What is cellulite?
If you’ve seen dimply, lumpy skin around your thighs and buttocks, you’re not alone. In fact, over 80% of women experience this skin effect, called cellulite, sometime in their lives. There are many different ways you can reduce the appearance of uneven, dimply skin. Most cellulite treatments take time and consistency to work, but if you’re dedicated, you will see results.
Cellulite happens when certain fat deposits under your skin are pulled downward toward the muscle by strong connective tissues, resulting in an uneven, dimpled, orange peel-like skin. It most likely appears in the thighs, buttocks, and stomach. However, it can also show on your arms, breasts, or anywhere there is fatty tissue. Cellulite is generally harmless, although in severe cases, it can cause pain due to poor circulation in the area.
Women are more likely to experience cellulite than men. That’s because men’s and women’s bodies distribute muscle, connective tissue, and fat differently.
Genetics, hormones, and the aging process can also play a part in the formation of cellulite. As you age, your skin loses elasticity and thickness, causing it to sag. Even people who are very slim or physically fit can develop this frustrating skin condition.
Other factors that could cause cellulite include:
Treatments for cellulite
There are many treatments that promise to reduce the appearance of cellulite. Creams and lotions that contain active ingredients promise to rid you of the lumpy, orange peel-like skin. Other at-home remedies also have shown success. Some studies suggest that a combination of treatments could yield the most satisfying results. Whatever option you choose, remember that it takes time and consistency to see results.
Medicated creams and lotions
- Retinol. Retinol is an active ingredient that thickens the skin over time, which can reduce the appearance of cellulite. Use a cream with 0.3% retinol for best results. Since retinol is an active ingredient, it may cause dryness, redness, or irritation. You may need to use the cream for six months or longer to see results.
- Caffeine. Caffeine is another ingredient shown to help diminish cellulite. It works by increasing circulation to the area and dehydrating the skin cells, which can help lessen the appearance of cellulite. Lotions containing caffeine need to be applied daily to see results.
As with any new lotion use, always do a patch test first on a small area before applying. This helps rule out any allergies, reactions, or skin sensitivity before you apply the lotion to a larger area.
If you’d like to try to reduce cellulite at home, consider these treatments:
- Exercise and diet. Eating a healthy diet rich in nutrients and exercising regularly can help improve the skin’s appearance. Doing cardio (activities that elevate heart rate) will increase your circulation, reduce body fat, and help remove toxins from the body. Increasing your muscle size and strength can help the skin appear firmer and toned too.
- Coffee grounds. Using leftover coffee grounds to exfoliate your skin has recently become popular. Combine the coffee grounds with a natural oil, like olive oil or coconut oil. Rub the mixture onto your skin in a circular motion. This method can improve circulation and the skin’s texture, but it hasn’t been scientifically proven to remove cellulite.
- Dry brushing. Use a natural body brush or loofah for this technique. Brush your skin in circular or long, upward-sweeping motions. This method can help improve circulation, promote detoxification, and stimulate new cell growth. It’s also a great exfoliator.
Other therapies exist; however, each one comes with its own results and risks. Decide with your doctor what the best course of treatment is for you.
- Acoustic wave therapy. A gel is applied to the skin, and a device is placed over the skin. This device sends sound waves into the skin, which can break up the fat pockets that cause cellulite.
- Laser treatment. A small laser fiber is inserted into the skin. When the laser is fired, it breaks up the muscle fibers that pull the skin downward to create a dimpled appearance. This treatment can also thicken the skin, which is key to reducing the appearance of cellulite. Cellulite often shows up on thin skin. Laser treatment is a minimally invasive procedure.
- Radio frequency. This procedure combines massage, suction, heat, and radiofrequency to reduce cellulite.
These procedures all require multiple sessions over time to see results. Other procedures such as CoolSculpting and liposuction are popular. And while they can be effective at getting rid of unwanted fat, they haven’t been shown to reduce cellulite.
- Subcision. A surgical procedure called subcision has been shown to reduce cellulite. A doctor inserts a needle just under your skin to break up the fibrous bands that cause cellulite. A local anesthesia is typically used.
- Vacuum-assisted precise tissue release. Another similar procedure involves the doctor cutting the fibrous bands with a small blade. As the tissue heals, it moves upward to fill in the dimples.
The results of these procedures have been shown to last two years or longer. The side effects can include bleeding under the skin and pain.
Skin Problems and Treatments Resources
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Board of Cosmetic Surgery: “CELLULITE TREATMENTS.”
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology: “Cellulite: An evidence-based review.”
Dr. Axe: “Top 10 Unexpected Uses for Coffee Grounds.”
EndoSystems: “The EndoSystems Complete Guide to Understanding and Treating Cellulite.”
Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology: “Efficacy of cosmetic products in cellulite reduction: systematic review and meta-analysis.”