Open just about any women’s magazine and you’ll find ads for anti-cellulite creams that promise to reduce the spongy, dimply, cottage cheese-looking skin that causes distress to so many women.
The products tout caffeine, retinol and the antioxidant DMAE as the special ingredients that help reduce the appearance of cellulite, which first surfaces on the hips, thighs and buttocks of millions of women during adolescence. Though excess weight and a lack of exercise can contribute to the problem, even thin women grapple with it.
According to a study by Neutrogena, 70 percent of women have cellulite. More women have it than men, because women have thinner skin, so it shows more clearly.
Wrestling With Cellulite
Over the years, Vivian Carlson has done everything to stay in shape: she runs, goes to the gym and eats healthily, but has had no luck in getting rid of her cellulite. At one point, she even took a dust buster to her inner thigh, hoping to suck the dimply skin away.
Retinol is supposed to work by being able to penetrate the skin, exfoliate it, and increase collagen production, which makes skin thicker and hides the dimpling fat. But the question is how much is needed in the products to achieve the effects, because too much can dry out the skin and cause it to redden and peel, Wells said.
Other creams boast the ingredient dimethylaminoethanol or DMAE, an antioxidant derived from fish that when combined with amino acids supposedly stimulates the muscles to contract and become firmer.
Contrary to what patients have heard or read, cellulite is not the result of toxins, poor circulation or clogged lymphatics, she said. In fact, one study that compared cellulite fat to other fat found no biochemical differences. If patients really want to try something to get rid of cellulite — beyond diet and exercise — they can try the creams, but she suggests buying the inexpensive variety, and giving it eight weeks to work.
One doctor said that he has heard anecdotally from his patients that the creams help eliminate the appearance of cellulite, but there is no medical proof to back it up.