#AskCharlotte: What Are The Best Treatments For Cellulite?

Charlotte’s Book is a trusted place to find and share information on the best in skincare, anti-aging, aesthetics, and wellness. Ask Charlotte your beauty or wellness question, and we’ll call upon one of the experts in The Book to provide you with the most up-to-date information.

Bathing suit season is here and it’s no wonder cellulite is on the minds of many. One reader reached out asking how to deal with the dimply issue: 

“I’ve tried all sorts of anti-cellulite creams and massages, but nothing has really worked yet. I think I want to try a procedure. What are the best treatments for cellulite?”

Cellulite, women’s ultimate foe because it doesn’t discriminate against age or weight, is a common issue that has been notoriously difficult to treat. It’s well known that anti-cellulite creams will do as much to smooth out dimples as an anti-aging moisturizer can to provide a full face-lift. While they can be a great part of a healthy skincare routine, to truly see less dimples, you need to bring out the big guns. So what, if any, treatments do work? Happily, there are some.

First, it’s important to understand how the lumps and bumps of cellulite develop. Underneath the surface of your skin are bands of fibrous connective tissue, called septae. They are like the pillars beneath your skin holding everything up and in place. These septae can harden and contract, which pulls down skin and causes a dimple. In addition, fat can weasle its way between septae, creating larger bulges of fat and that dimpled, hilly appearance. Also, thin skin, as in older skin, reveals the uneven adipose tissue beneath the surface even more, acerbating the appearance of cellulite. However, weight and aging are not the only causes of cellulite, as girls in their teens can have it too, many developing it during puberty. In fact, 85% of all women have some form of cellulite. Men experience cellulite less often because their skin is thicker and they have more septae that are tightly arranged, holding skin down more smoothly. Annoying, right?

Let’s not get depressed though. Thankfully, we have modern science. There are some promising cosmetic treatments for cellulite that can help.

Cellfina is the newest option and the first minimally invasive procedure that has been cleared by the FDA to improve the appearance of cellulite for at least a year. It works by targeting and snipping the contracted septae that cause dimpling. There have been similar procedures that try to do the same thing with lasers or a knife, but the trick has been figuring out how to accurately target the offending fibrous bands without hurting any surrounding tissue, which can cause painful side effects. Cellfina takes the guesswork out of the picture by automating the process. First, the administering cosmetic doctor will circle each dimple, then one by one, the doctor will target each circle. The Cellfina device  first numbs the area with an injection of lidocaine, then grabs the skin with the aid of suction and slides a miniature blade about six millimeters below the skin to cut the attachment. The procedure takes about 45 minutes and results can be seen as early as three days, but it usually takes three months to see the full effects.

Smartlipo is mainly used for body contouring, but the procedure has also caused cellulite reduction in patients, a fortunate by-product of the treatment. SmartLipo differs from traditional liposuction in that it uses a temperature-sensing cannula, the small tube that sucks out the fat cells, and a fine laser. Inserted beneath the skin, the laser liquefies fat cells, which the cannula can then more accurately remove, and heats the skin in the treated areas, stimulating collagen production and tightening the skin, thus reducing the look of hills and valleys. Read more about this process in The Arsenal.

Approved by the FDA in 2012, Cellulaze uses a laser to target the underlying fibrous bands. In this treatment, a cosmetic doctor circles the areas and then creates a small incision and threads the Cellulaze laser through a very small tube (or cannula). It also melts fat cells so they can be removed and heats skin to activate a healing process that firms the area, thickening skin and improving elasticity. There’s a little more downtime with this procedure. It’ll take a day or two to get back to normal activity, you have to wait a week or two to workout, and you’ll also have to wear compression garments. One procedure takes about an hour and half, and results start to appear in three months, but may take a year to see full results.

If you want to avoid any sort of invasive treatment, then you may want to consider Lipomassage. It’s doesn’t show as dramatic results, and the results you see only last for as long as you keep getting the treatments, so it’s a commitment. But you don’t have to deal with needles, lasers, or knives. Lipomassage is just that—a fat massage. The Lipomassage machine is outfitted with different sized rollers, for different areas of the body, and they suction up your bulges and roll them through an intense massage to stimulate adipose tissue and breakdown fat for reduced, more even skin. It also helps to increase blood flow and lymphatic circulation to flush out fat cells, and jumpstart collagen production to firm and tighten skin. You usually sign up for a series of six sessions spaced out by a week or two.

Charlotte Knows… 
While there still is no permanent solution to eradicate cellulite, Cellfina is the most exciting option right now. It has the strongest clinical studies showing dramatic improvement in the appearance of cellulite and the longest-lasting results. But remember, getting rid of your cellulite is not the same thing as getting rid of unwanted fat. If you are more interested in losing inches than dimples, then you can consider UltraShape or CoolSculpting.


So, do body slimming creams actually work?Plus, this former Self editor investigates CoolSculpting.


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Got a question about skincare, anti-aging, aesthetics, or wellness?
Use #AskCharlotte on Instagram or shoot us an email and we’ll do the legwork for you.
It’d be our pleasure.


Photo: The one and only Giselle Bündchen for Vogue Italia June 2013

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