prevent cellulite, cellulite cures
Got cellulite? So does just about every woman, no matter what size she is, and some men, too. Some people make their peace with it, comfortable knowing that paparazzi aren’t vying to take photos of them in a bikini any time soon.
Trying to get rid of your cellulite is another story. It starts by knowing exactly what it is and what the options are.
Cellulite is a little bit like upholstery, says Boston dermatologist Molly A. Wanner, MD. Picture pillowy fat attached to the skin by bands called septae.
In women, the septae pull straight down like a button on a cushion, making dimples. Men’s septae come in at an angle, disguising them. Guys also have thicker skin than women, helping to hide their cellulite.
“There’s no cure,” says Neil Sadick, MD, a Manhattan dermatologist.. “But there are definitely new things out there that can help.”
Gaining weight can add to your cellulite by making your fat cells bigger. More fat under the skin can make your legs look lumpier.
Losing weight can reduce the look of cellulite, especially in women who have a lot of extra weight to lose.
“If you have less fat, you’re going to have less cellulite, potentially,” Wanner says.
Weight loss isn’t the right approach for everyone, though. For women who are already at a healthy weight, dropping a few pounds can loosen skin, making cellulite more noticeable.
Caffeine and retinol are two ingredients in creams that aim to reduce cellulite.
In test tubes, caffeine and related ingredients shrink fat cells, though there’s scant evidence that these treatments work when applied to the skin, according to recent research reviews. Any improvement is likely to be temporary and minor.
Retinol may help stimulate collagen production in the skin, making it thicker and more elastic. Thicker skin helps make cellulite less noticeable.
In one small study, a cream containing .03% retinol improved cellulite when used for at least six months. The study found it increased skin thickness by an average of 2 millimeters on a treated leg compared to the skin on an untreated leg.
A treatment for cellulite called endermologie uses rollers and suction to knead the skin, improving circulation.
Treatments last for 10 to 45 minutes and are typically repeated twice weekly for several months. Wanner and Sadick say there’s little evidence that it works at reducing cellulite.
At the Doctor’s Office
Wanner says a number of machines are available through doctors’ offices that promise to treat cellulite without surgery.
Some cellulite machines, such as VelaSmooth, VShape, Venus Freeze, Thermage, and Accent XL, use radio wave energy. Others, including Smooth Shapes and Zerona, use lasers. Another group of machines, such as the Acoustic Wave Therapy system, use high intensity sound waves.
Lasers and radio waves work by applying heat. The heat is meant to firm and thicken skin, and it may help to melt some of the bulging fat underneath. Acoustic waves are high pressure waves that aim to break up the septae bands that pull down on the skin, creating dimples.
Most of these technologies require multiple treatments. The cost can range from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on how many times you go and which technology you choose.
Wanner says even using the best technologies, “about 25% to 50% of people may see an improvement of 25% to 50%, which may diminish over time.” It’s best to consult with your medical provider to see if you are a good candidate.