Cellulite Solutions — Oh Yeah, We Went There

Orange peel, cottage cheese—call it what you will, but cute descriptors alone don’t sugar coat the fact that the vast majority of women (almost 90 percent) have some degree of jiggle in the thighs and hindquarters. Yes, we’re talking about cellulite, that corporeal scourge that affects women — not men, jerks — and all the evidence you need to prove that the fairer sex is the butt (literally) of one big cosmic joke. Both lean and full-figured ladies exhibit the trademark lumps and bumps, which is your first clue that diet alone doesn’t determine the amount of dimpling you’ll get. No, that honor goes to your mother and genetic destiny.
“Cellulite affects so many women, you can almost say it’s normal,” says Neil Schultz, a Manhattan dermatologist and the creator and host of DermTV. The cause of all the puckering: the fat that pokes through the connective bands (called fibrous septae) that run between the skin and muscles. Think of the buttons on a chesterfield; the fibrous septae are the anchors, while the stuffing (fat cells) push through any open apertures.
So, now to the bad news: Despite all the marketing hoopla, there is no permanent cure for cellulite — yet. But there are plenty of temporary fixes that (briefly) improve its appearance. The results may be modest and the changes minimal, but for many of us, we’ll take what we can get. Before investing in any gizmos, gunk, or procedures, take the time to ferret out the regimen proven to deliver the biggest dent to your dimples. Fortunately for you, we've done the hard part for you and scored all the deets on the latest skin-smoothing treatments. From a handheld body buffer to an in-office machine all the derms are raving about, read on to learn what works and what's just a waste of money.
Photo: iStockPhoto
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HoneyBelle Body Buffer

The Spiel: Inspired by a tool used to soothe inflamed skin post-procedure, Nancy Donahue, a former cover model and triathlete, together with a band of MIT and Harvard engineers, set about adapting the therapy for home use. Together, this anti-dimple dream team developed a gadget that looks awfully similar to an orbital car buffer and is said to ease achy muscles while diminishing skin’s orange peel appearance. Just buff problems areas for five minutes twice daily. There's even a babyBelle travel version that can easily be toted to the gym or on your travels.

Firming Factor: “This is similar to those popular endermologie treatments,” says Schultz. “You’d need constant maintenance, but if you massage cellulite enough there’s reason to believe you’ll break up some septae and rearrange fat cells.”

HoneyBelle Body Buffer, $395, available at Bloomingdale's.

Photo: Courtesy of HoneyBelle
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Cellulite Creams

The Spiel: There’s no dearth of thigh-toning creams on the market with ingredients that promise all sorts of miracles in a simple rub down. Ren Body Contouring Anti-Cellulite Gel contains extracts of caffeine to tighten and horse chestnut and pink pepper seed to encourage fat break down. Vichy CelluDestock Intensive Treatment For the Appearance of Cellulite employs a 5% caffeine solution said to stimulate micro-circulation and boasts the loss of one cellulite grade in four weeks.

Firming Factor: “The one thing all cellulite creams have in common is their promise to improve the appearance of cellulite—but not actually get rid of it,” says Schultz, who admits such topical treatments are low on his list of recommended cellulite cures. However, for a few bucks they aren’t doing any harm. A better investment may be a tube of self tanner to give the illusion of taut, tanned gams.

Ren Body Contouring Anti-Cellulite Gel, $48, available in July at Ren; Vichy CelluDestock Intensive Treatment for the Appearance of Cellulite, $40, available at Vichy.

Photos: Courtesy of Vichy, Ren
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The Spiel: This anti-cellulite treatment, which just received FDA approval, uses a small laser fiber about the size of the tip of a pen, inserted under the skin to break up connective tissue and melt fat in one treatment. The procedure takes an hour and patients are back on their feet the next day, aided by a compression garment (read: Spanx) for several weeks thereafter.

Although not a permanent fix, many patients still see the results up to two-years post-procedure. “We’re seeing longer-lasting, more dramatic results after just one Cellulaze treatment than we do after multiple radio frequency-type treatments,” says New Jersey plastic surgeon Barry DiBernardo.

Firming Factor: “A souped-up form of lipo,” says Schultz, who believes this procedure likely causes some improvement, though not a profound difference. He also cautions that patients must undergo local anesthesia for what amounts to short-term results.

Cellulaze, $3,000-$8,000, available at your dermatologist's office.

Photo: Via Cellulaze
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Dry Brushing

The Spiel: This sounds just like what it is: rubbing the skin with a natural bristle brush to slough off dead skin cells and (reportedly) help the body flush away cellulite and toxins.

Firming Factor: Fictitious and far-fetched. Any improvement in the appearance of cellulite is truly only in the eye of the beholder and likely the result of temporary tissue swelling from the brushing. “This is yet another form of massage and not one that’s nearly effective enough to work through the connective tissue,” says Schultz. “To apply the amount of pressure required to effect real change to cellulite would be disastrous — not to mention irritating, abrasive, and painful — to skin.”

Elemis Body Detox Skin Brush, $35, at Bliss.

Image: Via Bliss
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The Spiel: When all else fails there’s still lipo, right? Oh, if only that were true. Liposuction, which removes excess fat deposits, would seem be the solution, but cellulite itself isn’t caused by too much fat — it's caused by the puckering of the fibrous septae that anchors the skin to the underlying fascia.

Firming Factor: The American’ Academy of Dermatology cautions against relying on liposuction to remove cellulite, for while it removes bulk, it can also create additional depressions in skin. “Using liposuction to melt away cellulite is possible if the physician used a small enough liposuction canula,” says Schultz. “It all comes down to the competence of the doctor. But liposuction still won’t break up the septae — it just relieves the fat.”

Photo: iStockPhoto

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