The 411 On Cellulite

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Women look at their thighs and sigh. “What can I do with this cellulite?” they ask. They have tried everything—dieting, exercise, liposuction and other, more exotic treatments; nothing seems to work. What causes these cottage-cheese or orange-peel thighs and arms?

Cellulite is simply normal fat beneath the skin. It pushes against the connective tissue in our bodies and looks lumpy. That’s why it’s normal and there’s not really much that you can do about it.

It’s sad, but true.

Women get cellulite much more frequently than men because our fat tends to accumulate in the thighs, buttocks and lower abdomen. And the news gets worse; genetics seem to play a large role in cellulite development. An inactive lifestyle, weight gain and pregnancy can cause cellulite to seem more prominent. Other things such as a poor diet, fad dieting, slow metabolism, hormone changes, dehydration and thickness and color of your skin play a role in how cellulite shows up on your body.

What can you do?
Certain treatments seem to work better than others in diminishing the appearance of cellulite. Nevertheless, the treatments typically last for a few months or up to a year. As with any medical procedure, check with your doctor first.

Acoustic wave therapy employs a handheld device that uses sound waves to break up the cellulite. The appearance of cellulite is reduced, but several treatments are needed before results appear.
Cryolipolysis is a noninvasive procedure that freezes and kills fat cells. Three treatments can improve your body, but it will take three to four months to see improvement.

Ionithermie is a spa treatment that applies algae or clay to the area to be treated. Then electrodes are attached to the area and the area is wrapped in plastic. During the treatment, a mild electric current is applied. Up to ten treatments may be needed to show results.

Laser treatments mix massage, liposuction and light therapy. The treatment liquefies the fat, cuts the connective tissue, boosts collagen growth and skin tightening, increases blood flow and lessens fluid retention. Thickening of the skin is important, since the skin will often thin, allowing cellulite to form. Results last about six months.

In a similar treatment called Cellulaze, the doctor injects a numbing solution into the area. Then she puts a laser under your skin, which shoots heat in three directions. With this treatment, you will see about a 75 percent improvement that will last for about a year.

Massage therapy improves the appearance of the skin by increasing blood flow and reducing fluid buildup. EndermologieTM is a mechanical massage conducted by a suction machine that rolls the skin between two spinning rollers.

Shockwave therapy uses the same idea as the technology used in kidney stones, but at a lower intensity. The results last for two to six months, but the research is still out on the long-term effects.

What really works?
Guess what? If you are overweight, recommendations are to lose the extra pounds and work out. No surprise there! Eat less. Add more cardio and strength training. Lift weights at least two days a week, but even weight loss and exercise won’t make the cellulite go away completely. Still, strong defined muscles under a thinner layer of fat will make your skin appear smoother.

Subcision, also called subcutaneous incisionless surgery, is a minimally invasive procedure with results lasting up to two years. The doctor numbs the area and inserts a small knife or needle to cut the connective tissue that holds the fat in place. Cellfina makes the procedure more precise. About 20 to 30 individual dimples are treated in a one-hour session.

Topical creams generally don’t work. When used with other treatments, they may help a little. Retinol cream, 0.3 percent strength, applied twice daily for six months will thicken the skin and reduce the orange-peel look. Patients with asthma want to avoid using any product with aminophylline as this can cause breathing problems.

Treatments to avoid
Mesotherapy or injectables are chemicals used to promote the breakdown of fatty tissue and make the cellulite less noticeable. Rarely do these treatments work and they can cause infections, swelling, rashes and lumpy skin. Liposuction is popular for fat removal on the thighs, buttocks and abdomen yet it can make the fat left behind look worse, so consult your plastic surgeon about treatment.

The Skinny
Many women embrace their bodies and ignore those things which they can do little about. Genetics plays a role in how much cellulite we have on our bodies and where it is located. What works? Lose weight and tone those muscles. Again, the cellulite doesn’t go away, but the skin will look better and you’ll be healthier. ■

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