Who doesn’t want to look their best for as long as they can? Society puts so much pressure on us to look a certain way, but does it encourage us to feel well, think well and live a purposeful existence? How hard do you work at having your inner light shine so bright that you emanate truth and serenity wherever you go?
The purpose of this article is to define and discuss treatment options for cellulite, the relatively superficial and annoying bane of many a female thigh. With that in mind, I encourage each of you to strive to be a heavenly body as much as you do to have one.
Cellulite is simply old- fashioned fat. The word commonly describes superficial pockets of trapped fat between connective tissue bands which create dimpling or “orange peel” appearance to skin on the thighs, hips and buttocks. There is conflicting research about cellulite and what causes it. Dermatologists believe cellulite can be genetic, and many researchers think there is a hormonal explanation for its development.
Although the causes are unclear, in some cases, the presence of cellulite is considered to be a normal variant of development, but the following factors have been thought to play a role:
Genetics, skin thickness, gender, age, distribution of body fat, hormonal factors (not clearly defined and there are no hormonal treatments being used effectively for treatment at this time)
Cellulite can appear in anyone at anytime, even in teenagers—whether you’re overweight, normal or thin. Generally, it is more noticeable as you age because your connective tissues get thicker and your skin gets thinner. Exercises that work all your lower body muscles from every angle will help to replace lost muscle tissue and give you a tighter appearance. So work your quadriceps, abductors, adductors, hamstrings and gluteals, along with your inner thighs, and outer thighs to make cellulite less noticeable.
Men mostly escape the scourge of cellulite because they have a thicker dermis that acts like a natural “girdle.” In men, the pattern of connective tissue holding fat cells is a cross-hatch pattern with double reinforcement. In women, the connective tissue is patterned like columns, making it easier for fat cells to bulge out between those columns, unlike the small openings between men’s connective tissue.
Treatments for cellulite essentially work on appearance only. The surface dimpling is merely a symptom of cellulite. Actually, a treatment that could act beneath the skin would be much more effective than surface treatments, but to date most treatments are on the surface. Some commonly used treatments and their degree of efficacy include:
Dieting brings varied and unpredictable results, from improvement to worsening.
No proven benefit and these agents are not under FDA jurisdiction. No valid studies have been done. Ginkgo Biloba, sweet clover, fish oil, soy lecithin are the most commonly used herbal supplement which have been purported to change cellulite appearance by boosting metabolism, improving circulation, protecting against cell damage and breaking down fats.
Creams and Gels
Xanthines, retinoids, and alpha hydroxy acids in creams and gels are the most widely used treatments for cellulite. These products have been shown to reduce fine wrinkles or the roughness of facial skin, but no large-scale studies clearly have demonstrated the reduction of cellulite.
Covering the body with linens containing a variety of substances like herbal extracts, algae, seaweed and mud have been used for body shaping. The combination of compression and perspiration results in losing fluids temporarily. Body wraps are great for relaxation and skin softening, but they don’t reduce cellulite.
Endermologie® temporarily reduces the appearance of cellulite using a motorized device rolled over the skin for smooth and regulated deep tissue manipulation. This treatment employs the use of an electronically powered device that pulls, squeezes and suctions affected areas. The action increases blood flow and lymphatic drainage, helping to eliminate excess fluid and metabolites. On average, a treatment lasts for 30-45 min and it takes 10-12 treatments before results are noticeable. Regular maintenance treatments will be required, because any improvements are temporary.
It is the first process approved by the FDA for temporary reduction of cellulite appearance. Ongoing research and several clinical trials with Endermologie have shown some promise.
Electrical muscle stimulators (EMS) are prescription devices used in physical therapy for treating specific neuromuscular issues. Some of these devices combine direct current with ions of soluble salt and penetrate tissues for some therapeutic benefits. The FDA does not consider these tools effective for cellulite reduction.
There are 2 FDA devices that are being used which combine either topical suction or massage with light therapy.
A. Tri-Active- combines laser and suction
B. Vela-smooth combines laser and massage
Both are expensive (thousands of dollars) and afford only temporary reduction in cellulite appearance.
This is an invasive therapy used for removing fat from reserve fat layers, not the subcutaneous fat layer where cellulite resides. In fact, liposuction in the subcutaneous layer could cause profuse bleeding, swelling and scarring. Therefore, it is not usually recommended for treating cellulite. When large sections of fat are removed with liposuction, the appearance of cellulite is sometimes worse. Endermologie® is often used in combination with liposuction. There is a new combination of laser and fat manipulation called “Laser-Lipo” which reportedly dissolves fat and the deeply penetrating lasers tighten and thicken the skin. No clinical studies have been done on this new therapy.
Experimental treatments include Collagenase.
Collagenase is a naturally occurring enzyme in the body which breaks down collagen. Very preliminary studies have shown some benefit in the appearance of cellulite in a small number of subjects who were injected locally in affected areas. No long term studies have been done to determine the extent and duration of improvement.
Bottom line: Try to keep your hips, butt, and thighs strong and your skin smooth and no doubt, you’ll be one of very few to notice your cellulite.
Take care of yourself, so you can care for others. Do your best to be your best. The better you are, the brighter the world gets.
Disclaimer: This information does not serve as a substitute for individual medical care by a physician. This article is an informative guide to point you in the right direction. All product recommendations and advice are suggestions which may or may not work for your individual needs. Specific medical issues and concerns should be addressed by your health care provider. Patricia Perry, M.D. is a dermatologist in private practice in Southern California who can be reached for consultation at 2625 W. Alameda Ave., Suite 504, Burbank, CA 91505. Phone: (818)559- SKIN (7546).