All About Cellulite

The bane of most women’s existence… I have more requests to “fix” cellulite than most anything, and frankly, I really wish I had the magic bullet. If I did, I’d buy it. Then I’d name my 60+ foot sailboat “Cellulite” and retire… but, I don’t. I am writing today about what cellulite is, the 100+ things “they” say you can do to improve or remove it, and what I really think is the best method for treatment.

Cellulite is not just extra fat, and it is not only a problem for larger people. In fact, it’s much more common in smaller people; women much more so than men. (I know – UNFAIR!) There are many factors that come into play, and I am not sure they are all fully understood. In my mind, there are four main components.

  • Dermis – the dermis is a layer of the skin, much thicker in men than in women. It decreases in thickness with age and weight fluctuations. I find that (although this is not scientifically tested) women who have the worst complaints of cellulite appear to have thinner dermis.
  • Fibrous bands – this is connective tissue that literally attaches your skin to your body, and with a thin dermis and decreased elastin, fat can prolapse or herniate into the areas between these attachments and cause a dimpled, orange peel-like look, resulting in less than smooth skin.
  • Hormones – I believe hormones play a role in cellulite – as I mentioned earlier, men rarely have cellulite, so I am chalking some of this up to estrogen/progesterone etc.
  • Muscle atrophy – as with all things, as we age, we lose muscle volume. The reason most 16-18 year old girls don’t complain about cellulite is because they are active and running all over the place and full of elastin with the best dermis they’ll ever have – and although they are chock full of hormones, they aren’t beginning to have declines in them. With full plump muscles, the skin has a better support mechanism and the fibrous bands are not obvious.

Myths: I am not going to spend a lot of time on this but I just read one website that suggested eating Diatomaceous Earth to detox and get rid of cellulite…REALLY?? I used to put that in the filter of my pool. Please don’t eat dirt.

Here are some other “miracle” treatments:

  • Every cream known to man, caffeine body wraps, massages and dry brushes. My thoughts on these: creams hydrate and make your skin look better. Massages and dry brushes help with circulation and make your skin look better. Caffeine body wraps dehydrate your skin and make you feel thinner – and who doesn’t feel better when they look a little thinner? The bottom line for these is they are expensive and very, very temporary.
  • Endermology and Wellbox—high tech massage, very time intensive and expensive, but they help with circulation and make your skin look great. Unfortunately, this will provide you with temporary improvement at best. Your results will go away as soon as you stop the treatments.
  • Smooth Shapes is a laser treatment that is getting pretty good reviews in the plastic surgery community. I am still not sold yet, though, because it doesn’t treat the worst type of cellulite and in the court of public opinion, Google said it has a “53% worth it” ratio.
  • Liposuction doesn’t treat cellulite, and I feel that it can sometimes make it worse.

Okay, so what does work? Here’s the bad news: good old fashion clean eating and exercise – specifically strength moves that increase and maintain the muscles in your lower extremities. By building your muscles, it supports the structures that are lax and in need of help… and keep in mind, I am not talking Hulk Hogan weight lifting style, I mean lunges and squats, etc. I know it’s not what anyone wants to hear, but it’s the truth. And I promise, when and if someone ever comes out with a tried and true answer to cellulite, I’ll be right back to tell you all about it!

Live well.

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