Cellulite is dreaded by most women. But before you panic or waste cash on unfounded cellulite treatments, check out these facts.
Understand what cellulite really is
Cellulite is the term for lumpy, dimpled flesh on the thighs, hips, buttocks and abdomen. It can also appear on the arms and breasts. “Cellulite is enlarged packets of body fat deep beneath the skin pushed against the vertical connective tissue that surrounds fat cells,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, of Manhattan Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York City. “When the fat cells expand, it limits the space under the skin and puts pressure on the connective tissue. The pressure forces the fat against the top layers and creates the dimpled look.” This is the worst advice dermatologists hear about skin care.
Almost every woman has cellulite
“Cellulite is very common—93 percent of women have it!” says Dr. Engelman. “The first thing women with cellulite need to know is that they aren’t alone,” echoes Bruce Katz, MD, medical director of JUVA Skin & Laser Center in New York City. “The vast majority of women have at least some of these dreaded pockets of fat.”
Cellulite is harmless and not a disease
Although we hate it, cellulite is a completely normal and benign condition. “Cellulite is not the disease the media would have us think!” says Tanya Kormeili, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in private practice in Santa Monica, California. The Mayo Clinic says cellulite isn’t a serious medical condition but it can be unsightly and make you feel self-conscious about wearing shorts or a bathing suit. These are the tricks dermatologists recommend to look younger.
Exercise can help treat cellulite
“Since cellulite is fat, excess fat can contribute to the appearance of cellulite. Increasing muscle tone and exercising can minimize cellulite,” says Dr. Engelman. Dr. Katz agrees: “Generally, the key to alleviating cellulite is weight loss combined with building muscle. Muscle lies below the pockets of fat that strain against the skin and create cellulite. Smoothing the muscle should lead to smoother skin. Most women carry cellulite in their thighs and buttocks, so workouts emphasizing leg lifts, squats, and lunges tend to be most effective.” Dr. Katz says that in his experience, lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough to reduce cellulite to most women’s satisfaction. Some of the best cellulite treatments are nonsurgical and require very little downtime.