Everyone wants the magic cellulite treatment. Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee you will get rid of cellulite, but there are treatments available that can reduce its appearance and tighten up the skin.
Cellulite refers to the dimpling of the skin, mostly on the thighs and buttocks. We sometimes refer to is as “cottage cheese thighs”. Cellulite consists of a network of fibrous connective tissues with fat pushing through the little fibrous bands to cause the “cottage cheese” look of cellulite.
Research confirms that women get cellulite far more often than men, probably because of differences in our connective tissue structures. Some theorize that it may be related to diminishing estrogen n women. Hormones and collagen production help us maintain healthy, elastic skin and, when not balanced, cause cellulite to increase. Whatever the reason, then fact that 90% of women and so few men struggle with cellulite is just not fair!
You can try to avoid cellulite by avoiding constant fluctuations in your weight, the skin-damaging effects of smoking, and exposure to the sun. Once you have it though, there are simply no known ways to eliminate cellulite entirely. But methods for cellulite treatment abound.
Many of the cellulite treatments are expensive; many of them do not live up to their advertising and marketing claims, and none of them offers lasting results. So be realistic about your expectations. A discussion about your various options for traditional cellulite treatment and new cellulite treatments follows.
Surgical cellulite treatment:
Liposculpture – Liposculpture is the only cellulite treatment for permanently removing the fat cells that cause it. It is a high-precision form of liposuction that targets the tiny offending fat deposits and is much less invasive than general liposuction. Tiny incisions are made in the skin and a saline-based anesthetic solution is injected to numb the area and soften the fat cells. Using microcannulas, the surgeon will loosen and suction out the fat. Most patients agree that Liposculpture cellulite treatment improves the appearance of the skin. You may experience some swelling, tenderness, pain, and/or bruising in the affected area, but that usually goes away after a few days. Liposculpture will cost anywhere from $1,200 to more than $5,000. This is usually just for the doctor’s professional fees and doesn’t include other costs such as the use of the facilities.
RejuveSkin – RejuveSkin is a recently developed surgical cellulite treatment. Incisions are typically made in your body’s natural creases under the buttocks or in the groin area. The surgical cellulite treatment uses a special instrument, called a dermasector, to cut and release the hardened mesh-like fibrous connective tissue responsible for cellulite’s dimpling effect. Any remaining dimpling in the treated area is filled in with tissue grafts harvested from your own body and the area is manually smoothed out by the surgeon. The usual surgical risks are possible, including bleeding, infection, scarring, and anesthesia problems. You may also need a second surgery to get the results your want. Swelling and tightness in the treated area may last 7 to 10 days, and bruising may last from 2 to 8 weeks. A compression garment which is similar to bicycle shorts should help reduce swelling. In the majority of cases, results appear to be permanent with this method of cellulite treatment. However, the procedure is very new, so no long term scientific data is available. Costs for this procedure average between $3000 and $4500, depending on the size of the areas being treated, and the amount of cellulite you have.
Non-surgical cellulite treatment:
There are also several popular non-surgical fat removal techniques that appear to work equally well on cellulite. Some of these cellulite treatments may create dramatic improvements without the need for invasive surgery.
Thermage – Thermage uses radio frequency technology to deeply heat the tissues underneath your skin to encourage natural collagen growth and tighten skin. Because it heats so deeply, Thermage often only takes one treatment to tighten your loose skin and can be completed in an hour. You should see tighter, smoother skin immediately and the tightening effects of this cellulite treatment will continue for months afterward. It is best for small areas of fat and can cost from $2,500 to $9,000 for a single treatment. Patients say there is no soreness or pain. However, there have been reports of patients having redness, swelling, blisters and pain lasting for several days. Thermage cellulite treatment is FDA-approved.
Endermologie – This was the first treatment approved by the FDA that claimed to reduce cellulite. It is a machine with 2 rollers and a gentle suction action that kneads the skin and fat, theoretically reducing cellulite. Endermologie is a temporary cellulite treatment; if you stop the treatments, the cellulite will probably return within a few months. Some patients claim it’s painful and doesn’t work while others compare it to a deep massage and see noticeable results after 10 to 20 treatments. One session will cost around $100 and will last 30 to 40 minutes. To see any results, you will need to have this cellulite treatment done once or twice a week and most patients require 14 to 28 sessions. The average cost for a treatment package averages $1,600.
