Last year, one of the most coveted actresses who hit the spotlight for her ‘size zero’ was caught on camera sporting a cottage cheese thigh or what we call cellulite – the age-old enemy of women world over. The abnormal accumulation of fat occurs in lumps mostly in the lower body in the pelvic area, abdomen and lower limbs.
The picture that went viral shattered an age-old myth about cellulite – it doesn’t affect just fat or obese people.
How it all starts
Oestrogen or rather the lack of it plays a large part in the formation of cellulite. Lesser the oestrogen, lower the circulation to the skin, lower the nourishment, lesser is the formation of collagen. For the uninitiated, good collagen is what makes the skin taut and supple. Coupled with this, if the fat cells also start growing larger, they push through the collagen and become the bumpy fat that you know as cellulite. The oestrogen theory explains the fact that cellulite is at its worst in women above the age of 35 (that is when the oestrogen levels start falling).
The gender divide
Nature hasn’t been very kind to women when it comes to the structure of their skin. Women are predisposed to cellulite because of the way their collagen is structured (looks like a picket fence in women). In males, it is more of cross-linked picket fence. The cross-linking doesn’t easily let the fat protrude through.
Add a bad diet and lifestyle to the above and you’re sure to be grappling with the big cellulite problem for sure.
So, should you just blame nature and accept your less-than-dear unsightly dimples or get up and do something about it? We bring you a few things you could try and reduce the damage:
1. Make some lifestyle changes
Your diet and habits can have a considerable impact on this condition. Quit smoking, cut back on alcohol and eat healthy – they are universal rules for healthy living but can help reduce cellulite too.
“Alcohol directly translates into calories and if you aren’t burning as much as consuming, your body is bound to create fat. So it’s not necessary that all those who drink are fat. If they have an active lifestyle, they may not have cellulite deposits,” explains Dr. Jayanthi Ravindran, a Board Certified plastic surgeon based out of Chennai.
“Smoking doesn’t directly affect cellulite production but it has many other side effects. For instance, we can’t treat smokers immediately. They are advised to quit smoking at least 2-3 weeks before they come for treatment,” she adds.
Get fit; gaining weight only aggravates cellulite production.
2. Exercise those limbs
The best way to tone up is to exercise. Run, swim or walk. Although this won’t get rid of existing cellulite, it will help prevent it.
3. Wear well-fitting but not tight underwear
Tight underwear with elastics could cut off circulation and hence cause more cellulite. Avoid them. Using thongs if you are comfortable in them could be the best option.
4. Try these ‘cellulite-busters’ with caution:
These methods are your best bet to avoid cellulite production and help you reduce the existing cellulite on your body. However, practice caution while considering these following options that claim to help you get rid of cellulite entirely.
a. Anti-cellulite creams
A million creams claim to remove body cellulite entirely. Most anti-cellulite creams have caffeine, which dehydrates the skin, tightening the skin for a temporary improvement in appearance. Before you buy one, make sure you conduct a thorough research on its benefits.
b. ‘Miracle’ pills
Pills that contain herbs and non-herbal ingredients that promise to rid you of cottage cheese skin have stormed the markets time and again. Manufacturers claim they improve capillary circulation and inhibit collagen breakdown (which keeps the skin firm) but no medical study has proven so. In fact, some experts warn that the high content of iodine in some pills can lead to thyroid problems.
c. Compression garments
Some people try compression garments that try to compress the arteries and increases blood flow to reduce visual cellulite – a useless and completely temporary way of hiding cellulite.
d. Therapeutic methods and drug therapy
These include pneumatic massages, heat therapy, ultrasound, magnetic therapy and electrical stimulation. Another category of cellulite removal method uses drugs that break down fatty tissues. Pharmacological agents like methylxanthines, adrenaline, amino acids and Indian chestnut have also been tried. However, there’s no medical evidence of these methods being effective.
A way of temporary reduction of cellulite is endermologie, which redistributes fat under the connective tissues, leading to a smoother and balanced appearance.
e. Cosmetic surgery
Liposuction is probably the most radical way of reducing cellulite; it’s also expensive and may not always yield the desired result. In fact, liposuction is best suited for removing fat that is deep within the skin and not superficial.
“Liposuction works for those who have a few fat deposits under their skin. However, it doesn’t work for those with morbid obesity or are overweight – the best way out for the former is surgery and exercise for the latter,” suggests Dr. Ravindran.
Is there a foolproof way of getting ‘rid of it for good’?
The answer to the million dollar question, sadly, is no. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are your best options but they will never remove cellulite entirely. But it will tone your body to prevent further cellulite.
“The best way to get rid of cellulite is liposuction. There are other non-surgical methods being offered by others but they involve dispersion of fat cells and not removal. Besides, so many of them have not been medically proven,” says Dr. Jayanthi Ravindran, a cosmetic surgeon based out of Chennai.
But beware, for liposuction may also leave you with lumpiness or ‘dents’ in the skin. So make sure you choose among the most trusted doctors in your city.First Published: Apr 27, 2012 at 8:58 AM