Cellulite accounts for a frequent source of low self-esteem and frustration for anyone who is battling with those unwanted ripples and dimples on the thighs, buttocks, and abdomen, but separating the fact from fiction when it comes to defeating cellulite can be a difficult task. With treatments ranging from surgical procedures to herbal teas, M&F talked to Dr. Michele Green, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City, to make sense of it all.
Fact: More Women Tend to Develop Cellulite than Men
“According to the American Academy of Dermatology, cellulite affects 90% of adult women in the United States,” says Dr. Green. “There is a genetic predisposition for women to develop cellulite. Women naturally distribute and store more fat on the thighs and buttocks than men. There are also differences in the distribution of muscle and connective tissues between men and women. But, while fat cells contribute to the appearance of cellulite, individuals of any weight, size, age, and sex can develop cellulite.”
Fiction: Everyone Notices Your Cellulite
While we are all constantly seeking perfection, the presence of cellulite should not impact on your ability to hit the beach, have fun, or feel confident. In fact research by Goldincision, a cellulite treatment developed for doctors in Brazil, suggests that insecurities around it are often exacerbated by women themselves, rather than potential male partners. Of those asked, only 8% of respondents believed that men have more negative reactions to cellulite than women.
Fact: Cellulite Is More Difficult to Shift than Fat Alone
Many people invest a great amount of time and energy in order to burn off cellulite like regular fat, but it really is more difficult to shift. “Cellulite is formed when the fibrous bands known as the septae; the connective tissue that joins muscle and skin, cause fat to protrude, resulting in the dimpling of the skin,” explains Dr. Green. “As these fat cells increase and expand, they bulge towards the surface of the skin while the fibrous bands pull back against the fat cells. Therefore, it is impacted by three biological factors: fibrous bands, skin laxity, and fat cells. While losing weight can help soften the appearance, it cannot be cured or rid of permanently. Cellulite is a complex condition influenced by such factors as hormones, aging, and environmental stress.”
Fiction: There Are Plenty of Quick Fix Solutions Available
While supplements that are high in antioxidants, such as green tea, may help with the reduction of cellulite, the idea that you can simply eliminate it by popping pills or drinking teas alone is incorrect. “Any teas or tablets that claim to be a quick detox fix to cellulite do not work,” says Dr. Green. “Many ‘detox’ teas and supplements claim to help with weight loss, and many people believe that fat is directly correlated to the development of cellulite. But, while losing weight and strengthening muscles can help improve the appearance, it will not get rid of it completely. Furthermore, the healthiest and most effective way to lose weight is through a healthy diet and daily exercise, and incorporating ‘detox’ teas alone will not help with weight loss. Sometimes, losing weight can increase skin laxity, or loose skin, and can exacerbate the appearance and make it more noticeable. Cellulite is a complex condition with a variety of contributing factors including genetics.
Fact: You May Be Able to Improve the Appearance without Medical Intervention
“There are no permanent solutions to cellulite, but there are anti-cellulite creams that help temporarily improve the appearance of cellulite,” says Dr. Green. “These creams typically contain ingredients such as caffeine, retinol, vitamin E, vitamin C, and botanical extracts like ginkgo, centella, and pineapple. These ingredients aim to hydrate and plump the skin, improve firmness, and improve elasticity. Continued and diligent use of anti-cellulite creams is key for improving appearance, and improvements will likely require at least three months of consistent use.” However, Dr. Green says that anti-cellulite creams may not be suitable for more severe cases.
Fiction: The Medical Establishment Has No Answers
With professionals such as Dr. Green at the forefront of helping people find better outcomes, now is an exciting time as far as current and future treatments. “VelaShape is a non-invasive body contouring treatment that reduces the appearance of cellulite,” says Dr. Green. “VelaShape utilizes infrared light (IR) and bipolar radiofrequency (RF) energy combined with vacuum suction and deep tissue massage. This heats the fat cells and connecting tissue, allowing for the regeneration of new collagen and elastin to improve skin texture. The combination of suction and deep tissue massage helps stretch out the fibrous bands that contribute to the appearance of cellulite. The benefit of this quick procedure is that it does not require downtime, but the results are temporary and require maintenance treatments.”
She adds that “Thermage FLX is a gold-standard skin tightening procedure that utilizes radiofrequency (RF) energy to stimulate collagen synthesis. Skin laxity or loose skin can worsen the appearance, so tightening the skin on the buttocks and thighs with Thermage can improve the fine lines, folds, and sagging that naturally occurs with age. This non-invasive RF treatment has no downtime, can be combined with other treatments like VelaShape, and can be done yearly to maintain the best results. QWO was the first FDA-approved injectable cellulite treatment with the active ingredient collagenase clostridium histolyticum-aaes, which is an enzyme that breaks apart the fibrous bands that cause the dimpling of cellulite. Endo Aesthetics, the maker of QWO, has recently ceased the production of QWO, but its FDA approval remains, so it is possible that QWO may return in the future, or another version of collagenase-based treatments may be created.”
So, there you have it. There’s no quick fix, but you can find genuine improvements by taking care of your body, keeping your hormones, muscle tone, and weight in-check, and by exploring a range of established treatments and procedures without resorting to liposuction. But most of all, don’t forget that you are your own worst critic, so don’t let cellulite get in the way of enjoying yourself come the summer time!