Cellulite got you down? That dimply, cottage-cheese like skin on your butt and thighs can be frustrating for some and downright humiliating for others – especially when you spend hours at the gym trying to make it disappear. Before you drive yourself crazy, here’s what you should know about cellulite – and what you can do about it.
What Is Cellulite, Anyway?
The lumpy, bumpy skin we’re talking about is caused when excess fat presses up against the vertical connective tissue (the “fibrous septae”) that surrounds fat cells in the body, creating a bulging of the fat cells. Imagine your skin pushing through fishnet stockings; the dimpling effect is similar. While cellulite can occur anywhere on the body, it is most frequently found around the thighs, hips and buttocks – meaning that come bathing suit season, it’s not an easy thing to hide!
Sorry, ladies: Cellulite is much more common in women, affecting nearly 85 percent of all women at some point in their lives, usually before age 40. Cellulite tends to be less common for men, mainly because their outer layer of skin may be thicker and more resistant to the “push” of overwhelmed septae, or because of hormonal differences.
While science can explain how cellulite develops, it still can’t say why. Many scientists point to hormones as the reason, while other research suggests that poor hydration or even quick weight loss and gain, perhaps by yo-yo dieting, may also add to the condition. By and large, though, genetics are the biggest factor of all, predetermining when dimpling begins and how extensive it becomes. Therefore, if it runs in your family, there may be nothing you can do about being predestined for cellulite.
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Should I Spend More Time at the Gym?
Sadly, extra hours at your spin class or with the treadmill can’t guarantee you a cellulite-free lower body. And don’t be fooled by any of the following “cures” that won’t help: Liposuction, which actually may make your cellulite worse; an anti-cellulite diet (no change in diet will affect your cellulite); or anti-cellulite lotions or creams. Topical solutions like this usually include caffeine in the ingredients, which can tighten and firm the skin for a temporary improvement in appearance, but it’s by no means a cure.
There is good news
A number of treatments to help minimize cellulite’s appearance and improve the skin’s surface do exist today. FDA-approved VelaShape® uses radiofrequency energy (RF) and infrared light energy to stimulate fat cells and gradually shrink them, while a mechanical vacuum massage works to smooth out the skin. Reportedly, in addition to minimizing cellulite dimpling, VelaShape may reduce the circumference of the treated thighs by about an inch in some cases. Side effects include bruising or swelling; repeated VelaShape treatments are needed to maintain visible results.
Another option is Cellulaze™, a minimally-invasive laser technology in which a small tube is inserted directly under the skin, directing laser energy at the fibrous bands (“septae”) and diminishing cellulite’s structure. Collagen growth is boosted which helps for thicker, tighter looking skin; improvements can usually be seen right away, with optimal results stabilizing three to six months after treatment.