Main menu Open search menu

How to Get Rid of Cellulite: Breaking Down Your Treatment Options

BY: Editors | Jan 23, 2019

woman examining her thighs for cellulite

There's no evidence cellulite is unhealthy or bad for you. It's just one of the ways the body naturally stores fat. However, if you want to know how to get rid of cellulite, we've created a guide to the vast array of noninvasive treatments that may help you smooth it out.

First things first, can you get rid of cellulite?

It's not exactly possible to make cellulite disappear entirely, but you can reduce its appearance. That's because cellulite is a skin condition caused by the way the body stores subcutaneous fat—or the topmost layer of fat—particularly in areas like the thighs and buttocks. (It also tends to affect women far more than men—see a full explanation behind the mechanics of cellulite.)

If you're bothered by cellulite, though, you have a few options. Click below to learn more about how—and IF—these treatments work:

Doctor & MedSpa Cellulite Procedures

1. Cellfina

  • What is it? A minimally invasive treatment with incisions that cuts the fibrous cords creating cellulite under the skin
  • Does it work on cellulite? Yes
  • How long does it last? It’s FDA-cleared to improve the appearance of cellulite for at least three years

According to the manufacturer, the minimally invasive Cellfina cellulite treatment improves the appearance of cellulite by actually cutting the fibrous cords woven throughout fat in the thighs and buttocks. These tight cords pull down the skin, which pushes up the fat cells and causes the “orange peel” dimpling effect. By cutting the cords, the skin releases and thighs and buttocks look smoother.

The treatment is performed in a doctor’s office. It uses a local numbing agent and a minimally invasive, small needle-sized device to cut the cords just beneath the surface of the skin.

2. Cellulaze

  • What is it? A minimally invasive laser-probe treatment with incisions that uses a laser to heat the tissue below the surface and target the fibrous cords causing cellulite 
  • Does it work on cellulite? Yes
  • How long does it last? About a year, possibly longer with diet and exercise 

According to the manufacturer, Cellulaze lasers heat up the tissue below the skin's surface, which releases the fibrous cords creating cellulite. During the treatment, a small cannula—a tube about the size of the tip of a pen—is inserted under the skin through an incision. In addition to releasing the cords pulling the skin down, the laser liquifies fat, which is pressed out. The laser also can increase the thickness of the skin and stimulate collagen production to help create a smoother look. 

The treatment, performed in a doctor's office, takes about 1–1.5 hours and requires a local anesthetic. Bruising and discomfort is a possible side effect, and recovery lasts a day or two. Results should continue to improve for the next 3–12 months.

3. Radio Frequency

  • What is it? Radio frequency waves heat tissue and promote collagen production to smooth and tighten skin.
  • Does it work on cellulite? Yes—but with mixed results and not for very long
  • How long does it last? A few months to a year, depending on the treatment and the client

Thermage

Thermage is one of the most well-known radio frequency treatments. It is primarily used to tighten loose skin and smooth wrinkles, but according to the manufacturer, it can also be used to temporarily improve the appearance of cellulite by boosting collagen production. Results can last up to a year.

Venus Treatments 

Venus Concepts has two treatments designed to fight cellulite: Venus Versa and Venus Legacy. According to the manufacturer, these treatments use a combo of radio frequency and pulsed electro magnetic fields to help break down the fat under skin, as well as boost collagen production. This results in smoother, tighter skin and a reduction in the appearance of cellulite. Results last about 3–4 months. 

VelaShape

VelaShape is FDA-cleared to temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite. It uses a combination of radio frequency waves, infrared light, and vacuum suction to increase collagen production and thus help smooth cellulite, according to the manufacturer. Results typically last for a few months.

The ideal VelaShape cellulite patient is either a Stage 1 or Stage 2 on the Nurnberger-Muller Cellulite Classification Scale.

Nurnberger-Muller Cellulite Classification Scale

Description

Good VelaShape Candidate?

Stage 1

Patient experiences no “orange peel” dimpling while standing or lying down, but does experience it when their skin is pinched together

Yes

Stage 2

Patient experiences  “orange peel” dimpling when standing up, but not when lying down

Yes

Stage 3

Patient experiences “orange peel” dimpling when standing up AND when lying down

No

 


Learn more

Velashape-treatment What Is VelaShape, and How Does It Work?

VelaShape not only can soften the appearance of cellulite, but also can slim down bodies. Here's how it works.

