To be completely clear and transparent, almost everyone has cellulite. No matter how nutritious your diet or how regular your workout routine, cellulite is a normal part of having skin, and it usually isn't a sign of an unhealthy person (it actually has very little to do with weight at all). But with that being said, there's nothing wrong wanting to do something about your cellulite if it bothers you. Seeking treatment options for cellulite doesn't make you vain, and luckily there are a few options that are actually pretty effective. Ahead, Dr. Robert Centeno of Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute separates fact from fiction when it comes to getting rid of cellulite.
First, Try Topical Creams and Serums
Cellulite is subcutaneous fat (meaning: underneath the skin), that pushes up against the skin creating a dimpled appearance. It's most present and visible in the areas of our body that naturally have the thickest layers of subcutaneous fat—the buttocks and thighs—which also happen to be the areas of our body that get the least blood flow and activity thanks to sedentary 9-to-5 jobs.
But it's not just about fat. Hormones, as well as the structure and composition of the skin itself, play a role in the appearance of cellulite.
Hormone-wise, estrogen is a double-edged sword. Estrogen in women actually creates fat and causes existing fat cells to grow larger, which of course makes cellulite more prevalent. But decreasing estrogen levels in women affects blood vessels, meaning less circulation and a related decrease in collagen production, which results in even more pronounced lumping of subcutaneous fat. Because estrogen levels in women begin to decrease in their mid 20's, continuing into menopause, this is why women start to see the appearance of cellulite in their 20's.
Some topical creams and lotions that claim to fight cellulite might help, but they will work only for so long as you’re using them. “Over the counter products and massage may temporarily improve the appearance, but ongoing treatments are necessary to maintain it. If you stop, the appearance will return to baseline,” Centeno cautions.
Try Vacuum and Rolling Treatments
Cellulite can't go away completely, but certain treatments can lessen its dimpled appearance on the skin. “Cellulite can be improved temporarily with combination treatments that include vacuum and roller treatments with radiofrequency,” says Centeno.
Those treatments target the connective tissue which, in women, is largely to blame for the appearance of cellulite, and the reason it's more prevalent than among men. Centeno explains, “women have fewer and vertically-oriented fibrous attachments that connect the skin through the fat to the underlying fibrous layers and muscles than men.”
In men, the fibers are crisscrossed more like a chain-link fence. The chain link scenario is stronger and fat cells can be held in better because the matter is dispersed across the links. In women, however, the fat builds and gets pushed up to the surface between the fewer vertical bars. In other words: there is less "net" to contain the fat cells, so we actually see that bumpy fat puckering under the surface of the skin.
Book a Laser Treatment
The truth is, with cellulite, it's more about reducing its appearance (or preventing it to begin with) than actually eradicating it. You can't exactly banish its existence altogether because we all have fat cells in our bodies and the structure of female collagen fibers will never be the strong chain link fence for fat cells that they are in men. This is why even 85 percent of women have cellulite (it has very little to do with your weight).
“More permanent reduction or improvement in appearance can be achieved with laser treatments such as CelluSmooth or CelluLaze. None of the treatments completely eliminate the problem but can help,” says Centeno.
Try Radiofrequency to Stimulate Muscles
Cosmetically, Centeno says laser treatments provide the best and most long-lasting improvement at this time, with about 40-50 percent improvement. “No one gets a 100 percent improvement," says Centeno. "Radiofrequency devices are continuously being refined to improve the effectiveness of the treatments without downtime. We still don't have a silver bullet.”
You can also prevent cellulite by maintaining regular physical activity, though Centeno addresses the undeniable role of genetics. “Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to reduce your risk of forming cellulite or it worsening, but these practices cannot completely overcome a genetic predisposition. There is a genetic and anatomic predisposition to getting cellulite which can occur even if your diet and exercise religiously,” he says.
Still, building muscle mass and tone can help reduce the look of cellulite because unlike fat, muscle is smooth and firm (compared to lumpy fat) thus making skin look taut.
Cellulite is also less visible on darker skin, so a spray tan or self-tanner will help reduce the look of dimples while you're working on your food and fitness.