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Cellulite Debate: Prevention Better than Cure

We call it many names — orange peel, cottage cheese, hail damage — but we all know what it is. Although men can also get cellulite, women, even the “thin”, suffer with cellulite. This unsightly condition makes its ugly mark on the tummy, the hips, butt and even the legs and upper arms.

Several factors influence whether a person has cellulite and how much they have. Your genetics, your gender, the amount of your body fat, your age, and the thickness of your skin all play a role in how much cellulite you have and how visible it is. If your mother and grandmother had it, chances are good that you do too.

There are literally hundreds of creams, lotions, potions and pills all promising cellulite reducing powers. The following are some of the legitimate treatments available:

Laser Toning:

For cellulite that has more ripples than dimples, Beverly Hills dermatologist, Harold Lancer, M.D., relies on the “Galaxy,” a device commonly used for facial wrinkles. It directs radio frequency and laser light energy beneath the skin's surface, causing a wound response that lays down new collagen and tightens the skin. Dr. Lancer states, “I've treated 100 patients with the Galaxy, and the results are good.” He is one of the few doctors using the laser for cellulite.

Cold-Laser Massage:

The Tri-Active laser was approved by the FDA in January 2004, and it is permitted to claim that it “temporarily reduces the appearance of cellulite.” It combines suction massage to increase lymphatic drainage, which filters fluid from the cells. Low intensity diodes heat to stimulate collagen production and tighten the skin, while a cooling head counters the burning sensation. According to Dr. Mitchell Goldman, M.D., an associate professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Diego, “it is so painless, you fall asleep while it's being done.” However, pain is a relative thing. One patient said that the pain level for her ranged “from that of a pleasant, light massage to an uncomfortable, deep-tissue rubdown.”

Mechanical Massage:

Edermologie's Cellu M6 Keymodule is a handheld device that sucks up about an inch of skin, between rollers, and squeezes it to increase blood and lymphatic flow, stretching out the dimple-causing cords. One patient describes the process as hurting “a little, depending on how high the dial is cranked up,” something like a mini-mammogram for the thighs. The temporary swelling that results helps disguise cellulite, reports V. Leroy Young, M.D., chairman of the nonsurgical procedures committee of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). “There's a good animal study showing Endermologie produces a little collagen in deep dermis,” he says. One wonders what poor animal had to stand still for that. The Cellu M6 has been cleared by the FDA for “temporary improvement in local blood circulation and . . . in the appearance of cellulite.”

Prevention Better than Cure:

While many of these “solutions” can reduce the appearance of cellulite, they almost never solve the problem completely and often not at all. With cellulite, prevention is certainly better than cure.

Many experts believe that cellulite, which at the end of the day is fat trapped underneath the surface of the skin, can be avoided by following some simple nutritional guidelines. For example avoiding high fat foods, avoiding highly processed and convenience foods, and cutting back on salt. Increasing your fiber and water intake has also been said to prevent cellulite. Cut out the carbonation and caffeine in your diet. These are thought to contribute to the appearance and severity of cellulite. At the same time, exercise and keeping your body weight fairly regular can keep cellulite at bay.

Your best bet in fighting off cellulite and to stop it from appearing is to follow a healthy, balanced lifestyle and stay active.

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