How can I treat or prevent cellulite?
Preventing cellulite is impossible. Women are genetically predisposed to develop cellulite since it’s the body’s way of storing fat. (In men, fat is stored differently.)
Cellulite forms when the skin’s connective tissues are overcome by progressive fat accumulation in specific areas of the body. Genes, ethnicity, and age play a large role in determining the strength of your connective tissues and the places where fat is deposited on your body. Even the leanest women, including elite athletes with only 6 to 8 percent body fat, can see some puckering on the more cellulite-prone areas of the thighs and buttocks.
Lose weight. If you go from being obese to normal weight—losing about 20 percent of your total body weight—you may notice a dramatic reduction in cellulite. But if you have any extra weight, even a slight reduction can improve the appearance of your skin.
Use creams. Apply an anticellulite cream and wear neoprene shorts. Creams with active ingredients such as caffeine (which tightens blood vessels) and retinol work best in combination with bio ceramic-coated neoprene shorts, which you wear for an hour a day. The shorts contain a clay-like substance that’s layered into the neoprene. They help retain body heat and open up the pores of the skin, allowing your body to absorb more of the cream’s active ingredient. Some women have found that this can diminish the visibility of cellulite by as much as 30 to 50 percent, but results vary widely because active ingredients work differently on every woman. Consult your doctor before using a cream that contains aminophylline, which may help break down fat cells but is also used to treat breathing problems and has been associated with hyperactivity and a rapid heart rate.
Avoid unproven products. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as lactic acid and glycolic acid only remove the superficial layer of dead cells. Citric, tartaric, or phytic acids, which are derived from fruits and plants, also work only on the texture of skin. Studies on the effectiveness of retinol have been inconclusive: The wrinkle fighter is used to improve the thickness of the epidermis and circulation to the skin, but it may not do much for cellulite.
Try a laser treatment. For more severe cases of cellulite, dermatologists use specialized lasers to rid the body of extra fat cells and help with the appearance of cellulite, but this remedy is expensive depending on the course and method of treatment.
—Mitchel P. Goldman, M.D., Dermatology/Cosmetic Laser Associates of La Jolla