In short, there is no cure for cellulite. But there is certainly no shortage of magic potions and procedures claiming to banish cellulite using the latest miracle ingredient or technology. The variety of options include cellulite creams and cellulite treatments that involve massage and wraps and mesotherapy.
In our series of articles on cellulite, we investigated the underlying causes of cellulite as well as different diet and lifestyle tips for reducing the appearance of existing cellulite. Here, we take a look at the cellulite creams and cellulite treatments on the market to determine if any of them will work for you.
The most common anti-cellulite products on the market come in topical cream or gel form and can be found anywhere from the local drug store to the medspa and dermatologist’s office. But, since topical cellulite creams only address the skin, you can expect less than remarkable results.
The main ingredients in these topical solutions generally have diuretic effects to help skin appear tighter and more toned. This is why you’ll often see formulas touting caffeine from sources like coffee and green tea.
Other popular ingredients include botanical extracts to help improve blood flow and reduce water-retention for smoother looking skin; antioxidants for anti-aging benefits; and botanicals and vitamin C for skin tightening and collagen support. Some formulas even include a self-tanner to help skin appear smoother and less dimpled.
There are two ingredients that have show some promise in the fight against cellulite: retinol and aminophylline. Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, can help increase the production of collagen, thicken and smooth skin. According to a small study, a retinol cream of 0.3%, applied twice daily for 6 months showed visible improvement in the appearance of cellulite.
Aminophylline is an organic compound traditionally used for the treatment of asthma. When applied in a topical solution, aminophylline purportedly works to break down fat cells. A study conducted in 2007 used aminophylline as a 0.5% cream, applied twice a day for 12 weeks to obtain significant results.
While some specific ingredients have demonstrated anti-cellulite properties, cellulite creams are not clinically proven to work. The reason? There is no medical standard for measuring cellulite. As a result, there is no baseline measure for cellulite loss.
Regardless, many people do report seeing smoother skin and a diminished appearance of cellulite using cellulite creams over time. But, most formulas need to be applied once or twice daily, taking 4-8 weeks before seeing best results. Keep in mind that these benefits are only temporary and the product must be continued in order to maintain results.
Remember, cellulite creams don’t affect the underlying layers of tissue and fat that cause the visible signs of cellulite so results will only be temporary and superficial.
Topical cellulite creams can run anywhere from $8 per tube up to $100 per jar, depending on the brand and ingredients.
A wide range of cellulite treatments are available including wraps, massage and mesotherapy.
Wraps. Wraps and vigorous scrubs are based on the idea of moisturizing the skin and increasing circulation to the area so that the body can eliminate the fat cells and the skin is plumped. Generally, the scrubs or massage oils contain herbal ingredients and stimulants. This helps increase blood flow to the area, plumping up the skin for a temporarily smoother look. Those with sensitive skin should be wary of ingredients to avoid skin irritations.
Wrap treatments often use heat blankets to help “detoxify” the body. The sweating that occurs is typically responsible for any water weight loss and temporary slimming effects.
Wraps and scrub treatments cost from $75 up to several hundred per hour and work best for special occasions.
Massage and Endermologie. Endermologie is a cellulite treatment option that utilizes a device with rollers (for massage) and valves (for suction). The different components rotate and lift the skin in order to stimulate the body into producing collagen and elastin, increasing blood flow, breaking down fat cells in the area and improving lymphatic drainage. Vigorous massage techniques work to obtain similar benefits.
Massage and endermologie treatments can last between 30 minutes and an hour per treatment and start around $50 per session. Treatments must be ongoing, with endermologie requiring 1-2 treatments per week until desired results are achieved, and then once per month for maintenance.
Mesotherapy. This non-surgical cosmetic procedure uses multiple injections of a cocktail of vitamins, pharmaceuticals, homeopathic formulations, herbals, botanicals and other ingredients that are designed to break down fat cells. A topical numbing solution is used for pain during the procedure, as the solution is injected into the mesoderm, the layer of fat underneath the skin. The solution ingredients often vary and the results are inconsistent.
The average cost for the treatment is upwards $1,200. For cellulite treatment, a minimum of 3-4 treatments are needed, at 3-4 week intervals. Light bruising and swelling are expected, but side effects can also include hardening of the treatment area, itching, numbness and skin irritations.
What Cellulite Treatment is Best?
With such a wide variety of cellulite treatment options out there, choosing what is best for you will depend on your budget and willingness to commit to the treatments.
One thing is certain, you can’t cure cellulite but your best bet is to combine your favorite treatment with an effective cellulite diet and exercise plan. And if that isn’t enough, surgical procedures are available with very promising results.
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.