Cellulite, the dimply wrinkled friend you can't wait to get rid off
First, accept that it’s a natural, normal part of every human body
We’ve poked and prodded it. Tried creams and rollers to get rid of it, bought the body-hugging, borderline asphyxiating “shapewear” to suck it up and smoothen it, but those cellulite bumps and dimples never went away.
Cellulite wasn’t always a matter of scorn. Think back to your time at art museums and you’ll probably remember a painting or two featuring nude figures in their natural forms celebrated as great beauties – all with cellulite-like bumps, puckered skin and dimples. Like Peter Paul Rubens’ works The Three Graces and The Judgement of Paris, for example.
With the body positivity movement gaining momentum, we’ve thankfully moved forward in accepting our bodies for what they are. Whether it’s cellulite or stretch marks and body hair, it’s your prerogative to do what you want to do.
If you’ve come to accept cellulite as a natural, normal part of the body — whether the scale stops at 40 kilos or 80 — you don’t need to question it either.
If it’s something that plays on your mind, there are a few things you can try to diminish its appearance.
We roped in a fitness trainer and nutritionist and a dermatologist to help us better understand our dimply friend: How it forms and what exercises, lifestyle changes and treatments we can try.
Everything you’ve wanted to know about reducing cellulite
Anyone can get cellulite, and it’s not because of your weight
Contrary to popular belief, those numbers on the scale having little to do with the appearance of cellulite. You could weigh 50 kilos and have lots of it or weigh 95 kilos and have none. Several things have been floated as possible contributors but there’s no definitive cause known as yet, explains dermatologist Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta of ISAAC Luxe.
“Weight gain can make cellulite more noticeable, but some lean people have cellulite, as well. It tends to run in families, genetics play the biggest role in developing cellulite,” she says.
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It could be hormonal, she adds, as many believe that “estrogen, insulin, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones, and prolactin are part of the cellulite production process.”
An unhealthy high fat diet with too many processed carbohydrates, salt and little fibre can contribute to the formation.
Gupta says that other lifestyle factors like smoking, lack of exercise and even the clothes we wear like underwear with tight elastic across the bum limits blood flow and may contribute to cellulite.
Don’t fall for the magic claims of topical treatments
Women drew the short end of the stick when it comes to cellulite. We’re more likely to develop it as the distribution of fat is more visible in women than in men. “Most women develop some cellulite after puberty. This is because women’s fat is typically distributed in the thighs, hips and buttocks. Cellulite can become more visible as you age and your skin becomes thinner and loses elasticity, “says Gupta.
It’s no wonder then that a slew of ointments and unguents are marketed towards the female audience, playing cruelly on body image issues and unrealistic beauty standards. But there’s only so much that these topical preparations can do and according to the experts, their effect is temporary.
“Topical treatments may help to reduce the visibility of cellulite, but the effects may not be long-lasting. You have to be consistent in applying the products to see visible results,” explains Gupta.
Caffeine and grape seed extract is the most common ingredients in topical creams. Caffeine dilates blood vessels which can reduce the appearance of skin dimples and is also thought to break down fat and tighten skin, though this is still contested.
Another ingredient Gupta mentions is retinol at a 0.3% concentration that could help in “reducing the appearance of cellulite by thickening the top layer of the skin.”
Dermatologist in-clinic treatments you can try
1. Acoustic Wave Therapy treatment: Commonly known as ‘X wave’ treatment, this process involves the introduction of specific sound waves that shake loose the fatty, fibrous clumps of cellulite.
2. Exilis Elite Ultra: It is one of the few non-invasive face tightening and body contouring treatments that allow you to lose fat and reshape your body without any cuts or incisions. Exilis Elite Ultra uses a combination of radiofrequency energy, ultrasound and skin cooling to transfer heat onto the deeper layers of the skin, whilst protecting the outer layer.
3. Lymphatic Drainage: The lymphatic drainage suit is a dynamic compression device with attachments which go on the legs, abdomen and hips. It uses compressed air to massage your limbs and mobilise fluid with a pulse pattern. It stimulates your lymphatic system by compressing and decompressing a specific part of your body, helping you get rid of toxins, water retention and cellulite.
4. Injection Lipolysis: This is also known as fat-burning injections. It’s a minimally invasive procedure that targets fat pockets where fat cells are broken and destroyed. The number of sittings/injections is determined by how much cellulite you’re trying to smoothen out.
All services available at ISAAC Luxe
A diet that’s healthy for your body and skin
While in-clinic dermatological treatments can work wonders for your skin, they may require upkeep for you to maintain the desired results. Doing these treatments along with adopting a nutritious diet and structured exercise regime makes a more all-encompassing approach to keeping the cellulite at bay for longer.
“A well-structured balanced diet works wonderfully for permanent and sustainable results.” Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet that are rich in vitamins and minerals, these do well for your skin as well as overall health. She adds that there’s no harm in taking a collagen supplement orally if needed in your diet.
The Ketogenic diet is not just a lockdown fad diet but it also very effective according to experts. It can help in “lowering your overall body fat percentage, hence, cellulite, too,” says Chhabra.
Her suggestions for changes in your daily diet include:
– Lean proteins like eggs, fish, paneer or chicken
– Complex carbohydrates like oats, quinoa, legumes, millets
– Good fats which include ghee, butter
– Omega 3 fatty acids which are in flaxseeds, chia seeds, fish, walnuts, and more, and a good amount of fibre from whole grains, broccoli, beans and nuts like sunflower seeds and almonds.
“Avoid refined and processed food, it contains chemicals which are harmful to our health. Drinking seven glasses of water throughout the day helps in detoxification and excreting waste from our body, maintaining healthy skin and hair,” adds Gupta.
Work it out with multitasking exercises
Most of us will notice cellulite on our lower body, including thighs, hips and bum, sometimes even around the knee. You can even develop cellulite on your upper arms. Chhabra says the best exercises we can do to target these are compound movements that “activate and target multiple muscle groups in one action.”
Some examples are squats, deadlifts, planks, lunges and burpees. You can incorporate these in your daily workout routines one at a time, performing them with free weights or just your bodyweight.
Like Gupta says, “If you’re dead set on getting rid of the cellulite, you have to look for the long term goals.”
You’re going to want to ease into and focus on the end game. If on day one, my lifestyle includes snacking on Kurkure and doing jhaadu-pocha-bartan as a workout, day two can’t be a full-blown Katrina Kaif-level workout. You’re going to end up with some serious workout injuries that can easily be avoided.
Incorporate exercises into your routine but know your bodies limits as well. Diminishing the appearance of cellulite can take time, but if you’re set on it, then put on that workout gear, put away the KitKat and get moving.