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Summer Cellulite Guide: Conceal, Minimize & Treat

May 03, 2017 02:00PM ● Published by Becca Newell

By Becca Newell

Surf and sand season is almost upon us, which means it’s time for that essential, yet often anxiety-ridden, task: finding the perfect bikini—or one-piece! For many women, the discovery of a cute swimsuit is often followed by the unfortunate sighting of cellulite. But there is some hope—and we’re not talking about beach-approved cover-ups. While dozens of treatments tout impractical results, there are a few techniques and procedures that experts suggest help to reduce the appearance of cellulite.

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There are many theories about the causes of cellulite, such as diet and obesity. However, it is more commonly believed that genetics and hormones play the greatest role in its development.


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Healthy Diet & Exercise

Maintenance of one’s ideal body weight, good hydration on a daily basis, and a healthy diet and exercise routine are simple ways to address cellulite before it appears, according to Lee A. Kleiman M.D., of Severn River ENT Plastic and Laser Surgery in Annapolis. If cellulite has already reared its ugly head, losing weight may be beneficial in reducing its appearance. However, that’s wholly dependent on skin’s elasticity. “If your skin bounces back after weight loss, you may notice a reduction in cellulite,” says Lisa Kates, M.D., of Center for Dermatology and Skin Care of Maryland. “If your skin isn’t quite so resilient, it can sag, which makes bumps look worse.”

 

Massage Techniques

The theory behind this cellulite-reducing technique is simple: massaging those dimpled areas helps to increase blood flow to the skin, reducing fluid buildup and breaking apart septae. While evidence doesn’t really support deep tissue massages or similar hand-massaging techniques, there are studies proving the effectiveness of endermologie—a rolling suction device that kneads skin. In one study, patients underwent the FDA-approved procedure twice a week for a total of 15 sessions. Results concluded that the well-tolerated method is mildly effective in improving cellulite’s orange-peel appearance. According to Kates, endermologie requires a minimum of six sessions, which range in cost from $50 to $350 each. “The subtle results could last up to a few months,” she adds.

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Roughly 85% of women over age 20 have cellulite. The lumpy, dimpled flesh on the thighs, hips, buttocks, and abdomen occurs when septae—connective-tissue strands under the skin that hold fat in place—isn’t tightly woven, causing fat to bulge out between strands that results in ripples on the skin’s surface.

—Lisa Kates, M.D., of Center for Dermatology and Skin Care of Maryland.


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Topical Treatments

Though results are only short-term, cellulite-reducing creams and lotions are often an effective solution. Kates suggests using creams with either caffeine or retinol. “Caffeine has a temporary tightening effect and helps bumps look smoother,” she says. “Retin-A or retinol can thicken the outer layer of the skin and make lumps less visible.” For maximum camouflage, Kates suggests combining a cellulite-reducing cream or lotion with the classic skin-perfecting trick: self-tanner.

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Retinol:
A form of vitamin A, research suggests the multi-tasking compound is effective in diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improving skin tone, and increasing skin firmness, among other youth-enhancing properties. Other forms of retinol found in prescription skincare products include retinoid—a compound derivative of vitamin A—and Tertinoin, or Retin-A—the first FDA-approved retinoid. All solutions work by killing old cells to promote new cell growth. As a result, side effects of treatment include redness and peeling of the skin.


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Longer-Lasting Solutions

Lasers and radio-frequency devices are the gold standards of professional cellulite treatments. According to Kleiman, one of the most successful treatments he suggests to patients is Viora, a non-invasive radio-frequency device that offers long-lasting results. Similar to endermologie, the procedure involves massaging and suctioning the skin to stimulate collagen production and alter septae. Some treatments also deliver therapeutic heat that helps to shrink fat cells. Viora is safe, relatively painless, and requires little to no recovery time. “You can expect to see up to a 50 percent reduction in dimples and results can last from six months to two years or longer,” says Kates. Treatment should be sought immediately, according to Kleiman, since multiple sessions are required and the total treatment time can take up to six months. The cost for each session ranges between $300 to $500.

Smartlipo, a laser-assisted liposuction treatment, is another option to remove stubborn lumps and bumps. “This surgery, which requires local anesthesia, involves inserting a tiny laser fiber under the skin to melt fat; a cannula then suctions it out,” says Kates. Results are typically seen after one session (about a two-hour period) and can last up to six years. The cost is about $5,000.

Cellulaze is a single-session, minimally-invasive treatment—often referred to as the first FDA-approved “cure” for cellulite—that involves inserting a laser tube under the skin, according to Kates. It’s currently awaiting FDA clearance. “Cellulaze uses a bidirectional beam to cut stubborn septae and liquefy fat cells,” she says. Results are long-term, she adds, with the procedure expected to cost, at minimum, $5,000 per area.

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