Accent XL by Alma – Another of the new cellulite treatments, this laser device uses radiofrequency energy to target fat cells in the skin (similar to VelaShape). The fat is absorbed by the body and removed in your urine. Circulation is improved and the bands of tissue are tightened. The device is said to be particularly effective for upper thigh cellulite, requires fewer treatments, and offers longer-lasting results. The Accent XL device has been approved by the FDA for cellulite treatment in the U.S. There is an extremely low risk of side effects and patients describe the feeling like a virtually painless warm massage. The costs for Accent XL range from $2,000 to $6,000. For the best results, you will need 5 consecutive treatments, spaced 3 to 4 weeks apart, and maintenance treatment every 9 to 12 months.
Mesotherapy – Mesotherapy procedures are popular with women for cellulite removal. This non-surgical liposuction method relies upon the injection of a cocktail of fat-dissolving compounds into the middle layer of fat beneath the skin. The chemical combination “melts” the fat and the body naturally flushes the fat cells through urination over a few weeks. Mesotherapy cellulite treatment is also called “injection lipolysis”. There are various cosmetic procedures (e.g., Lipodissolve™, Lipostabil™, Flab-Jab, lipotherapy, lipozap, etc.) which are all forms of mesotherapy. The difference between them is in the mixture of the injectible solutions. It may be safe (unless you are allergic to one of the 30 chemicals in the injected substance) but is said to be painful. However, any bruising or swelling ordinarily clears up in a few days. It can take months to see the results from mesotherapy cellulite treatment. You can expect mesotherapy treatments to range from $300 to $1,500 per session and you may need three or four sessions before you see results. The U.S. FDA has not approved the use of mesotherapy treatment and warns of potential serious side effects.
SlimLipo Laser Liposuction – SlimLipo claims to be superior to and safer than older laser liposuction procedures. The name “slim” actually means something; it stands for “specific laser induced melting”. Because it uses flexible fiber optics, the strength of the laser beam can be reduced. This reduces the likelihood of internal and external injuries from the strong laser heat. There is also less bruising. SlimLipo may offer a noticeable improvement in the appearance of cellulite by tightening the skin. The average price for this cellulite treatment is about $4,500.
SmoothShapes – SmoothShapes is one of the newest methods of cellulite treatment and is a combination of laser and light energy, massage and suction. Elemé, the developer of the technique, calls their technology “Photomology”. The laser and light energies move the fat out of the fat cells, allowing it to be absorbed by the body. Massage with contoured rollers and the suction (or vacuum) system helps stimulate blood flow to the treatment areas. All of this works to reduce the appearance of cellulite and stimulate your body’s natural collagen to help smooth and tighten your skin. The results are apparently longer lasting than other cellulite treatment methods. Patients say it feels like a deep tissue massage and slightly warms the skin. There is no downtime and you may see results after one treatment. The cost of SmoothShapes cellulite treatment is approximately $1,800. Generally, you will need treatments once or twice a week for four weeks and maintenance treatments once or twice each year.
VelaShape – VelaShape is a device that effectively and safely contours, shapes and slims your body by reducing cellulite and firming problem areas in as little as 4 treatments. This non-surgical, non-invasive cellulite treatment is basically a radiofrequency (RF) and infrared light device with a mechanical vacuum massager. It has been shown to work for tightening and smoothing skin. The heat from the RF and infrared light stimulates the fat cells, causing them to gradually shrink. When the pockets of cellulite shrink, the contour of your skin improves and cellulite dimpling is reduced. VelaShape is said to be more powerful than Endermologie and requires less treatment time. You will need one 30-minute session each week for 4 to 6 weeks, with maintenance treatments every 6 months. You may be able to see improvements in the cellulite in as few as four sessions. The most common side effect is bruising and it only lasts for a few days. There is a chance for scabbing or blistering and this usually occurs for people with very loose skin. The price of VelaShape cellulite treatment ranges from $1,000 to $4,000, with an average of $1,700. The U.S. FDA has approved VelaShape (and its predecessor, VelaSmooth Cellulite Treatment) for temporary cellulite reduction and temporary reduction of thigh circumference.
Acoustic Wave Therapy – This relatively new non-surgical cellulite treatment uses acoustic pulses to smooth the dimpling of cellulite. Treatments take about 30 minutes and you will need them twice per week for about three weeks. Noticeable improvement may take several sessions but some patients feel it is effective. The best results will be seen by patients who are in general good health and near their ideal weight. Some patients report slight discomfort, redness, and bruising in the treated areas. Each cellulite treatment session costs about $150 to $300, making the total cost for the lower body between $1,000 and $3,000.
