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Cellulite is a common enemy for women. Is there anything to do about this unwanted appearance of fat? Unfortunately, not much, says Stan Kusch, M.D., a dermatologist on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano.
“Cellulite is normal among all post-adolescent females,” he says. “This is due to a normal estrogen stimulus that stores fat in the hips, buttocks and thighs to prepare the body for childbirth and lactation.”
Here are a few things Dr. Kusch suggests keeping in mind.
Understand skin’s texture. Cellulite, he explains, is found under a woman’s dermis, which is the layer of skin between the fat and the outer layer of skin. “A woman’s layer of dermis is a little bit thinner and is constructed differently than a man’s,” he says. “Because the dermal tissue is less strong, cellulite is much more common in women.”
Know the role of diet and exercise. Maintaining a normal body weight can help, Dr. Kusch says. “The more you weigh and the larger your fat cells are, the more pressure there is on the dermis,” he says.
But losing weight is not a guaranteed solution. “A lot of thin people have cellulite,” he says. “It’s really an anatomical problem governed by your gender and estrogen.”
Watch out for false claims. Some proposed treatments include infrared and radiofrequency lasers based on the theory that heating the dermis can stimulate collagen production and thicken the dermis. Topical creams are also on the market.
“There are absolutely no independent studies in peer-reviewed journals that show that any treatment works,” Dr. Kusch says. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there.”
Watch out for studies that are administered by companies standing to gain from sales, he says.
But don’t give up hope, he adds. There are treatments combining laser therapy and liposuction currently being studied that show some early promise. Until then, be wary of manufacturers’ lofty promises.
The first step to reducing cellulite is to reduce body fat. Check out Baylor Plano’s body mass index (BMI) calculator here.
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