Cellulite - fact or fiction?

Cellulite, you either have it or you don't. There seems to be no in between. From what I can gather most of the advertising about this interesting body tissue have got us tricked. Cellulite isn't anything special; it's just plain fat. Which means all the remedies in the world are going to be relatively useless. The only thing that helps in the removal of fat is exercise and a healthy diet.

So what are the dimples all about?

It's what covers the fat on our bodies, which gives it that dimpled look in certain areas. Covering fat is a net of fibrous, elastic, connective tissue, which when pressure is placed upon it, gives a lattice effect as the fat pushes through these tiny holes. As you age, and/or gain weight this net of tissue relaxes and is not as tight as it was originally, causing the fat to literally push through, resulting in what much of our society perceives as an ugly dimpled look - cellulite.

How can do you get rid of it?

There is no one treatment that can completely rid that dimpled look. Liposuction is one quick treatment in the removal of fat. It physically sucks fat from the body. However the results can often be disappointing if you wish to achieve a smooth look, as sucking the fat off must be done in an even manner, which is hard to attain. Although this method removes fat, the appearance of your skin can look uneven. And if you don't incorporate diet and exercise into your weekly routine after the procedure, the remaining fat cells will increase in size if you don't change your original lifestyle, and you will be back to where you started.

Cellulite creams have been found to have minimal effects, but apparently they do work a little. Some beauty salons offer seaweed treatments. Apparently they have a slight effect in the short term. But this is mostly because it removes water from the skin, and therefore dehydrates your skin. And because there is less water in your outer layers of tissue there is less pressure, and the dimpled look is reduced. This treatment will only last as long as your skin is dehydrated (which isn't long).

Basically any quick fix is almost guaranteed to be unhealthy. So it's back to a healthy diet, and regular aerobic exercise (minimum of 20 minutes of exercising your whole body - walking is the most simple). Aerobic exercise is the most efficient way of burning fat. Unless you lose this fat, spot toning (just working one area of your body) isn't very effective. Spot toning will build up the muscles under the layer of fat. But fat and muscle are two completely different tissues. You can't turn fat into muscle, or vice versa. Only by aerobic exercise will you burn off the fat, and then you will discover the beautiful muscles underneath. If you are overweight, you are likely to have strong muscles, unfortunately you just can't see them yet, but don't despair, you can find them, it just takes a little work and commitment.

Besides a healthy diet and regular exercise, massage can be good to increase circulation. Fat cells have a poor blood supply; so after exercising, take 10 minutes to massage the areas you have unwanted fat. It won't take the fat away, but it will increase blood supply to the area you are massaging. And if you increase the blood flow, you increase the transport of toxins out of that area, so it can't be anything but good for you. Use a cream, containing vitamin A and E, as it will keep you skin smooth and healthy.

- Louise Ganey (RN)