TriActive Laser Dermology – This therapeutic massage cellulite treatment method uses three actions to smooth loose dimpled skin – suction massage, laser stimulation and cooling. TriActive is said to enhance circulation, resulting in a tighter appearance in the treated areas. The treatment is painless. When done in a series of 10 to 15 treatments at least one to three times per week, TriActive may reduce the appearance of cellulite and improve the contour of the body. You will also need maintenance treatments. The average cost per treatment is $100 to $150, and you may be able to find a discounted price for a package of 10 or 15 sessions.
Ionithermie – Ionithermie for cellulite reduction has been popular in Europe for some time. It relies on your body’s natural detoxification process to produce smoother skin and less cellulite. Originally developed to treat arthritis, this cellulite treatment incorporates a body wrap with herbs, clay and minerals (including seaweed, algae, kelp, etc) which is said to increase blood circulation and help detoxify the body. This is followed by stimulation with a negative/positive ion device, or pulsating electrical energy, that goes deep into the skin’s layers to contract the tissues and stimulates the nerves and muscle fibers. After this, some hand massaging is done. All of this may help reduce the appearance of cellulite overall. About five Ionithermie cellulite treatments are recommended. Check with your local salon or spa to see if they offer Ionithermie treatments (average $150 to $200). You can also purchase a kit for home use (between $250 and $300) to use in between professional treatments.
Proellixe Whole Body Vibration – Some say vibration machines like Proellixe can cure your cellulite in just minutes a day. It is thought to help break up fat deposits and help reduce the appearance of cellulite. The vibration also targets other muscle groups, resulting in a more toned and healthy overall look. You simply remove your shoes and sock, step on the platform, and vibrate. You do not work up a sweat but apparently increase your metabolic rate and get a good workout. Some say that twenty 10-minute sessions equate to one hour of strength training. Reportedly, NASA astronauts, athletes and dancers benefit from whole body vibration. Check with your local salon or spa to see if they offer the Proellixe machine.
Do-it-yourself cellulite treatment:
Topical creams and lotions– There are a variety of non-prescription creams or lotions on the market that one rubs into the skin and are advertised as being able to melt fat, in other words cellulite treatment without surgery. One highly-touted product is Revitol Cellulite Cream. It claims to contain natural ingredients that can reduce fat beneath the skin in two weeks with no side effects. Some researchers believe these are simply topical diuretics, causing the loss of fluid from the tissues rather than fat loss. Their effectiveness is unproven.
Skin brushing – Some doctors claim that brushing your skin can help control your cellulite because it helps to stimulate the nutrients and oxygen in your skin, making them come to the surface. This stimulates blood flow, exfoliates your skin, and promotes the growth of new cells. This cellulite treatment is nearly cost free because you do it all yourself! All you need is a natural bristle body brush which cost no more than about $10. You start low on your body, brushing upward toward your heart in long strokes. Concentrate on cellulite-prone areas but don’t be too rough or you could irritate your skin. The whole process should take no longer than 5 minutes.
Dietary supplements - These are recommendations from doctors and nutritionists contributing to healthy cells and healthy connective tissue (collagen & elastin). When collagen and elastin are strong and healthy, your skin will be firmer. This should help reduce the appearance of cellulite.
- Glucosamine – a building block for collagen and elastin. This is a dietary supplement.
- Lecithin – for cell walls. Aside from the powdered granules, you can find lecithin in eggs, soy products, tomatoes, spinach and cauliflower.
- Essential Fatty Acids – Eat olive oil, cold water fish, and raw walnuts. You can also find alpha linoleic acid (an Omega 3 Fatty acid).
- Antioxidants – These can be obtained from raw fruits and vegetables; the darker and brighter the color, the more it’s packed with antioxidants. Blueberries, blackberries, red peppers, pomegranates and citrus fruits are great sources.
There is great controversy over whether or not these cellulite treatment techniques are safe, reliable, or provide satisfactory results. Be sure to consult your doctor before deciding on any method of treatment. Also, there is a lot of information about cellulite treatment on the internet. Search for before and after pictures and photographs. Inspect them to see what may be possible with proper treatment. In your search for a qualified professional to perform the procedure, be sure to ask the doctor specifically for photos of his or her own patients so you can see how successful he or she has been with the various treatments.