Summer is the season for swimsuits, shorts, sundresses and sandals, but cellulite could put a damper on your summer wardrobe. According to experts, the term cellulite refers to the dimpled or “cottage cheese” appearance of the skin some people have on their thighs, hips, buttocks and belly. Cellulite can be treated through various noninvasive procedures and natural methods, such as a healthy diet and exercise.
The 411 on cellulite
Cellulite gives the skin an irregular exterior appearance. “You can see cellulite when fat cells under the skin grow and push the skin outward,” says Dr. Julie King of King Aesthetics in Medford.
While cellulite is more common in women, King says anyone can get it. She explains estrogen plays a large role in the formation of cellulite, and is part of the reason why women get cellulite more often than men. According to Tamara Miller at Organic Elements Spa in Medford, women usually have more body fat than men, and as you age, you are more likely to reduce muscle mass and gain fat. “Estrogen starts decreasing as women approach menopause,” she says. “From 25-35 years old is when you begin seeing cellulite develop.”
Cellulite can also be hereditary. “If your parents have an increased amount of cellulite, you are more likely to have less muscle and more fat,” Miller explains.
While everyone has the potential for cellulite to surface, there are multiple methods which help lessen its appearance.
Aesthetic interventions for cellulite
For an over-the-counter option, King says there are topical cellulite treatments available. “You can use creams infused with caffeine that constrict the blood vessels and lessen the appearance of cellulite,” she explains.
Other noninvasive cellulite treatments involve supervised body contouring. King Aesthetics uses VelaShape, a technology that combines infrared light, bipolar radio frequency energy and vacuum. “Together, these cause deep heating of the fat cells, their surrounding connective tissue and dermal collagen fibers,” King explains. The heating and vacuum stimulate growth of collagen and elastin, which results in improved skin structure and texture. “It gradually smooths the skin’s surface and reduces the appearance of cellulite,” she says.
Organic Elements Spa uses a similar treatment, Synergie Aesthetic Massage System (AMS). “Synergie AMS aggressively attacks the fat in your body, helping to reduce the appearance of cellulite, while smoothing and tightening your skin,” Miller explains. “It even helps you to lose inches in the process.”
Miller says she’s personally impressed by the science behind the treatment. She says the method stimulates the skin to help improve blood circulation in the subcutaneous layer, or the fattiest layer, of the skin. The massage aids in releasing those fat cells through the lymphatic system, which helps eliminate the cellulite.
Miller and King note that while no one treatment may work for everyone, each procedure has produced benefits for many people.
King says you can minimize cellulite by following a good diet. “A diet low in carbs, sugars and starches helps you lose weight and dehydrate the fat layer,” she explains. “When the fat layer is hydrated and swollen, that’s when you see cellulite form. The more salt, sugar and starch there is in your diet, the more individual fat cells push out and cause dimpling. Exercise and eat right, and then add in treatments to optimize your results.”
Miller agrees diet and exercise are imperative in the fight against cellulite. “Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly is a great way to eliminate and prevent fat in the body,” she explains, adding that cellulite occurs when connective fibers underneath the skin become weak or lose their elasticity. However, stretching and strengthening those areas can help reduce cellulite. “While you can use noninvasive treatments to get started, you need to make lifestyle changes to maintain good results. These changes include reducing carbs and salt, and adding fiber to your diet,” she says.