The skinny on cellulite

    I hope they make a video game of me. At least I wouldn’t have any cellulite then.” – actress Scarlett Johansson


    If there’s one problem zone on their bodies that women wish they could photoshop away, cellulite would be high on the list. This unsightly skin condition affects an estimated 90% of the female population over the age of 20 – and yes, even those with big Hollywood beauty budgets at their disposal.


    Contrary to popular belief, cellulite is not due to an overabundance of fat. Many people confuse cellulite with excess fat but it’s actually a complex condition due to lack of proper blood circulation. As a result, the body’s underlying connective tissue becomes damaged, pockets of fat and toxins become trapped and clump together, causing the irregular and patchy dimpling in the skin also known as “orange-peel syndrome” or “cottage-cheese skin”.

    Almost all women are at risk. This equal-opportunity disease has even been known to afflict supermodels, toned athletes and naturally thin women. Men are a bit luckier since they have thicker skins, both literally and figuratively, which are more resistant to fat storage and less prone to deformed fat cells. But don’t flip to the sports section just yet, guys, as research indicates that an ever-increasing number of male patients are also seeking treatment for this ugly and annoying problem.

    While a healthy lifestyle may prevent the formation of cellulite, frustratingly, once the condition has manifested itself, in many cases no amount of dieting or exercise sufficiently combats the problem.


    There’s been much speculation as to the exact cause but, in brief, our lives in the express lane of the information superhighway are most likely the biggest culprits, combined with hereditary predisposition. A poor diet consisting of alcohol, processed foods, saturated fats and caffeine contributes to cellulite since the toxins they produce get trapped in fatty tissue. Not taking the time to drink plenty of water inhibits the body from flushing toxins out of the system. Smoking further aggravates matters since it promotes cellulite by damaging the connective tissues. And it will probably come as no surprise that a sedentary lifestyle – sitting on your bum for most of the day – won’t do your posterior any good either.


    Some over-the-counter anti-cellulite creams may help reduce the appearance of cellulite, if combined with daily massaging the area for 15 minutes. In many cases however, these products don’t have much of an impact.


    Before you throw in the beach towel and resolve never to wear a bathing suit in broad daylight again, the good news is that there are a variety of high-tech treatment options available. They have proven remarkably successful in smoothing over those potholes of flesh and restoring that youthful glow to your skin. The technologies work by restoring blood circulation in the cellulite-ridden area while at the same time reducing the “clumping” of trapped fat cells.

    Cell-U-Slim uses a technique called ultrasonic cavitations. The ultrasound improves blood circulation and implodes trapped fat cells which have built up over time beneath the surface of the skin. The procedure involves applying a slimming gel to the offending area and using a handheld suction-roller device. The liquefied fat cells are naturally expelled by the body. A change becomes noticeable after five or six treatments, with 12 treatments recommended for optimum results

    One of the most advanced treatments in electro-aesthetics of the 21st century in the fight against flaccidity and cellulite is Therma Slim. The technology stimulates the renewal of collagen by utilising radio waves. The radio waves produce thermal energy through rapid vibrations and this energy can be used to selectively target the deep dermis and subdermic layers while leaving the epidermis untouched. The outcome is a new, smoother skin layer with rejuvenated elasticity and shine. One of the best things about Therma Slim is that it’s virtually painless and the treatment leaves you feeling like you have just undergone a relaxing body massage.

    Another treatment employed by specialists is Core Temperature Cold Therapy which uses deep-acting infrared heat to help develop and maintain the body’s capillary network. Blood circulation to the skin’s surface is increased and this, combined with the infrared heat’s super cleansing effect, will make a significant improvement to the texture, complexion and tone of your skin.

    Carboxy injections have been around for 20 years and were first developed in Europe. An odourless gas is injected by a surgeon into the area to be treated, improving blood circulation and causing fat cells to collapse. It is recommended that you start with two or three treatments a week. Patients can expect to see results after a few sessions, with a total of 10 sessions typically required.

    More “stubborn” types of cellulite which have proven resistant to exercise are best targeted with Zeltiq Coolsculpting, a revolutionary new technology discovered by a team from Harvard Medical School. Using a precisely controlled cooling method known as cryolipolysis, it works by holding a device against the area to be treated and then becoming cold enough to target only the fat cells in that area. The body reacts with an inflammatory response that naturally disposes of the damaged fat cells. In due course, a significant improvement in the shape of the body will be noticeable. Side-effects such as redness of the skin are minimal and usually subside within a few hours.

    Thermage is a popular procedure for skin tightening because it’s incision-free and requires little downtime. A trained therapist heats a large volume of collagen in the deeper layers of the skin and its underlying tissue while simultaneously protecting the outer layer of the skin with cooling. This deep, uniform heating action causes deep structures in the skin to immediately tighten. Over time, new and remodelled collagen is produced to further tighten skin, resulting in healthier, smoother skin with a rejuvenated appearance.

    Laser Lipolysis employs laser technology to demolish fat cells and it’s used for both liposuction as well as the reduction of cellulite. Administered under local anaesthesia, the procedure entails inserting small, flexible tubes (cannulae) with a numbing solution into the skin, followed by the use of a laser directed through the cannulae. The laser breaks down the membranes of the fatty tissue, reducing them to liquid. The liquefied fat is either naturally eliminated by the body or sucked out, depending on the size of the area to be treated. An added bonus of using lasers is the tightening effect it has on the skin. The laser generates heat causing microscopic changes and collagen contraction, with subsequent collagen remodelling over the course of months. SmartLipo may not be able to completely eliminate cellulite but a considerable improvement in skin texture is often visible.


    Before considering any cosmetic treatments it’s essential to consult a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. After an initial assessment, the specialist can advise which treatment plan is the most suitable for you. The key to ensuring that results are long-lasting is to maintain a balanced lifestyle with healthy eating habits and regular exercise.

    And, if all else fails, remember to avoid those teensy mini-skirts – especially if there are paparazzi around!