The market for cellulite treatments is huge. Over time, 9 out of 10 women will develop cellulite on their buttocks, legs, or thighs. In the US alone there is roughly 132 million women over the age of 15, most of them genetically predisposed to developing the orange peel look. That means that about 120 million women will get the dimply, unattractive condition. At some point of her life almost every woman will seek a cellulite treatment to make “problem” disappear.
Through the years cellulite treatments came and went. Until recently none of the treatments were able to get rid of cellulite permanently.
The exciting news is that since 2012 three treatments surfaced and they all show promise of a long term removal or reduction of cellulite.
The reason why most of the treatments prior to 2012 were not effective is because they only treated (or attempted to) the bumpy dimply surface of the skin. But the dimply appearance is not a skin surface issue. The cellulite problem is a structural one and it lies beneath the surface. Unless the structural issues were addressed no cellulite treatment had a chance of working effectively long term.
Cellulite treatments come in two forms:
Effective But Invasive Cellulite Treatments
Invasive treatments entail some sort of an invasive procedure. The treatments can be surgical methods. Or, they can be less invasive treatments but ones which still require a penetration of the skin with some kind of an instrument or a tool.
In order to effectively manipulate the structure underneath the skin, the method of choice must be invasive. At the present time there is no other way about it.
Currently there are only three such methods. All three are considered effective and a long term “cure”. All three treat the problem from beneath the surface of the epidermis.
In principle, all three methods address the same issue, namely the fibrous septae or connective fibers under the epidermis.
Image 1. Comparison Of Normal And Cellulite Skin
Notice that the fibrous septae form very organized and parallel chambers in which the fat is stored (the yellow fuzzy globules). The parallel fibers appear to be static. There does not seem to be any stretch to them.
When the fat cells enlarge, they have no other way to go but up. They push the skin out to form the visible bumps, so typical of cellulite. The fibers remain steady and immobile and they keep the skin in its original place, which is lower than the fat bump. This is why the affected surface looks so dimply and bumpy at the same time.
The three effective cellulite treatments mainly consider the fibers as the primary cause of the cottage cheese appearance. All three treatments manipulate the fibers in some fashion for long term results.
- Cellfina Cellulite Treatment (CCT) – thus far, Cellfina procedure holds most promise to treat and even cure cellulite, in the areas where the treatment is applied. The minimally invasive procedure involves cutting off fibrous septae, the fibers that structure or control fat distribution under the epidermis. By cutting the fibers, the fat distribution becomes unrestricted and the bumps on the skin disappear. To get more details on this procedure read this article.
- Brazilian Cellulite Treatment (BCT) – this procedure is very similar to the Cellfina procedure. Here, the minimally invasive procedure, instead of a lance, uses a needle is to cut the fibrous septae and release the pull of the fibers on the epidermis. (The pull of the fibers on epidermis causes the indentation or the dimple on the surface of the skin). The major difference between the Cellfina and Brazilian treatments is the Cellfina loop that pulls the affected skin up for and easier and a more precise access. Access more details about this process here.
- Cellulaze Cellulite Treatment – although the principle of this procedure is similar to the BCT and CCT in that a laser cuts the fibrous septae, there are two additional steps that take place. First is the melting of the fat under the epidermis. The second is the stimulation of collagen production (according to Cynosure, the company which developed the procedure) by heating the layer under the epidermis.
Cellulaze is the most invasive of these three cellulite treatments. It takes the longest to recover from. As well, the full results of the treatment may not become apparent for a few months. For more details click the link here.
These treatments are not cheap. They start at about $3000 per area. But they are a one time deal. Once the area is “fixed”, no repeats are necessary.
Non-Invasive Commercial Cellulite Treatments
Non-invasive treatments do not penetrate the skin. The “cure” is applied externally, directly to the surface of the affected area. It may also be applied internally as is the case of supplements and detoxing agents a woman may ingest.
Because these treatments do not directly treat the structural issues under the epidermis they are not effective in getting rid of cellulite long term. But most of them at least offer a temporary relief in a way the dimples and bumps appear on the surface.
- Anti Cellulite Creams – there is quite a variety of anti cellulite creams available. They are all applied externally by massaging the cream into the affected area. The effectiveness of creams vary, depending on the ingredients which are used. The cost of the creams also varies. The price ranges from a few dollars to several hundreds of dollars per container. At most, they are only effective in temporarily reducing the appearance of this pesky condition. For a detailed overview of the top anti cellulite creams read here.
- Endermologie – is a type of deep tissue massage. Endermologie supposedly improves circulation, loosens connective tissue and improves lymphatic drainage. Lymphatic drainage gets rid of excess fluid and waste in the treated area. The changes that take place in the treated area result in a short lived reduction of cellulite appearance. The treatment is short, about 30 minutes. Multiple sessions are recommended. The cost is $100 and up per session.
- Radiofrequency Therapies – there are a number companies that offer this or a very similar treatment, under different names. Radiotherapy is basically an application of heat to the surface of affected area (sometimes followed by an aggressive massage). The process causes temporary swelling as well as temporary thickening of the treated area. This results in smoothing of the skin and minimizing the appearance of bumps and dimples. The treatment only works well for patients with mild cases of cellulite. For best results, one or two sessions per week for a month or longer are recommended. This would be a whopping investment since the cost of one session is about $400.
- Ultrasound – uses high-intensity, focused ultrasound energy to destroy or melt targeted fat without harming surrounding skin. Results are not immediate, requiring two to three months following the procedure to see a noticeable improvement in the appearance of cellulite. (Source)
In summary, my verdict for the commercially available cellulite treatments is as follows.
- If you don’t mind a minimally invasive procedure and you have the budget for it, opt for the Cellfina system. It seems the best. It is the newest and most perfected treatment. It is long lasting.
- If you want to opt for an non-invasive temporary treatment, don’t waste your money on heat, deep massage, ultrasound and radiofrequency treatment. If you do, you’ll have to keep paying. Save your money and shop around for an anti-cellulite cream. Daily use will continuously make the dimply look less apparent.