Sep 25, 2018

Is Cellulite Curable?

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Is Cellulite Curable?  - ZALEA Article Banner

By Chelsea Campbell

Cottage cheese thighs. Orange peel skin. Skin dimples. These are a few of the nicknames that we have given one of women’s most common and oft-hated imperfections: cellulite. It is reported that up to 90 percent of women have cellulite, which is why it is frustrating that it is treated as something that must be fixed instead of what it actually is: completely normal. However common it may be, many consider it unsightly and wish to rid themselves of their skin’s lumpy texture. Open a women’s magazine or beauty blog and you are bound to come across tips for reducing cellulite with creams, massage techniques, special leggings, diet tricks, and exercise tips, but do any of them actually work? Are we fighting an uphill battle against the unavoidable?
 
What Causes Cellulite?
Cellulite describes the dimpled, lumpy skin appearance of the skin that usually occurs on the thighs, buttocks, hips, and stomach. But what is cellulite, exactly? What causes it? Dr. Franziska Huettner, a board-certified plastic surgeon at Plastic Surgery Group of NYC, explains, “Underneath the skin, there’s a layer called fibrous connective tissue, which has fibrous bands made of collagen as well as elastin. When this tissue shrinks and shortens, it can cause indentations of the skin, and when the fat tissue then underneath is trying to protrude through it, that gives the cobblestone appearance.” 

Although the cause has not been definitively pinpointed, many experts believe that it has to do with any number of factors ranging from genetics, lack of exercise, nutrition, and/or hormones. The theory that it is hormonally driven tends to be the most plausible, as cellulite usually affects people after they have hit puberty and have begun to menstruate. It is much more common in women than in men, due to a difference in where fat is stored. 

Is There a Cure?
Cellulite doesn’t discriminate based on one’s weight, and even very thin, young, active women are prone to it. Because researchers have yet to determine what causes cellulite, it is difficult to treat and many claims by certain products to cure it are simply gimmicks. However, there are ways to reduce the appearance of cellulite or to keep it from getting worse. 

First and foremost is a healthy lifestyle which includes optimal hydration, a balanced diet, and regular exercise. Topical treatments like lotions and creams that contain caffeine or retinol can help somewhat to reduce the cottage cheese look, but anything applied to the skin will never penetrate deeply enough to actually eradicate cellulite. Dry brushing, scrubs, and massage can also help somewhat by promoting circulation and lymphatic drainage.
 
For a more serious approach, laser treatments that aim to increase circulation, shrink fat cells, and thicken skin, such as VelaShape or ALMA Accent, help the appearance of cellulite after three to four treatments, though they will not completely cure it. VelaShape combines infrared light, radio frequency, and vacuum in order to warm and stimulate the layers of deep dermal tissue, fibers, and fat cells. This, in turn, stimulates new collagen and elastin in the skin, which improves skin structure and texture. The Alma Accent also uses radio frequency to apply heat and resurface the skin, producing a smoother appearance.

Other lasers like Cellulaze and subcision treatments like Cellfina go underneath the skin to actually cut the fibrous bands that contribute to the puckered appearance when fat is unevenly distributed underneath. Without the tension and restrictions of the fibrous bands, the treated skin is able to smooth itself out. These types of procedures tend to produce the most dramatic and promising results, though it is likely that cellulite still may develop later on. 

Cellulite may always be a great unsolvable mystery, so if you are one of the many women who have it, take heart that you are in good company with the majority of the female population. If you are finding it hard to embrace your perfectly normal imperfections, then give one of the above treatments a try, and open up a discussion with a doctor about what is realistic for your goals. And if all else fails, remember that beauty standards and ideals come and go, but confidence never goes out of style. 

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