8 cellulite dos and don'ts

Posted: 10 April 2013

Think only fat people get cellulite? Or that drinking water gets rid of it but exercise doesn't? We separate the fact from the fiction...

1. Cellulite is simply fat

False. Cellulite is mostly fat that has been damaged and is the result of poor circulation and drainage. Dr Elizabeth Dancey, a London cosmetic medicine practitioner and author of The Cellulite Solution, says women's fat cells are held in supporting fibres that are not as closely interconnected as men's.

An inactive lifestyle results in the fibres tightening their hold on the fat cells which then leads to that stubborn, ugly dimpling we call cellulite. So do watch your weight and don't be a slave to your desk or sofa!

2. Cellulite is hereditary

True. Just as some families are susceptible to certain diseases, the possibility of extreme cellulite being present is no different. But hormones, diet and lifestyle play an important role too, so if your mum and grandmother have or had cellulite, it doesn't mean to say that you can't influence it. Therefore, the sooner you take care of yourself, the better.

3. Having cellulite means you are overweight

This is one of the most common myths and can be very frustrating for those people who are not overweight. Over 80 per cent of women in the western world have cellulite to some degree and that includes skinny people and even supermodels (Tyra Banks has admitted to having cellulite).

Keep on top of your weight to avoid 'yo-yoing', which stretches the connective tissue in your skin and makes cellulite worse. And if your weight's fine, don't try to lose more in a bid to reduce cellulite. The chances are it won't make much difference.

4. Cellulite gets worse as you get older

Unfortunately, for the majority of us, this is true, says Dr Dancey. Cellulite starts to form as soon as oestrogen levels increase at puberty, and it should be remembered that it is a degenerative condition. As the years pass, we tend to be less active, put on weight and the skin thins.

As a result, fat cells get bigger, supporting fibres stretch, circulation decreases, more fluid gets trapped and the puckering effect makes cellulite more obvious. To stop unnecessary amounts of toxins building up in trapped fluid, cut down on the worst offenders: caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.

5. Drinking water will improve cellulite

False. It won't fix the condition. Most of us are more dehydrated than we think and it's the outer organ, the skin, that goes without, as the water you do have is used by the vital internal organs first. However, aim to drink 1.5 litres of water a day to maintain a healthy lymphatic system to remove waste products and keep water levels in your skin at an optimum level. Don't drink too much as swelling under the skin can make cellulite look worse.

Tip: on the subject of water, start body brushing three times a week in your shower and massage towards the heart to boost lymph drainage and your general circulation.

6. Exercise will smooth out cellulite

True. Although it won't get rid of it, as even athletes can have cellulite. The fact that working out improves circulation, removes excess fluid and tones muscles, means that skin will look smoother, regardless of the cellulite.

To stimulate your circulation and boost lymphatic drainage you need to think of your diaphragm and stomach muscles as a piston, so you need to aerobically exercise your whole body for around half an hour up to five times a week for best results. Include dancing, cycling, sit-ups, squats and leg curls and finish with long stretches.

7. A healthy diet will prevent cellulite

Not really. Of course, a healthy diet is always a good idea, but it doesn't mean that you won't get cellulite at all.

'We do know that anti-oxidants neutralise free radicals, which are implicated in the cause of cellulite and improve micro-circulation,' says Dr Dancey. 'Essential fatty acids, like Omega 3 and 6, are also anti-inflamatory and reduce cells sticking together.'

She advises lots of coloured fruit and vegetables, especially broccoli and blueberries, along with fish oil in your diet, while steering clear of junk food and artificial sweeteners.

8. Liposuction is the only answer

Not so. Even if you can afford the £3000 price tag, it's your last port of call for shifting areas of stubborn fat deposits and it may not even remove that cottage cheese-like cellulite. In fact, it's a traumatic procedure that could impair your circulatory and lymphatic system, and has left many women with fewer inches but more lumps and bumps than before.

There's a new product on the market which is catching beauty editors’ attention and could be the perfect alternative to surgery: Cavislim (£759, John Lewis). It’s a ‘home cavitation’ product which uses ultrasound technology to break up fat deposits. Sounds scary, but apparently it’s totally safe and pain-free and you should notice the difference in weeks. Sounds rather more appealing than going under the knife, don't you think?

Lifestyle, diet, exercise, body brushing and massage with contouring products that contain marine extracts, caffeine or juniper oil take priority on your anti-cellulite list.

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