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Fighting Cellulite: 'Jean' Therapy to Creams

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

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.

Other Treatments

A number of cellulite-treatment devices have been developed that combine deep tissue massage with other features, such as light and radio frequency therapy.

Tanzi is taking part in a clinical trial of one such device called the VelaSmooth, manufactured by Syneron. Although the results won't be known for a few months, Tanzi is optimistic about the treatment.

"In general, I think the future of cellulite treatment is very promising," says Tanzi. "In the future, we're going to have treatments that, if not permanent, will certainly be longer lasting than what we have now."

But Donofrio says that future is a long way off.

"We're not even close," she tells WebMD. Donofrio likens treating cellulite to changing your hair color: You might be able to get a temporary effect, but there's no way to do anything permanent. Achieving that would require genetic changes -- a lot more than dyes or creams can do.

What Can Be Done?

Obviously, there's little evidence that any of these cellulite treatments will do much. Until that miraculous cure appears, if it ever does, we'll all just have to muddle through. If you're dying to try something -- and provided the therapy you want has no risks -- both Tanzi and Donofrio say you can give it a shot. However, keep a level head: at best, the results are going to be modest. Think hard before investing too much money.

If you're considering treatment in a doctor's office, Donofrio recommends shopping around. Don't sign on to a treatment after only talking to one doctor. Donofrio observes that some doctors who have ponied up for an expensive cellulite-treatment machine might be tempted to use it even in cases where it probably won't work. If you do decide to get a series of treatments, make sure you understand how many you'll need and how much you're paying.

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