Cellulite: What’s New?

It makes no sense, right? Ninety to 95% of women have cellulite, yet both men and women alike describe it as an “imperfection.” Most women use harsher terms to describe it. It is a normal phenomenon caused when body fat beneath the skin is pushed against the mesh-like net of fibrous tissue that surrounds it. The fat then bulges through in areas where the net is weaker, creating a textured look. Gaining weight makes cellulite more prominent, but fit individuals often complain about dimpling as well. There is a genetic component to it, and from a medical standpoint, cellulite is considered completely normal. Despite reassurance that this condition is not actually a “condition,” many seek to improve the appearance of cellulite. The good news is there are options that can help and a new injectable named Qwo™ that just may be the answer.

Diet: Since we know that weight gain intensifies the appearance of cellulite, following a healthy, balanced diet is advisable. Specifically, high-water content foods are helpful in improving the appearance of dimples. Watermelon, radishes, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, oranges, berries, and green, leafy vegetables are some examples. Juicing may be a great option in order to get all of these in one place.

Hormones: Hormonal changes can intensify the appearance of cellulite. Estrogen specifically supports collagen formation in the dermis (hide) of the skin. When estrogen levels and, thus, collagen production decline, fatty deposits or bulges are not camouflaged as well by thinner skin. Although many young women complain of cellulite, it is a condition associated with aging because it becomes more prominent over time. Hormone replacement is a consideration in this case, as long as it is appropriate for you as prescribed by a trusted physician.

Exercise: Increased blood flow to the tissues helps support healthy skin and collagen. Regular exercise and toning with weights or yoga are helpful. The EmSculpt™ device, which employs high-intensity, focused electromagnetic muscle stimulation, can help to accelerate this toning process. Compression leggings may improve the appearance of cellulite while being worn, but they are reported to decrease blood flow to the skin therefore making things worse in the long run. Smoking is also known to decrease blood flow, reduce collagen production, thin the skin, and thus exacerbate the appearance of cellulite.

Wraps: Hi Def (high definition) or bioslimming wraps are very popular prior to events or warm-weather vacations. These involve deep tissue massage and application of topical creams or gels that contain caffeine, polyphenols, and sometimes diuretics. Saran Wrap or mylar wraps are then applied for 15 to 45 minutes. They are effective for creating a leaner look overall to allow for muscle definition to show. They do reduce the appearance of cellulite but only for a few days.

Fillers: In our office, we commonly use hyaluronic acid fillers to treat specific dimples. This off-label use of filler is very quick and effective with minimal to no downtime. Results can last nine months to two years depending on the type of filler that is used. It is a favored treatment for a few bothersome dimples but could be costly when treating 10 or more areas, for example.

Devices: Various devices use infrared light, radiofrequency energy, suction, or massage to achieve a smoother look in areas where there is cellulite. In our office, we have a device that provides all modalities at once—Velashape II. In three treatments, patients see a reduction in both circumference and cellulite. The device can be used on the abdomen, arms, love handles, buttocks, and thighs. The infrared light and bipolar radiofrequency heat the dermal collagen in order to firm up the net of fibers. The vacuum and massage rollers work well as a deep tissue treatment to increase blood flow to the surface. It definitely improves contour. A series of treatments followed by maintenance treatments are necessary.

Qwo™: Great news! There is a new non-surgical treatment that can permanently reduce dimples associated with cellulite. It is the first and only FDA-approved injectable proven to treat cellulite in women’s buttocks. Our office, Bella Skin Institute in Calabasas, is one of the first to offer this treatment series. Three treatments, one month apart, will address these indentations.

Cellulite is 100% normal. And there is nothing wrong with keeping it or wanting to get rid of it. This is your body! For
those who wish to reduce cellulite, Qwo is good news. Some people are not bothered by this benign condition, but for those who are, this can be a great confidence-booster. Cellulite can impact how women perceive their bodies, and a Harris Poll online survey from 2006 showed that 50% or more were bothered a great deal by their cellulite. Until now, we have only been able to offer temporary non-surgical solutions. We are always excited to offer the latest in injectables to our patients. Summer, here we come!

The statements in this article are for general informational purposes only and do not substitute for individual medical advice.

By Anna D. Guanche, MD, FAAD
Board-Certified Dermatologist
Bella Skin Institute, Calabasas