4 Cellulite Myths That Need to End
The Truth: This one has been floating around for a while, and while experts do think cellulite is somehow linked to estrogen (because so many women get it, but it's very rare in men, and women can develop it anytime after puberty, when estrogen levels start to rise), there's no scientific evidence that taking birth control pills can trigger cellulite's appearance or make it more severe, says Robyn Gmyrek, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York. Experts don't know why cellulite develops, just that it happens when fat cells push against the network of fibrous bands that connect your skin to the muscles underneath the fat, creating a bumpy or dimpled appearance.
Myth #2: Creams that claim to treat it are total bunk.
The Truth: This one is actually only 5 percent de-bunkable. There is no miracle potion you can rub on to get rid of cellulite long-term, but experts say some creams and lotions can improve the look of skin for a very short amount of time (e.g., during the few hours you were planning on wearing shorts today). Preparations that stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, like caffeinated creams and those with retinols, may work best because they make the skin look temporarily tighter, says Gmyrek. Talk to your dermatologist before you try retinols though, since they can be irritating and shouldn't be mixed with sun exposure.
Myth #3: Moves that target your lower body can erase it (Spin class, anyone?).
The Truth: Working up a sweat has a ton of benefits, but erasing cellulite isn't one of them. Look no further than dedicated gym-goers whose butt and thighs still have a dimpled appearance, says Gmyrek. That being said, regular exercise can make cellulite look a little bit better—as long as you keep up the work. "Poor circulation might be a contributing factor in cellulite, and exercise increases blood flow throughout the body," explains Binh Ngo, MD, assistant professor of dermatology and director of cosmetic dermatology at the USC Keck School of Medicine, in Los Angeles. "It can also help you avoid weight gain, which can make existing cellulite worse." (When fat cells grow in size or number, they press harder against those fibrous bands, which makes dimples you already have more pronounced.)
Myth #4: You can get rid of cellulite for good—if you're open to a somewhat invasive treatment
The Truth: There's no permanent fix, no matter how invasive, or expensive, a procedure is. Even the most "long-term" results last just a couple of years, says Gmyrek. If your cellulite really bothers you, though, there are two treatments that the dermatologists we spoke with said are effective, if temporary. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012, Cellulaze uses a laser inserted beneath the skin through a small incision to heat up and melt the fat while also cutting the fibrous bands that cause the dimpled look. Cellfina (FDA approved in 2015) focuses on just the bands, numbing each individual dimple before inserting a small blade to cut them. One treatment should give you results with either method; cellulite reduction should last one year or more with Cellulaze and two years or more with Cellfina. Just remember that these options are pricey (depending on where you live, Cellulaze can cost up to $5,000 per area you're targeting, says Ngo), and if you want the effect to last, you'll have to keep going back for more sessions once the cellulite comes back.