The Victoria’s Secret bathing suit catalogue is out, and I know many of you are thinking, “Ugh. How am I gonna lose this cellulite before summer?” Before you take out your credit card, read this. Post by Jeffrey Benabio, MD
Cellulite is the lumpy, dimpled appearance on women’s hips, buttocks, and thighs. It can rarely occur in men (usually with hormonal problems). It is not caused by being overweight — even underweight women have cellulite.
Cellulite results when fat pushes through connective tissue (the deep, thick, fibrous layer of the skin) creating a bumpy appearance on the skin’s surface. It’s not the fat that’s the cause, it’s the loose connective tissue in women that allows the fat to surface.
It is primarily caused by estrogen and by hereditary factors, which is why cellulite occurs exclusively in women (even overweight men do not get cellulite), does not appear before puberty (even if the child is overweight), and occurs even in thin, healthy women.
The number of treatments for cellulite is mind boggling. A quick search pulls up:
- Scrubbers and sponges
- Countless creams, lotions, and gels
- Endless dietary supplements and herbal remedies
- Massagers and rollers
- Compression or elasticized pants
- Exercise books, programs, equipment
- Electric muscle stimulators and vibrating machines
Treatments can cost hundreds to even thousands of dollars. But do they work?
Think about this: If cellulite was easy to eliminate, then why would even the richest celebrities still have it? Look at this photo of the Victoria’s Secret Supermodel Karolina Kurkova! How can this svelte supermodel possibly have cellulite?
Because, there is no cure for cellulite.
Why do many treatments appear to work?
Because cellulite is fat that is dimpled close to the surface of the skin, any treatment that pushes that fat deeper into the skin (including massage, rollers, wraps, lasers with suction, etc.) will temporarily improve the appearance of cellulite.
What about the much hyped pills for cellullite?
There are no published studies to show that any pill or supplement, including grape seed, primrose oil, fish oil, bioflavonoids, soya lecithin, dried sweet clover extract, and dried ginkgo biloba will have any significant impact on cellulite.
No cream or gel, no matter how potent, can penetrate to the deep layers of the skin to have any effect at all.
So what can you do to combat cellulite?
- Lose weight. I am not contradicting what I said above. Being overweight makes cellulite worse, so losing weight will improve its appearance.
- Exercise. Both cardio and strength training help keep your leg muscles pumped and minimize fluid (edema). This can improve the appearance of cellulite.
- Stop smoking. There is evidence that smoking might contribute to cellulite.
- Have your partner give you a good massage. It’s cheaper and more satisfying than going to a spa.
- Save your money. There are better things to spend it on than futilely trying to cure cellulite.
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