For nearly nine in 10 women, and one in 10 men, cellulite is a harsh reality. There are countless creams, zappers, and alternative treatments on the market that all claim to clear your cellulite. More often than not, users are left disappointed — and still cellulite-ridden.
While studies show that there isn’t a ton of clear research on what cures cellulite, we have found out what doesn’t work, and what treatment methods are better than others. There’s also one surefire step you can take that has proved itself useful to rid of cellulite in the long run (hint: check out page 6).
This is what cellulite really is
We all know cellulite as the dimply, bumpy skin we’re itching to get rid of. It’s most commonly found on your thighs and buttocks but can occur in other areas like your hips and stomach.
Cellulite occurs when fat deposits push through the connective tissue beneath the skin called fibrous tethers. This is what creates the dimpled appearance. It’s the structure of the fat rather than fat accumulation that really causes cellulite. Somewhere between 80 to 90% of women have cellulite at some point. It’s more common in women due to fat distribution, muscle, and connective tissue.
So, what actually causes cellulite?
There are plenty of myths surrounding cellulite. The reality is that your genetics, hormone levels, and age are mitigating factors in cellulite development.
According to WebMD, hormones like estrogen, insulin, thyroid hormones, and prolactin affect cellulite production. Your age is an influencer as well; old age causes the skin to becomes less elastic, thinner, and more likely to sag. Other factors include your diet, activity level, and weight.
You can try to combat cellulite with creams
There’s an abundance of creams on the market that claim to reduce cellulite or make it disappear entirely. These creams either have ingredients that attempt to promote fat breakdown like caffeine, or contain vitamins and herbal extracts, according to WebMD.
While some evidence suggests that retinol cream helps reduce cellulite, the results aren’t great. “Mostly I think if these topical creams work — and I think most probably do little or nothing — they are more likely to help with slimming and body contouring, which is not the same as cellulite,” said Dr. David McDaniel, director of the Institute for Anti-Aging.
Altering your diet could help
Your diet alone won’t entirely influence cellulite, however, it can play a role in its development. Eat a well-balanced and plant-heavy diet to reduce inflammation and maintain a healthy weight. Drink water; staying hydrated keeps your connective tissue strong and can help you lose weight.
Nutrition consultants like Lori Shemek, Ph.D., recommend foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon. These omega-3s “reduce appetite and low-level inflammation and repair and strengthen skin tissue and fibers.” Dr. Shemek claimed that dark berries like blueberries and blackberries can ward off cellulite, too. They enhance collagen production which creates new skin tissue, improving skin’s tone and texture.
Massages are also a good assist
Some professionals claim that massaging a cellulite-plagued area will increase blood flow, reduce fluid buildup, and as a result, make the lumpy skin disappear. However, there’s one technique in particular that studies show can offer a short-term fix.
Endermologie is a type of mechanical massage. Supporters of this technique claim that the deep massage breaks up the connective tissue that causes dimpled skin. According to WebMD, while massage techniques like endermologie may make your skin look better for a bit, they generally offer no long-term benefits.
The only true fix: working out
People of all shapes, sizes, and ages have cellulite. Studies find that the most effective treatment, especially for those who’re overweight, is to shed the extra pounds and focus on toning, not cardio. Patricia Farris, M.D., and Molly Wanner, M.D., told Fitness Magazine why they recommend weight lifting to deter cellulite.
“Resistance exercise acts like fillers for your skin … If you lose weight and replace it with muscle, you’re going to have a fat layer that’s not as thick, and your cellulite is going to improve.” Sandy Liang, a personal trainer at Crunch, agrees; “With sufficient exercise, you’ll drop body fat percentage, earn lean muscle mass, and your body will eventually look firmer and tighter, reducing the obvious appearance of cellulite.”
Don’t try these alleged fixes
Some doctors and plastic surgeons suggest quick fixes like injections and liposuction to solve your cellulite problem. Studies show these aren’t the best for your health, and may actually make your skin look worse long-term. The injection procedure mesotherapy is used to “encourage breakdown and make cellulite less noticeable” and includes chemicals like aminophylline, hormones, and phosphatidylcholine.
Most doctors don’t recommend mesotheraphy because of its risk of infection, rashes, and lumpy skin. Liposuction is a fat removal procedure used primarily on the thighs, buttocks, and abdomen. A lot of doctors still suggest it, but it doesn’t work and can actually make skin look more dimpled by removing too much fat, Molly Wanner, M.D. said.
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