As unsightly as it can get, cellulite is not different from any other fat in the human body. Its occurrence in women is more common than in men due to the irregularity of discontinuous tissue. Because cellulite is similar to body fat in any other part of our body, there are effective strategies for cellulite treatment through natural agents, thermogenic agents, and dietary supplement strategies.
Cellulite is not considered attractive but is it something to be ashamed of? When studies suggest that, it affects 85% of postpubertal women. A variety of treatments, ranging from exercise to dietary principle, to liposuction, to mesotherapy to radiofrequency, have been doing the rounds in the market with significant results. But no treatment has a 100% efficacy rate. Let’s understand first, the nature of cellulite and then dig deep into the plethora of treatments available in the market.
The word ‘Cellulite’ finds its earliest mention in French medical literature, some 150 years ago. Cellulite, or lipodystrophy, is described as an orange peel or cottage cheese type dumpling of skin, most naturally found in the hip and thigh region. However, this phenomenon can be found in any part of the body harboring subcutaneous adipose tissue (mostly the gluteal region). It is not deathly and thus, is entirely a cosmetic concern. Rarely observed in men, it does though hit men with androgen-deficient states.
The factors which have largely been presumed to explain the physiology of cellulite include:-
1. Gender – As stated earlier, cellulite is mostly prevalent in women where herniations of fat into the dermis is characteristic of female anatomy whereas, in men, the dermal-adipose connective tissue is mostly found smooth and continuous.
2. Vascular changes – Increased lipogenesis, carbohydrate-rich diet, hypoxia, and increased capillary pressure all lead to collagenesis and capillary neoformation. This, in turn, leads to the thickening of the fibrous septae in the adipose tissue, causing a padded appearance.
Much of the cellulite treatment is based upon anecdotal, subjective, and self-assessment evidence. MRI imaging and ultrasound have been found the best to assess improvement in patients. Cellulite inciting factors include -stress, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and hormonal contraceptives. However, it must be cleared at this stage that obesity itself doesn’t confirm the formation of cellulite. Adipocyte fat alone doesn’t create cellulite.
Cellulite reduction received traction in the early 1990s when a group of former Miss Italy contestants asked pharmacist Dr. Gianfranco Merrizi for a solution. He developed a cellulite reduction formula, therefore, consisting of natural agents like fish oils, Evening Primrose, grape seed extract, Soya Lecithin, and iron oxide, to name a few ingredients. This cellulite treatment was based upon the idea that these natural agents would transfer stored fat from cellulite to the muscles and get burnt in the form of energy fuels. All these natural ingredients helped increase blood circulation, normalizing capillary activity, thereby decreasing cholesterol.
Although improving blood circulation has remained the most effective cellulite treatment strategy, numerous other strategies have been beneficial to the cause. One such strategy is the fat absorption strategy, consisting of chitosan and oligopeptides. Research says that chitosan is very effective at promoting weight loss. Oligopeptides, too, help in combating the conversion of dietary fat to body fat through the suppression of triglycerides. (fat found in the blood)
Here are some of the most famed treatments of cellulite:-
1. Liposuction – Liposuction, when associated with autologous fat grafting, it produces wonderful results. Liposuction, is anyway, an excellent method for improving body contour, but experts warn against untrained surgeons. If it is performed too close to the overlying dermal layer, it can result in skin irregularities. It helps in reducing deeper subcutaneous fat and releases subcutaneous fibrous septa.
2. Subcision – This method has been effective to improve moderate to severe cellulite. After local anesthesia, a surgical needle is inserted into the subcutaneous fat, thereby diminishing the lumpy skin appearance. This method disrupts the fibrous bands and shears fat septae.
3. Laser treatment – Using a 1400mm laser, cellulite treatment has seen some positive effects like adipocyte rupture, coagulation of collagen, reorganization of the reticular dermis. Laser-assisted advances have decreased the traumatic removal of fat and increased coagulation of blood vessels, leading to reduced hematomas.
4. Mesotherapy – Another highly popular cellulite treatment, mesotherapy involves a series of injections inserted into the subcutis. One of the most important ingredients for the solution used is Soy Lecithin, helpful in lipolysis. Herbal extracts, vitamins, minerals are also used.
5. Creams and topical treatments – Abundant creams in the market claim to correct cellulite. Mostly these creams have active ingredients like caffeine, vegetable oils which stimulate collagen synthesis. Xanthines and retinoic acid receptors are topical treatments for cellulite that help to improve microcirculation. Other effective forms of treatments include endermologie, ultrasound, carboxytherapy to name a few.
It cannot be stressed enough that though all the aforementioned strategies are very effective in combating cellulite treatment, the proper dietary principle has equal weightage compared to them. An increase in fiber-rich foods and cutting down on excess fat will reap dual results. Not only is it fundamental to cellulite treatment, but reducing the consumption of dietary fat helps fight weight issues. Fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains are good sources of nutrients and are effective in putting up resistance against cardiovascular diseases.
Lastly, incorporate exercise into this entire strategy. But the form of exercise is necessary. Aerobic exercises cause body fat to be burnt as a source of energy exhausting the blood sugar supply. Exercises help in staying fit and burning body fat and additionally, shift the body’s metabolism towards storing calories as muscle glycogen.
Currently, there are hundreds of devices and medications to treat cellulite but none that is 100% scientifically proven. Upper thigh skin cellulite can be improved through radiofrequency, however, the results are not long-lasting. In near future, non-invasive forms of treatment such as laser, look promising. Cellulite is a topographical skin alteration defined as a metabolic and structural disorder. It is easier to induce than to ameliorate.