In the list of body woes, cellulite tops the list time and time again—so does the eternal question: Does anything really work to totally get rid of it? According to New York dermatologist Marnie B. Nussbaum, MD, while there is no cure for cellulite, there are several options available that can help lessen its appearance and improve your skin’s look and texture.
The Diet + Exercise Link
Like pretty much everything related to your body, a balanced diet and regular exercise routine play an important role in the fight against cellulite, as both are directly linked to healthy skin.
Then there’s the water connection. Besides drinking lots of it, eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content combats bloat and flushes away excess salt. “Watermelon is one example. It has plenty of antioxidants, which prevent the breakdown of collagen and elastin—two things that give skin its support,” Dr. Nussbaum says, adding that she recommends avoiding refined carbohydrates and choosing whole grains as well. The reason? Refined grains (white bread, white rice, cookies) cause the blood sugar level to spike, resulting in insulin jumps that tell the body to store fat, which could potentially push through the collagen fibers, worsening the lumpy look.
But the bad news…There’s that pesky genetics-hormones factor that plays into cellulite, and there’s not much you can do about that. “Even avid fitness buffs get cellulite due to hormonal changes and genetics,” says Dr. Nussbaum.
For Temporary Relief
Dr. Nussbaum says that caffeine-containing topical creams evenly distribute water among the fat cells and get rid of excess water, which makes the skin look smoother for a few hours. “Antioxidant creams can temporarily ameliorate dimpled skin as well,” she adds.
Treatments to Try
It is important to note that many doctors will agree that none of the current in-office treatment options (including all of the below) are permanent, none achieve 100-percent resolution, many may need more than one session, and no treatment works for every patient. “These can only temporarily achieve a reduction in appearance of cellulite,” says Dr. Nussbaum. “Expectations must be realistic and tempered with doctor guidance, depending on each candidate. Research is clearly needed to discover a cellulite treatment that is highly effective with longer results.”
Infrared and Radio-frequency Lasers: Use heat to tighten the collagen bands and break up fat cells, giving a potentially smoother look.
Ultrasound: Can be used to target pockets of fat, in conjunction with lasers, to tighten collagen bands. However, results are temporary and not permanent.
Subcision: A treatment that includes having a surgeon use a needle to physically break up the collagen bands under the skin, but research has shown that it is not always effective and causes bruising and pain.
The Bottom Line
A healthy lifestyle, including drinking lots of water, eating fruits and vegetables, and getting enough sleep and exercise are your best tools to combat cellulite. And as for some of those crazy cures (the massaging pants, the compression leggings) you’ve heard about? “They are not viable treatments for cellulite,” says Dr. Nussbaum.
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