Cellulite: An ongoing battle
Rosmy Barrios R-Blažič, MD
Aesthetic and Anti-aging medical specialist
One of the most common worries regarding corporal beauty, worldwide, is the infamous cellulite. Cellulite affects 85-98% of post-pubertal women of all races regardless of weight, skin type or age. It is safe to say that all women know how cellulite looks like. Cellulite is most commonly found in the area of hips, buttocks, thighs and abdomen.
Aside from being aesthetically unattractive, cellulite also has a psychological effect, especially on self-esteem. Although having cellulite is not life threatening, a person affected might find its lifestyle in many ways dictated by this condition. Numerous diets, gym routines, creams, scrubs, machines, and other products are all ways of fighting cellulite but they can be very time and money consuming and often with unsatisfying results.
What if there is an easier way?
As always in life, to solve a problem it is necessary to understand what the problem actually is. So, what are those little depressions that appear in the skin that we refer to as cellulite? Why all the treatments that you have tried haven’t been successful? Do you need to learn to live with cellulite? The answers to these questions are complex but let’s try to make them as simple as we can.
As common and as important that it might seem cellulite has not been a subject of too much scientific investigation with the purpose of understanding it better. Therefore there is no definitive explanation about the reasons for the appearance of cellulite and that’s what makes, treating it effectively, so difficult. The truth is there are no treatments that can “cure” cellulite (Harsh isn’t it?), but don’t be too disappointed, as there are ways to improve the general condition and appearance of the affected area.
Latest studies have shown that cellulite has multiple causes and different predisposing factors:
– Sexually dimorphic skin architecture: It sounds terrible but it is simply the existence of differences in the structures that form our skin relating to our gender. Being a female is a very important predisposing factor for having cellulite.
– Altered connective tissue septae: The quality of some tissues in our skin makes us likely to have more or less cellulite.
– Vascular changes related with some alterations in the circulatory system can also be a factor in cellulite appearance.
– Inflammatory factors are highly related with the vascular changes and certain conditions that we could have in our legs.
The ‘orange peel’ or “lumpy-bumpy” and dimpled skin surface aspect of the cellulite appears due to the presence of enlarged fibrotic strands that divide the deeper layer of our skin (hypodermis) and serve as a physiological barrier limiting the maneuver space for the fat deposited in the skin.
We have heard of, saw and even tried few of the several aesthetical therapies that have been designed and marketed to improve cellulite condition, including topical therapy, injectables, lymphatic or vacuum-assisted massage, acoustic wave therapy, light therapy, external noninvasive lasers, and radiofrequency (RF) devices. Lamentably, all of them have shown unpredictable efficiency despite numerous treatment sessions, which has contributed to their limited popularity.
Taking into account all that was said, we come to the conclusion that the ideal treatment would be the one that removes those “fibrotic strands”. Nowadays we can find different types of treatments that can do just that. Treatments like manual subcision, laser subcision, mechanic subcision, with a downtime of 2 to 5 months and long lasting results are the best but can cost quite a bit. If you are truly dedicated to getting rid of cellulite and you have the money to spend combining these treatments with regular care routines such are mesotherapy and radiofrequency would probably be the best decision.
You have probably encountered promotional ads, in magazines and on social networks, advertising caffeine scrubs. It is known that caffeine helps to prevent excessive accumulation of fat in cells, has potent antioxidant properties and helps to protect cells from UV radiation which slows down the process of photo aging of the skin. Moreover, caffeine contained in cosmetic products increases the microcirculation of blood in the skin.
Caffeine, has one more important property, it can penetrate the skin barrier to reach the dermis where fat protrusion occurs. On the other hand, caffeine does not dissolve in water easily which makes the preparations of creams difficult. Therefore, higher-concentration formulas require large amounts of alcohol or another irritative substances, which can cause skin irritation. Commercially available slimming cream usually contains 3% caffeine, while the desirable dose of caffeine is 10%. When using caffeine to fight cellulite, the best results can be achieved by injecting caffeine directly into the affected tissue. This way of administrating caffeine in cellulite treatment is by far more effective than any other way of application (firming creams, scrubs, massages, etc.)
As we previously learned, many of the scrubs and creams that we use are not efficient because they do not provide caffeine in required quantity to treat cellulite. If we use caffeine in addition to other substances known as a “lipolytics” (substances with the property of destroying fat cells) and we add some other “moisturizers” with collagen inducted substances we can get some results faster but not with drastic improvement. This mix of substances, and their application through injection, is commonly known as “mesotherapy”.
Slimming creams are economical, very popular and some can give amazing results due to the combination of ingredients (lipolytics, enzymes that reduce the formation of fat while increasing local temperature, microcirculation and collagen synthesis) which vary depending of the manufacturer as well as their price, but it is important to establish a daily routine and be persistent with the treatment. This way it is possible to achieve a significant improvement in the treated area of the skin.
As cellulite is a condition which is caused by multiple factors, to treat it properly we need to search for a solution from multiple sources. Possibly one of the best way to fight cellulite would be:
– Active lifestyle: by combining regular exercise with proper diet it is possible to significantly reduce total amount of fat tissue in the body which will inevitably lead to reduction of cellulite.
– Healthy eating habits: adequate hydration, increase of protein intake, concentrating on useful fatty acids, avoiding excessive carbohydrates as they are mostly to blame for fat depositing in the body.
– Subcision treatment.
– Regular mesotherapy treatments.
– Daily use of slimming creams.
With so many products and treatments available it is important to keep yourself informed. To understand the technology and people (e.g.: scientist, pharmaceuticals, board advisers) behind the products and the way treatments work. It is always best to consult a professional and keep in mind that we are all different and that effectiveness of treatments may vary depending of symptoms severity and personal expectations.