Most women experience the telltale dimpling on their thighs and buttocks regardless of body shape or size; even those skinny ones are not free of it. Genetics play a role in developing cellulite – if your mother has it chances are you do too.
Lifestyle factors such as whether you smoke, exercise regularly and expose your skin to the sun also contribute, and while there is nothing to totally erase cellulite, there are plenty of ways you can minimize how it looks and prevent it from getting worse. Let us first understand what cellulite is before we give you solutions.
What is cellulite?
The epidermis (the top layer of skin) is connected to underlying muscle by bands of fibrous tissue. Cellulite appears when fat cells bulge up against the epidermis while the fibrous bands pull down. This creates the “cottage cheese” look. Over time, your skin thins and becomes less elastic, and the dimpled look becomes even more obvious.
The body’s lymph system also plays a role. Normally it drains fluid from tissue to rid the body of waste, but fibrous tissue and trapped fat cells can block drainage. The trapped fluid can make skin swell, adding to the dimpled look. Nothing can erase cellulite, but the following steps will help keep it to a minimum and not looking so ugly.
Firming creams that temporarily smooth the skin need to be rubbed in daily. You should expect the appearance of cellulite to diminish slightly after about two weeks of regular use. These firming creams are many and are heavily advertised. Some are expensive and not all give noticeable results. There are mainly four types of creams you can buy:
- These rely on skin-polishing alpha-hydroxy acids to get rid of dulling surface cells so skin looks more even-toned.
- These use firming agents like seaweed and algae to temporarily tighten skin and smooth dimples.
- Caffeine found in coffee and tea has a diuretic effect that temporarily rids excess fluid from skin and this is the main ingredient in dehydrating creams.
- These use ingredients like caffeine and offer kneading tools to boost blood flow and temporarily rid skin of the bloat.
Follow a healthy lifestyle…
Lifestyle contributes to formation of cellulite so follow the following advice:
Use sunscreen. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays doesn’t just make your face age prematurely, it also contributes to cellulite. UV causes collagen, the tissue in skin that firms and plumps, to break down. Your best defense against UV rays is use of sunscreen all the time, not just on the face but also on all exposed body skin or where the dress is thin. Consistently using sunscreen is key to sun-induced cellulite protection. Use a sunscreen of at least 20 sun protection factor (SPF) when outdoors.
Apply antioxidants. They can help thwart collagen damage from UV rays, cigarette smoke, air pollution and even stress. Use antioxidant lotions with ingredients like vitamin C, green tea and soy.
Consider Retin-A. This prescription cream can be useful, since its been shown to help rebuild collagen. Its over-the-counter cousin, retinol, is less potent and takes longer to work, but is safer.
Eat right. If you are overweight, reducing body fat will lessen cellulite’s look. Following a healthy diet can help you lose weight. Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, and choose lean meats and fish. Also, watch salt intake and drink water throughout the day, at least eight glasses, to minimize fluid retention.
Tone your leg muscles. Toned muscles will make your legs and butt smoother and firmer. Strength training at least three times a week, focusing on the following common leg and butt moves, will help: leg presses (to tone quadriceps and butt), leg extension (for quadriceps), leg curls (for hamstring), hip adduction (for inner thighs) and hip abduction (for outer thighs). Allow 60 days to see full results.
Try massage. Try a deep form of massage like Endermologie that relies on a hand-held wand that kneads skin and stretches the “webbing” to help diminish the pulled-down look. Massage stimulation may also help lessen fluid buildup in tissue – a factor that can worsen the look of cellulite. You will need at least one session of massage a week to see the benefits. If you stop, benefits will fade.
Help from a dermatologist
After you have styled up your diet, started exercising and rubbed the best of creams and the troublesome lumps persist and you still wish to take other measures (and you can afford it), dermatologists have several high tech, sometimes invasive, options they use to minimise the appearance of cellulite. Not all dermatologists offer cellulite treatments and some of the treatments may not be available here so check them out. These include:
- These are collagen fillers used to plump dimples and results last a few months. Like all dermatologist interventions, this is an expensive procedure and only worth it if you have money to burn.
Lipotransfer. This invasive procedure takes fat from one area of the body and then injects it into the dimpled areas to smooth valleys. It is very, very expensive and results last up to two years.
Laser combination therapies. Using non-invasive lasers (ones that work below skin’s surface), dermatologists are able to offer cellulite reduction treatment. The theory is that these lasers (or other light sources such as radio frequency or infrared light) can heat tissue deep in the dermis and in doing so, stimulate collagen to rebuild and refirm the skin. The light sources are paired with kneading massage.
Pick of the month…
Published in February 2014 issue