A problem that has long plagued millions of women, cellulite (the condition is less common in men), is one beauty-related issue that seems to bother most of us. In fact, most women will stop at nothing when it comes to improving the look of lumps and bumps on their legs. “Cellulite is formed by fibrous bands that naturally run through adipose tissue (fat),” explains Miami dermatologist Joely Kaufman, MD. “It can be found in those who have a normal, or even subnormal, BMI—just because you have cellulite, does not mean you are overweight. The etiology is still somewhat unclear, but the fact that so many more women have cellulite than men leads us to believe that it is a hormone-driven phenomenon.” Cellulite, which affects 90 percent of women, doesn’t just live on the thighs either—it can also occur on the butt, as well as the stomach, and even the arms. But, it’s most rampant on the thighs because we tend to store the most fat there. “The human brain is geared toward noticing irregularities in contour, therefore cellulite is noticeable to the human eye. Women find these irregularities unsightly, which can lead them to feel self-conscious,” says Sugar Land, TX, plastic surgeon Ankur Mehta, MD.
Cellfina is the newest anti-cellulite treatment on the market and it works to reduce the look of it by physically cutting the fibrous bands that cause skin to dimple. The treatment is said to work best on skin that has dimples, as opposed to skin that has an orange-peel texture or wavy look. “Cellfina is a newer device that is showing much promise. It’s minimally invasive and breaks up the attachments to the overlying skin, releasing the divots seen from cellulite,” Dr. Mehta says. The results and improvement in the skin last about three years or longer.
Cellulaze is also a minimally invasive treatment that targets cellulite on the body, but it’s different in that it uses a laser to melt fat and break up the attachments to the skin while increasing collagen production. The areas of concern are marked up by your doctor before a few small incisions are made (local anesthesia is used), in which the laser is inserted to break up the fat and release the fibrous bands. The one-time treatment takes 60 to 90 minutes to perform, and it’s not uncommon to have some bruising and minor pain afterward. You can see results in the first few months, but they will improve over one year.
Treatments like VelaShape, which uses infrared laser, radio-frequency and vacuum suction; Venus Legacy, a radio-frequency treatment with suction; and SmoothShapes, a laser- and light-based device used to give skin a smoother look, may help to some degree. They also require multiple treatments to see results and chances are, the cellulite will recur. One procedure that won’t help cellulite isliposuction, as it can create skin irregularities. “If there is fat with the cellulite, liposuction can be used,” says Chicago plastic surgeon Julius Few, MD.
Denise Harris, fitness instructor at Banana Skirt Productions, says the best leg-toning exercises are a mix of moves like squats, goblet squats, forward and reverse lunges, glute bridges, and lateral band walks coupled with many repetitions, some cardioand weights. “Toning not only builds muscle and strength, but also sheds fat,” she adds. “Adopting a workout with higher repetitions and lower weight paired with aerobic exercises helps give you a leaner muscle-to-fat ratio and a more toned look.” When there’s more muscle than fat, cellulite is less likely to occur. Plus, the legs overall will look firmer and more toned.
Self-tanner can do wonders for hiding the look of cellulite. But in order to reap the benefits, self-tanning expert James Read says you need to first exfoliate your skin two days before you plan to tan, and wax and shave a day in advance. “You also want to make sure the areas where you’re applying the tanner are moisturized so you can get an even tan,” he adds. “To help maintain the color, moisturize daily, which will allow your tan to last longer and fade evenly. If you need to shave, use an electric razor, which won’t remove the color.”