Bikini season has arrived. Rather than hide under a cover-up all summer long, there are new and effective ways to help treat dimpled thighs and buttocks and have them looking smoother in just a few weeks – whether you choose procedures at the dermatologist’s office or over-the-counter products.
Anne Chapas, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City, estimates that cellulite affects 90 percent of women and is likely not just genetic. “Multiple factors contribute to the formation of cellulite including gender differences in how fat is stored, hormonal factors, vascular factors and the presence of inflammation,” says Chapas. Cellulite affects both skinny and overweight women, young and old, and is caused when engorged fat cells get trapped in bands of connective tissue in the skin.
“Cellulite is an architectural pattern that is sex determined,” says Lisa M. Donofrio, MD, dermatologist and Associate Clinical Professor at Yale University School of Medicine. Below the skin are fibrous tissues called septae. Men have septae that run parallel to the skin, which is why very few men are plagued with this disorder, while women have septae that run perpendicular in the skin. “When the perpendicular fibers “tether,” the skin dimples form,” says Donofrio.
Those with thinner skin will see more of a cottage cheese effect, and hormones, too, can play a role in the size of the fat cells. Diet and exercise may help, but if you have skin that is not as elastic this may not do much good in getting rid of the problem.
If you are looking for a more permanent solution in the fight on cellulite, in-office procedures may be the best option. These treatments can help with contouring of the stomach, buttocks and thighs. “Most of the devices that are FDA approved for cellulite work by a combination of tightening the skin, increasing collagen and either stretching or severing the septae,” says Donofrio.
The latest buzz to get rid of orange-peel skin is with a treatment called Cellulaze from Cynosure, which works by threading a laser fiber through a small tube or cannula, which is inserted under the skin to cut the septae bundles, melt fat and encourage elastin and collagen growth. The procedure takes about 1 to 1 ½ hours and costs from $2,500 up to $10,000. Mild bruising can occur and this is not a non-invasive treatment. You can start to see results in as little as two weeks and the effects may be long lasting or permanent, although you can’t know for sure.
Chapas likes Velashape 2 from Syneron-Candela for those who do not want to undergo an invasive treatment. This procedure works by using radiofrequency to temporarily shrink fat cells, infrared light to stimulate collagen and mechanical vacuum and massage rollers to improve circulation and smooth bumps. A Velashape 2 treatment typically takes one hour with patients having to undergo four to six treatments in order to see results. Prices can range from $150 to $300 per session.
However, before you book that appointment, Chapas explains that “these treatments only work on people with what is called Class I and Class II cellulite, meaning that their cellulite is only visible when standing, but not when lying down.”
At-Hope Topical Options
No over-the-counter product can diminish cellulite for good, but they can help temporarily smooth and tighten cottage cheese skin with ingredients such as caffeine, which shrinks fat cells, and retinol, which helps to thicken skin.
The following are products that offer short-term results and help reveal smoother, firmer, less dimpled skin.
Nivea Skin Firming Cellulite Serum with Q10 ($15.99) helps to smooth puckered skin in as little as 10 days with antioxidant Coenzyme Q10, lotus leaf extract and the amino acid L-Carnitine.
Apply REN Body Contouring Anti-Cellulite Gel ($48 available July 2012) morning and night to keep legs cool while reducing the appearance of cellulite with potent bio-extracts such as algae, horse chestnut, caffeine and pink pepper seed.
Dr. Hauschka Lemon Lemongrass Body Oil ($28.95) is rich in plant extracts and oils such as lemon peel, lemongrass, mistletoe and horsetail to help firm and hydrate problem areas.
Fitting Room Skin Prep Body Polish ($45) from mybody should be rubbed in circular motions on wet skin for three minutes a few times a week. This glycolic acid and exfoliating scrub preps the skin for creams and serums that help smooth dimpled skin.
Camouflage bumpy spots with Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad for Body with Active Vitamin D ($45 for 8 applications). This towelette not only exfoliates skin with AHAs and leaves a natural bronzed glow, but caffeine and antioxidants help make jiggly arms and legs appear more slim and toned.