The New Skinny on Cellulite

Dream creams for firmer skin
Plenty of creams promise to cure cellulite. But the only ones with years of clinical data behind them are those containing retinoids, vitamin-A derivatives proven to boost collagen production. You can find retinoids in over-the-counter body lotions (listed on the label as “retinol”), but the most potent are the prescription versions sold under brand names like Renova and Retin-A. “Retinoids create a firmer, thicker skin cover that can help camouflage cellulite,” says Paul T. Rose, MD, who served until recently as professor of clinical dermatology at the University of South Florida.

Newsier, but not-so-proven, are fat-busting creams with ingredients like caffeine, black tea, and theophylline (a form of caffeine). The theory is that these stimulants work to reduce thigh circumference by breaking down fat-cell stores more rapidly.

The process: No matter which formula you use, youll need a good dose of patience. “Cellulite creams should be applied daily for about 8 weeks in order to see results,” Goldman says.

The proof: A study in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology reported that testers who used retinol creams for 6 months saw an improvement in skin firmness—from 11 to 15 percent on average. Early research on fat-burners looks encouraging, too. In a recent Goldman study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, some 76 percent of those using a fat-burning cream (containing caffeine and green tea) lost an average of 1⁄2 inch in their thigh circumference.

The payout: From $12 for drugstore brands to more than $60 for department-store or spa versions (you tend to get a higher percentage of active ingredients in pricier lines). Among your best over-the-counter options: Neutrogenas Anti-Cellulite Treatment, LOreals Sublime Slim Anti-Cellulite + Skin Sculpting Body Firming Gel, Shiseidos Body Creator Aromatic Firming Cream, and Avons Cellu-Sculpt Anti-Cellulite Slimming Treatment.

Devices that roll away ripples
It was big news in the mid-1990s when Endermologie became the first FDA-approved method for the reduction of cellulite. Its now one of the top cellulite procedures at doctors offices and spas.

The process: During any Endermologie session, you squeeze yourself into a skintight nylon/spandex bodysuit. Then a technician runs a device (basically, a vacuuming head surrounded by rollers) over your trouble spots—suctioning, pulling, and squeezing them for 20 to 30 minutes. The newer machines use less suction power and smaller, independently moving rollers, making for a session thats less like torture and more like a massage. Youll get some swelling and redness with either method, but the newer one tends to work much faster—in 10 rather than 14 to 20 visits (doctors usually recommend two treatments per week).

The proof: Endermologie originally received FDA clearance after a clinical study found it to be both safe and effective. “We checked the subjects at 10 and 20 weeks,” says study co-author Lillian Nanney, PhD, director of plastic surgery at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “And we found that while their fat did not disappear, the connective tissue in the treated area became thicker, giving the appearance of firmer skin. These results improved with each new treatment.”

The payout: Endermologie can get pricey, running between $80 and $150 per session. Go to to find a doctor near you.
  • Page:
  • 1
  • 2
  • next