Cellulite is an extremely common and normal part of the body where fat underneath the skin creates the appearance of dimpling.
You can’t completely get rid of cellulite, but you can reduce its appearance by staying hydrated and exercising.
Some topical treatments and procedures on the market exist that claim to reduce the appearance of cellulite, but they tend to be expensive.
Cellulite is an extremely common, normal part of the body where subcutaneous fat, the kind of fat that lies just under the skin, appears to be rippled, puckered, or dimpled.
As fat pushes upward through the fibrous bands that connect the skin to the muscles, the fibrous tissue pulls the skin in, causing a lumpy appearance. You don’t have to be overweight to have cellulite, though this is a common misconception.
“Cellulite most commonly appears on the thighs, buttocks, and sometimes abdomen, and it is more common in women than men. Studies suggest that cellulite is found in 80-90% of women who have gone through puberty, so by that measure, it is a normal part of the body,” says Alicia Little, MD, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine.
Having cellulite isn’t dangerous, so unless it’s a major cosmetic concern, you don’t have to get rid of it. Misinformation surrounds cellulite, and a 2020 survey shows that a lot of physicians want people to know that having cellulite is not their fault.
That said, if you’re looking to reduce the appearance of cellulite, here’s what you need to know.
Can you actually get rid of cellulite?
There’s no way to completely get rid of cellulite, and treatments only reduce its appearance temporarily. “The goal of those treatments is to improve the appearance of the cellulite, but they do not completely eliminate it,” says Little.
Genes, along with other factors, can determine the likelihood of cellulite. “Genetics definitely play a role in determining who will develop cellulite. We often see that cellulite runs in families,” says Anne Chapas, MD, founder and medical director of Union Square Laser Dermatology.
Weight and muscle tone may also play a role in cellulite development. “Extra weight can make cellulite more noticeable, so getting to a healthy weight may reduce the amount of cellulite you can see,” says Little. However, in some cases, loose skin develops during weight loss and cellulite can become more visible, she says.
What exercises get rid of cellulite?
Lack of physical activity can increase the appearance of cellulite. “Skin looks smoother and firmer over muscle rather than fat, so exercises that help replace fat with muscle can make cellulite less noticeable,” says Little.
Cellulite usually forms around the hips, thighs, and buttocks because people tend to have more fatty deposits in those areas, says Chapas. Here are some exercises that target those muscles:
Cardio alone cannot minimize the appearance of cellulite, so strength training and having a healthy diet are equally important.
Which foods cause cellulite?
Though there isn’t sufficient data that any diet prevents or treats cellulite, it appears to be more common among individuals with a diet that is low in fiber and high in refined carbohydrates and added sugars, says Debra L. Clancy RD, CD, a clinical dietitian at the Center for Weight Loss and Metabolic Surgery, UW Medicine.
The severity of cellulite is linked to being overweight, so maintaining a healthy weight by having a balanced diet may help you avoid cellulite. Refrain from yo-yo dieting, or rapid weight loss fluctuation, and moderately consume sugar-sweetened beverages, baked goods, and processed meats.
Dehydration also affects the appearance of cellulite, so drink enough water every day to maintain good health, manage body weight, and hydrate the skin.
What practices are linked with reducing cellulite?
Though cellulite is harmless, there are some options for individuals who want to reduce its appearance for cosmetic concerns, which include:
Topical agents: Some creams and lotions with 0.3% retinol can make cellulite less obvious because it helps thicken the skin, but test them on a small area beforehand to ensure that you aren’t allergic to it. Cellulite creams generally cost below $100.
Injectable treatments: The injection of dermal fillers and collagenase enzymes may smoothen skin irregularities due to cellulite. Dermal fillers like Radiesse cost about $900 and above, depending on the number of injections. Qwo, the first FDA-approved injectable treatment, will be widely available in 2021 and is expected to cost $2,000 to $5,000.
Energy-based procedures: Several sessions of radiofrequency, acoustic wave therapy, or laser treatments harness soundwaves or thermal and light energy to minimize the appearance of cellulite. Treatments like Velashape, Cellfina, and Cellulaze can range from $1,000 to $5,000.
Some trends say that certain home remedies or products can help reduce cellulite, however, there’s no evidence that this is true. There’s no scientific proof that coffee scrubs can reduce cellulite. Dry brushing, another popular tip, isn’t effective and isn’t supported by science either.
“None of these options will permanently get rid of cellulite because they do not address the root cause of it, which are the fibrous bands under the surface of the skin,” says Chapas.
Cellulite is a normal and common skin condition that causes a dimpled or rippled appearance on the skin. It’s unnecessary to get rid of cellulite unless you consider it a cosmetic concern.
Exercising and having a healthy diet can improve the appearance of cellulite, as well as topical agents, injectable treatments, and energy-based procedures. However, they are only short-term solutions that cannot completely eliminate cellulite.
According to Little, it’s not necessary to reduce cellulite for your health. “Cellulite is common and harmless, and it can occur in people who do not need to lose any weight,” she says.