We get to grips with the bane that is cellulite, once and for all.
I’ve always had a rough relationship with my thighs. It’s not just the size and shape of them that sometimes upsets me, but the appearance of cellulite. What I wouldn’t do for a pair of svelte toned pins that didn’t look all dimpled and lumpy.
Yet, like some 85% of women, cellulite on my thighs and bum is just something I’ve had to live with, and its appearance has often been the deciding factor when it comes to choosing between bare legs or tights… and let’s not even get started on bikinis.
I’m all for loving the body you have, but when cellulite can prove to be such a massive knock to your confidence, and it’s possible to get rid of it, why wouldn’t you? The problem, of course, is figuring out how to do that. Type the words ‘how to get rid of cellulite’ into Google and you’re met with more than eight million results, and separating the fact from the fiction is tricky. Does dry brushing really work? (If I’m going to spend 10 long minutes in the bathroom every morning going at my thighs with gusto, I want it to be worth the effort.) Are cellulite-reducing lotions and potions a load of nonsense? Does working out and eating right really banish the bumps for good?
To get right to the root of issue, I first ask Jeanette Dunne, aesthetic nurse specialist at Renew Clinic why we get cellulite in the first place. “Subcutaneous fat causes dimpling of the skin especially on women’s hips, thighs and buttocks,” she explains. “The puckering of the skin happens when the layer of fat underneath pushes against the connective tissue and bulges causing the orange-peel look to the skin.” It doesn’t matter what dress size you are either, Jeanette confirms. “When it comes to cellulite there’s no discrimination, it can affect a smaller lady as well as a larger lady.”
I wonder why guys don’t seem to get it. “Men don’t suffer from cellulite as it’s connected to hormones, most commonly the female hormone oestrogen and they have a thinner layer of fat too,” Jeanette tells me. Not fair.
I ask Jeanette if diet and exercise are really the only way to go. “Diet will play a part in the severity of your cellulite,” she confirms.
The more fat cells on your body, the more visible your cellulite will be. Drinking too much caffeine and not getting in your eight glasses of water every day will slow down lymphatic drainage and cause the body to dehydrate making cellulite appear more obvious. Sugar and salt are friends of cellulite so avoid these too.
Jeanette also recommends dry brushing. “It’s the most effective home treatment above creams and exercise,” she explains. “But you must do it every day and be consistent.” It works by stimulating lymphatic drainage and increasing blood circulation. Start from the ankles and work your way up in circular motions. A few minutes before your shower in the morning ought to do it.
The jury’s out on body firming lotions. Some experts swear blind that ingredients like caffeine (said to help metabolise fat and reduce water retention) will aid fat loss, others complain they are a complete waste of money and offer nothing more than a mild improvement in the superficial texture of the skin. Still, the beauty industry makes some grand claims about the effects of these creams, with some suggesting that customers can see an up to 2cm measurement reduction after just four weeks of using their products.
Sadly, it seems the majority of researchers don’t agree. The first ever evidence review of cellulite
treatments was published in the American Journal Of Clinical Dermatology in 2016. Looking at a total of 18 studies of cellulite creams, the researchers found that of the four studies that tested with a single active ingredient (such as caffeine or Vitamin A for example) only one treatment proved more effective at reducing cellulite than a treatment with a placebo dummy cream. Plus, in the 14 studies that tested products with more complex product mixtures, only five were shown to be effective.
But of course, that doesn’t mean you should write off cellulite creams completely. The trick is to monitor your expectations and know you might just be paying for a tightening effect, not an actual reduction in cellulite.
Being too lazy to attempt dry brushing and too impatient to wait for results from the gym, I decided to go down the treatment route. Currently there are a lot of options on the market. You can even buy tights that claim to break down fatty tissue. After a little research, I opted for VelaShape II at Therapie Clinic, a treatment that both Kim and Khloe Kardashian say they’ve used to combat cellulite in the past.
The treatment uses a kind of suctioning device that also applies heat to help soften the cellulite before breaking it down. I was surprised to actually feel this working. The device pummels the skin, and after a little time it seems to glide over the skin more smoothly, having loosened the pockets of fat sitting below the surface. It’s mildly painful to begin with, but certainly not unbearable, and gradually, as the cellulite starts shifting, it becomes more comfortable.
I was also surprised to really notice a significant difference in my thighs a few days after one session out of a recommended four. Looking in the mirror, they certainly looked less lumpy and I was convinced they’d gotten a little smaller too. For the first time in ages, I wore out a short-short playsuit that weekend, and actually felt confident in it. A few days later, when the results should be at their peak thanks to lymphatic drainage post-treatment, I caught myself in a mirror at the gym that usually shows up all my flaws and noticed that my skin was looking a whole lot firmer.
The treatment is by no means cheap, starting at €495, and it’s important to remember that the results won’t last forever unless you’re prepared to put in the upkeep, that’s why in my opinion, the best approach to cellulite is a triple whammy.
If you’ve got some spare dollar, kick start the cellulite-busting process with a treatment that’ll get rid of the worst of it, then keep it at bay with a good diet and plenty of exercise and finally care for it at home with regular dry brushing and a good firming lotion. When you’re taking a three-tiered approach, you surely can’t go wrong.
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