- Home remedies that can help cellulite look smoother temporarily include retinol and caffeine scrubs.
- Strength training can help build muscle, reduce weight gain, and may help prevent cellulite.
- It’s impossible to get rid of cellulite completely, but there are ways to reduce its appearance.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Cellulite is a common condition that looks like puckered skin. It is both harmless and painless. Often described as dimpled or bumpy flesh, cellulite is found predominantly in female bodies — as many as 80% to 90% — especially in the butt, thigh, hips, and abdomen.
You can’t completely get rid of cellulite, but you can reduce its appearance
While it’s impossible to get rid of cellulite completely, there are some ways you can reduce its appearance. Some medical procedures recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology include laser treatment, vacuum-assisted precise tissue release, and subcision.
However, medical procedures can be expensive, require repeat visits, and none are permanent. In contrast, home remedies are noninvasive and relatively inexpensive. But it’s important to note that these home remedies won’t reduce cellulite permanently. Most are a temporary fix.
“Some treatments have a transient impact by increasing swelling to mask the appearance,” says Manhattan-based board-certified dermatologist Dina D. Strachan, MD.
Here are some popular home remedies for cellulite that may temporarily help:
There is little evidence that massage can tighten or improve the appearance of cellulite long-term, says Tanya Kormeili, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in private practice in Santa Monica, California. However, deep massage can cause inflammation and swelling, which may improve the appearance of the cellulite temporarily.
Exfoliate with coffee
There’s no real evidence exfoliating with coffee grounds helps reduce cellulite, says Kormeili. “However, caffeine does cause local constriction of blood vessels and the dimples may appear softer,” she tells Insider.
Exercise — both cardio and weight-training — may help make cellulite less visible as people lose fat. However, experts say that weight loss may also make cellulite more prominent in some people because skin can be looser. Kormeili says, “there is no real evidence that the cellulite dissolves with either” weight loss or improved muscle tone.
Dry brushing is a technique that involves using a brush with stiff bristles to brush the affected skin in long circles or strokes. Dry brushing does not reduce cellulite, but as with deep massage, the swelling it induces may help the dimples look softer for a short period of time, says Kormeili.
As far as topicals go, applying retinoids at a 0.3% concentration for at least six months can have a thickening effect on the skin around the cellulite, making it look smoother, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Kormeili cautions that results are modest.
What causes cellulite?
Cellulite comes from fat, but you don’t have to be overweight to have cellulite. The dimpled appearance from cellulite happens when excess fat invades the fibrous tissues that separate fat from muscle.
Normally, you have cords, or bands, of fibrous connective tissue underneath your skin that are taut, giving the skin a smooth appearance. But sometimes excess fat will build up around the cords, which causes them to go slack, creating a dimpled effect on the skin’s surface, aka cellulite, says Kormeili.
Cellulite is the dimpling of the skin and is common on the thighs, butt, stomach, and arms of women.
Barks_japan/ Getty Images
“If these bands are very tight, like control-top pantyhose then there is no fat building between them, and no cellulite,” says Kormeili.
Kormeili says the anatomy of the female body may require these fibrous connections to be looser, allowing for more fat to dimple and cause cellulite. Though it’s unclear why some people are more prone to cellulite than others, some other factors that can increase the likelihood of cellulite include:
- Low estrogen levels: Cellulite becomes more prevalent during menopause when estrogen levels decrease triggering a subsequent reduction in collagen and fibers that give skin its elasticity.
- Pregnancy: Weight gain during pregnancy can make cellulite more visible.
- Genetics: Your genes play a key role in the overall structure, texture, and elasticity of your skin. And since skin elasticity is related to cellulite formation, it’s common for cellulite to run in families.
The fact that the appearance of cellulite is bothersome to many people underscores how universal it is, despite the smooth-skinned models we often see in popular culture.
“Most women have it in real life, although airbrushing [in magazines] makes us forget that,” says Jean Kim, MD, a professor of psychiatry at George Washington University.
How to prevent cellulite
Some experts consider exercise the key to preventing cellulite — especially strength training, says Wayne L. Westcott, PhD, the chair of exercise science at Quincy College.
Important: Cellulite is common and it’s not necessary to reduce cellulite for health purposes.
As we age, three things tend to happen that increases the chance of cellulite:
Strength training combats muscle loss and weight gain, which is why it can be an effective preventative for cellulite as you grow older.
Due to its anatomical structure, cellulite is very hard to prevent or eliminate. Overall, fitness may be the best option for reducing the look of cellulite, although results are neither guaranteed nor permanent.
While getting rid of cellulite completely may not be possible, treatments like massage, retinol, and caffeine may help the skin look smoother temporarily.
Moreover, strength training exercises can help build muscle, reduce the risk of weight gain, and consequently may help prevent cellulite formation with age.
As bothersome as cellulite is, wanting to take more aggressive measures to get rid of it may speak to mental health or other personal concerns.
“If someone wants to do a procedure, that’s their choice, but they should maybe consider the root issue of why it’s bothering them so much,” says Kim.
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