Cellulite is to the body what acne is to the face. There’s no hiding it, celebrities never seem to get it, and, at times, it seems impossible to treat. With so many cellulite creams, serums and tools crossing my desk, I wonder how much of it (if any) actually works to smooth out dimpled bottoms and thighs.
“The challenge with cellulite is that it develops when fat cells protrude through the thin fibrous connective tissue that exists between the skin and the underlying muscle,” says cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank. “With age, sun damage, and weight fluctuations, dimples and depressions in the skin will reveal more surface irregularities no matter how thin a person is.”
Cellulite Treatments: What’s Out There
Products that target cellulite tend to fall into one of two categories: topical or physical. Topical creams, like Lierac Paris Morpho Slim ($55, skinstore.com), use caffeine to dehydrate fat cells so they aren’t as prominent under the skin’s surface. Physical products, like Bliss Fatgirlslim Lean Machine ($145, blissworld.com) and mybody’s Smooth It Out Shaper, which comes in the mybody Fitting Room kit ($245, iderma.com), aim to increase circulation and promote lymphatic drainage, which firms the skin.
Although Dr. Frank believes caffeinated products do tighten the appearance of skin, he says the result is temporary and only upon application, meaning you won’t see long-term smoothing effects down the road. And as board certified dermatologist Dr. Rebecca Baxt says, the amount of anti-cellulite products on the market is a telltale sign that nothing works well.
“If one actually worked, we would all be using it!” says Dr. Baxt.
Can Cellulite Be Avoided?
While the beauty industry would have us believing it can, doctors seem to sing a different tune. “I don’t think it can be avoided,” says Dr. Baxt. “Either you get it or you don’t, and I don’t think there are great ways to treat it. I do think living a healthy lifestyle can potentially help some people if they are overweight and the cellulite came when they gained weight; i.e. maintain a healthy weight, exercise, eat healthy, drink lots of water.”
“Like most aspects of aging, we cannot totally avoid cellulite — especially with the genetic propensity to have it,” says Dr. Frank. “But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be fought every step of the way to minimize and treat it.”
What Really Works?
Another possible route down the bumpy road of cellulite reduction is a trip to your doctor’s office. “The hot thing for cellulite now is called VASERsmooth,” says Dr. Frank. “The device irons out dimples and tightens skin from the source of the problem underneath the skin, rather than from the outside like other technologies. Because it is performed under local anesthetic the procedure is minimally invasive and safe.”
Dr. Jeffrey Rapaport believes Cellulaze, a laser treatment might be the answer to long-term cellulite reduction. “It is proven and reproducible. It addresses the three components of cellulite: expansion of the subcutaneous fat, fibrous septae and dermal atrophy and laxity. The satisfaction rate is very high in my patients,” says Rapaport.
Another way to address cellulite is to camouflage it. Spray tans and creams with light-reflecting particles are both great at minimizing the look of minor cellulite.
Another option is one you might not like, but it’s worth considering. “Just ‘live and let live,’” says Dr. Baxt. “By which I mean, leave it alone. It’s not bothering you, don’t bother with it. You can chase it with a lot of time and money and get very little improvement.”
While the images we’re fed of celebrities is that of sun-kissed perfection, it isn’t reality. Stars like Cindy Crawford and Victoria Beckham have admitted in interviews to having less-than-perfect thighs. I personally like Blake Lively‘s attitude, which she revealed in an interview with Allure: “I obviously have plenty of imperfections on my body, but I’d rather have a little bit of cellulite and go do a food trip and try every ice cream place in the South.”
Read more: 10 Steps To Summer-Ready Legs