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Fighting Cellulite: 'Jean' Therapy to Creams

No cellulite treatments work permanently, but we keep trying them anyway

Endermologie

One of the best-known cellulite treatments is Endermologie, a "deep-massage" approach to reducing cellulite developed in France. It uses a device that suctions the skin with a vacuum and kneads it with a set of rollers.

"Some studies have shown the deep-tissue massage can break up some of the fibrous bands, help circulation, and improve the appearance of the skin," says Tanzi. She says that while it works for some women, the effects don't last. You'll need regular maintenance treatments to keep up appearances.

Tanzi estimates that individual sessions cost anywhere from $100 to several hundred dollars. They're usually done weekly and take about an hour.

"If you've got a lot of disposable income, I think Endermologie is the best way to go," says Donofrio. "It's going to cost some money, but some people will get pretty nice results. A lot of people will get no results, but at least they're not going to get hurt."

Mesotherapy

Another cellulite treatment originally developed in France, mesotherapy, involves a series of injections into small pockets of cellulite. They contain a solution -- a cocktail of homeopathic medications and supplements -- that supposedly break down fat and flush it away.

"It's pretty well accepted by women in Europe," says Tanzi. "But it hasn't been studied scientifically here. There's a lot of skepticism."

She also points out that any cellulite treatment that requires injections -- in this case, a lot of injections -- heightens the risk for side effects and problems. It's also very expensive, with individual sessions costing perhaps hundreds of dollars.

"I consider mesotherapy a snake oil," says Donofrio. "If you look at the literature, there just isn't good evidence that it works and it can also cause really serious infections."

Herbal Medicines

The fact is that no combination or herbs or vitamins is known to have any effect on cellulite whatsoever. If you want to try one anyway, check with your doctor first, since some can cause dangerous interactions with other medications. Remember, just because a remedy is "natural" or "traditional" doesn't mean it is safe, let alone a good cellulite treatment.

Liposuction

You might think that if cellulite is just fat, liposuction is just what you need. But that's not the case.

"We get a lot of patients who think that liposuction will help," says Tanzi. "We try to correct them very quickly. Not only does liposuction not help, but it can actually make cellulite look worse."

The problem is that liposuction can really only get at fat that's deep down beneath the skin. Cellulite is generally too close to the surface for liposuction to help. Besides, it's the fibrous bands that really give cellulite its appearance anyway -- getting rid of fat alone wouldn't really do much.

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