Problem 5: Lumps & Bumps
Cellulite is a fact of life for about 90 percent of us, and as of yet, there's not a lot we can do about it. A few high-tech machines are approved by the FDA for a temporary reduction in the appearance of cellulite (there is no indication how long results might last).
VelaShape and SmoothShapes are the most promising at the moment. VelaShape combines radiofrequency and infrared light energy, suction, and mechanical massage, and SmoothShapes is a hybrid of laser, light, massage, and suction. Most doctors say a series of treatments will noticeably smooth bumps—but consistent maintenance is necessary. VelaShape requires a touch-up every three to six months; SmoothShapes requires one at least once a year.
Liposuction is a one-shot deal, but even this invasive procedure won't necessarily improve cellulite. "Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes it makes cellulite worse," says Heidi Waldorf, MD, director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. You can suck out some of the fat, but you can't do anything about the fibrous bands that create dimpling. (This is also why all the squats, lunges, and leg lifts in the world won't help cellulite.)
Mesotherapy is a catchall term for injecting who-knows-what into cellulite in an effort to liquidate it. "It's not regulated," Francesca Fusco says. Lipodissolve involves injecting a specific ingredient that has been shown to dissolve fat (in test tubes). "There have been reports of some very scary side effects, though," Fusco says. "It's promising, and some very respected doctors are conducting studies, but I wouldn't recommend it anytime soon."
Topical cellulite creams contain ingredients (usually caffeine or a derivative) that act as diuretics, removing moisture from the skin, which makes it firmer for a few hours. (So: Rub it in, get to the beach, and get back fast?) Some of these creams also contain retinol, which helps refine the surface of the skin and can boost collagen production. Over time, retinol improves the texture of your skin (but not your cellulite).