiffen and the fat cells they surround enlarge -- pushing up against the skin and creating that cottage cheese effect.

Cellulite is something you're either stuck with it or you do something like this, said Parish.

Parish is referring to the Cellulaze laser treatment. Doctors insert a tiny laser fiber under the skin which gently heats and disrupts or melts the fat. Next the laser releases the fibrous bands that pull down on the skin and create that dimpling effect. Then its energy stimulates collagen production to increase the skin's depth and elasticity for a more even and healthier look.

The analogy I like to use is other treatments are a base hit, but this is a home run, said Gregory Nikolaidis, M.D., a dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology.

Nikolaidis says Cellulaze works because it address the root cause of the problem.

By going through or underneath the skin you're able to deliver that energy where it needs to be delivered, said Nikolaidis. Other processes we have you are shooting energy through the skin, but it's too difficult and it's too painful to do that at a very high and consistent level throughout.

For Parish -- who could never be persuaded to try any previous cellulite removal procedures -- Cellulaze produced the results she wanted.

I wanted something secure, she said. I wanted to know the results would be positive and I wouldn't come in a go, 'Oh I wish I hadn't done that.' If this can help me be able to get into my shorts again and to get out on the lake and feel really good about myself it's worth anything.

Cellulaze claims one treatment will last at least three years. Nikolaidis says it's possible it could last 5 - 10.

Because it is cosmetic surgery the procedure is not covered by insurance. One treatment costs about $5,000.

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