Unsightly Cellulite: What Is It and What Can Be Done?

Leading Dermatologists Drs. Joshua Fox and Aza Lefkowitz Provide Tips for Patients

Cellulite is not harmful. The dimpled, puckered skin that characterizes cellulite is a normal variant in the way fat beneath the skin is distributed. But the appearance of cellulite, which is most often found on the thighs and buttocks of as many as 8 out of 10 women, is distressing for many. “While there is as yet no single solution that can permanently eliminate cellulite,” says Dr. Joshua Fox of Advanced Dermatology, P.C., there are steps a woman can take and there are effective treatments that can reduce cellulite and improve the appearance of the skin.”
Slim woman body on white background

What causes cellulite?

Cellulite is most common on those parts of the body that have fat deposits under the skin. When the fat pushes against connective tissue, the skin above it puckers, causing the distinctive bumpy look of cellulite. It is more common in women than in men because fat and connective tissue are distributed differently in the skin of women and men. Cellulite also becomes more common as skin loses elasticity with age. “Cellulite may become more noticeable with weight gain,” says Dr. Aza Lefkowitz, Associate Director of the Smart Lipo Unit at Advanced Dermatology PC, “but lean people have cellulite as well. Genetics are thought to play a role in determining who will develop cellulite. Other factors that may affect its development or visibility are diet, exercise and metabolism – how the body burns energy.”

Dr. Fox offers several suggestions on how can cellulite be reduced

  • Weight loss and exercise won’t eliminate cellulite but losing pounds through a healthy diet and strengthening the muscles of the legs, thighs and buttocks will improve appearance by helping keep the body taut and smooth and improving skin tone and texture.
  • Massage therapies have been developed that utilize a hand-held, electrically powered device that kneads the skin between rollers to smooth its texture. Endermologie® from LPG Systems, cleared by the FDA to be used for temporary reduction in the appearance of cellulite. Treatment typically constitutes six to eight 35-minute sessions. Bella Contour mixes massage with ultra sound technology with gentle electrical stimulation to achieve circumference reduction and appearance in cellulite.
  • Laser and light therapy are used with the goal of disrupting and shrinking fat tissue, sometimes in conjunction with massage to soften the connective tissue and reduce the dimpled appearance. Cold lasers like Zerona and others can damage fat cells painlessly and decrease cellulite.
  • Thermage CPT, Ultherapy, Thermi-RF and other devices. Talk with your dermatologist about all of these options to see which might be best for your situation.

“There are a wide variety of topical creams and other treatments that purport to reduce cellulite,” says Dr. Fox, “but there is little evidence that they are effective”. “The best advice we can give is to try to avoid the development of cellulite or to minimize its severity by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight (and avoiding yo-yo dieting), drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding smoking.” Dr. Lefkowitz states that in his opinion, the least invasive tightening methods include superficial Thermage CPT and ThermiRF with a heating device under the skin.

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