There’s good news and bad news about cellulite. We’ll tell you the bad news first: No matter how much a product or treatment promises that it can rid your body of those stubborn dimples, there just isn’t much that can be done. “The appearance of cellulite is nearly impossible to eliminate completely,” Mark Peters, a board-certified plastic surgeon at NuBody Concepts, says. “Since cellulite is caused by multiple physiologic and anatomic factors, a wide variety of treatments are used, but most fail to address the root cause of cellulite.”
So what’s the good news? “It is important to remember that cellulite is a normal finding in the skin and does not require treatment,” Dustin Portela, a board-certified dermatologist and TikTok sensation practicing in Idaho, says. So, while you may not be able to totally eliminate cellulite, there are options for helping to soften the appearance of it, if that’s what you’re after. First, let’s get into the basics.
What Causes Cellulite?
Women of all shapes and sizes have cellulite—again, it’s both normal and common, and doesn’t need to be treated. “Cellulite is less a defect of fat cells; it’s more structural or vascular between the skin’s fat and underlying fiber septae. These fibers pull down the skin, creating divots and uneven surfaces or dimples,” Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, says. “There are many factors that contribute to visible cellulite. Thinning of the skin can make cellulite look worse, as well as other abnormalities—that’s why we see cellulite in women of all sizes. We see cellulite in 90 percent of women because of the structural component of the skin.”
It’s also more commonly seen in white women. “The reasons for this are not fully understood,” Portela adds, “and although the mechanism is not fully clear, there is reason to believe that estrogen may play a role in the way that cellulite develops.” It can get more apparent with age too. “The visibility of cellulite depends on the quality of your skin; thinner, saggier skin will show cellulite more than thicker skin,” Jessie Cheung, a board-certified dermatologist in Chicago and New York City, says.
Can Any Treatments or Procedures Help with Cellulite?
We’re going to say this one more time: Cellulite is normal and does not need to be treated. But if you’re bothered at all by the appearance, there are some cutting-edge treatments available at dermatologists’ and plastic surgeons’ offices that can help minimize the dimples. “The cellulite-specific treatments are Qwo, Avéli, Emtone, Resonic, Cellulaze, and Cellfina, but any treatment that breaks up the collagen bundles and strengthens the skin will help to treat cellulite,” Cheung says.
Qwo is the newest, coolest kid on the block in terms of cellulite treatments. “This is an injectable treatment placed around the tethering bands of cellulite that can dissolve collagen. This is essentially what we call a collagenase or an enzyme that degrades collagen when placed carefully under the skin,” Portela says. “This procedure must be properly placed and performed by well-trained individuals, and my recommendation is with a board-certified dermatologist.” The injection dissolves the aforementioned bands so the cellulite is no longer as visible. “A series of three treatments is typically recommended, and there may be some bruising and swelling after the injections,” Cheung says.
Avéli is another commonly recommended option that works through subcision, a.k.a. releasing fibers underneath the skin. “It’s a minimally invasive procedure that allows you to go under the skin that cuts and tears fiber septae so it no longer causes that pin cushioning,” Henry says. Cellfina, another subcision treatment, has been out a few years longer and delivers similar results. But remember: Nonsurgical doesn’t mean it’s not still a procedure, though the results are impressive. “Avéli and Cellfina require the injection of numbing medicine and the insertion under the skin of either a cutting tool with Avéli, or laser fiber with Cellfina, and a single treatment may successfully address the cellulite.”
If you’re looking for the most minimally invasive options that tighten skin, you’ll want to talk to your doctor about Resonic, Emtone, BodyTite, or InMode Morpheus8. “Resonic and Emtone use acoustic shockwave therapy to break up the fibers, and Emtone adds radio frequency for additional skin tightening, and a series of treatments is required,” Cheung says. BodyTite is a single radio frequency treatment that “targets the laxity of the tissues causing the cellulite,” Peters says. Both Henry and Peters also recommend InMode Morpheus8, which could require three treatments. “It’s radio frequency microneedling, which doesn’t affect the fiber septae, but instead works to stimulate collagen in the skin to thicken the superficial and dermis layer so that cellulite may become less visible,” Henry says. Peters, however, offers a note of caution: “It is also important that patients understand that none of these treatments produce permanent results.”
Can Any Products Help with Cellulite?
We’re not telling you to stop using coffee scrubs and body brushes (we love them, too), but just know that they’re not going to dramatically change your cellulite. “There is no topical product or home remedy that has demonstrated in scientific studies to improve the appearance of cellulite for any extended period of time,” Peters says. Results from at-home products are temporary. “Topical application of things like caffeine may temporarily cause some skin tightening, or depuffing, but this will not truly resolve any cellulite, other than perhaps a momentary improvement in appearance,” Portela says. Products with peptides help boost collagen production in your skin, Henry adds, which could help reduce the appearance of cellulite.
From Harper’s Bazaar US