 

4. Endermologie

  • What is it? A French treatment that uses a handheld machine that suctions and massages the skin in an attempt to soften fat and promote lymphatic drainage. It requires the client to wear a special bodysuit.
  • Does it work on cellulite? Possibly, it seems to depend on the person. Plus, it does take repeated treatments—at least 3 and upward of 10.
  • How long does it last? According to the Mayo Clinic, results are short-lived.

Endermologie is an FDA-approved massage system that studies have shown can help reduce body circumference. According to the manufacturer, 67% of people saw cellulite reduction after three sessions.

Yet according to an article published in the International Journal of Dermatology, 15 endermologie sessions improved the appearance of cellulite in only 15% of women (5 women out of 31 studied). Reviews are more favorable on Real Self, an online community for reviewing cosmetic treatments, with 65% of people saying the treatment is “worth it” (39 out of 60 reviews).

Bottom line? It may work for you, but you won’t know until you try it.

endermologie treatment for cellulite Endermologie is a French cellulite treatment that suctions and massages the skin to help reduce the appearance of cellulite. It requires a special bodysuit.

 

5. Noninvasive Laser Lipo

  • What is it? A treatment that breaks down the walls of fat cells in order to drain them of their contents. The fat cells then shrink.
  • Does it work on cellulite? No, it’s more for body contouring

Previously, it was thought that shrinking fat cells with laser light would help smooth cellulite. After all, it seems that if you shrink fat cells, you would be able to make the dimples less apparent by removing the bulk that’s pushing outward into the skin.

However, the manufacturers of devices like i-Lipo and Zerona have stopped promising cellulite reduction because it just doesn’t seem to make a difference. i-Lipo does have a device, the i-Lipo Ultra, that the manufacturers say can help reduce the appearance of cellulite. It combines laser energy with vacuum massage and skin-tightening infrared technology.


Learn more

zerona What Is Zerona and How Does It Work?

Zerona may not work on cellulite, but it still can shrink fat cells using laser energy. Check it out if you’re interested in losing inches from areas such as your waist and thighs.

6. CoolSculpting

  • What is it? A treatment that freezes fat cells until they crystallize and die
  • Does it work on cellulite? Probably not, though it is a nonsurgical fat-reduction treatment

Like laser lipo, CoolSculpting was once thought to help reduce the appearance of cellulite because of the way it eliminates fat underneath the skin. However, though it can help you lose inches, it is not marketed as a cellulite treatment by the manufacturers and most likely won’t make a difference in your dimples.


Learn more

zeltiq How CoolSculpting Freezes Fat Away

CoolSculpting relies on freezing temperatures to kill fat cells and slim the body. Here's how the procedure works.

Spa Services for Cellulite

Body Wrap

  • What is it? A combination of skincare products (usually moisturizing and skin-tightening products) and a thermal blanket
  • Does it work on cellulite? No, though skin may look more plumped up and smoother for a few hours, making them a good option before a special event

Most body wraps follow roughly the same protocol: the spa attendant first administers a body scrub and then applies the wrap's primary ingredient, typically a moisturizing agent. The next step is to swaddle the client in a thermal blanket and leave them to relax for roughly half an hour.

Wraps tend to vary from spa to spa, but common ingredients include seaweed and caffeine to temporarily plump up and tighten skin.

How to get rid of cellulite at home

Diet and Exercise

It’s not super sexy, but according to the Mayo Clinic, weight loss through exercise and healthy eating may improve the appearance of dimpled skin. It also may help prevent cellulite from forming by eliminating body fat. However, weight loss and exercise won’t get rid of cellulite completely.

Cellulite Creams

Though cellulite creams won’t get rid of cellulite, they may improve the appearance of cellulite. For instance, according to the Mayo Clinic, a twice-daily application of a 0.30% retinol cream has been shown to improve the appearance of cellulite after six months of use.

These creams won’t get rid of cellulite but can thicken up skin to help camouflage the dimples.


Sources

Information provided by the manufacturers of Cellfina, Cellulaze, Venus Treatments, Thermage, VelaShape, Endermologie, i-Lipo, Zerona, and CoolSculpting, as well as the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, RealSelf, and the Mayo Clinic.

cosmetic procedures banner

Related Reads

older black woman smilingA Complete Guide to Retinoids, the Holy Grail of Anti-Aging Skincare

Confused about retinoids? Here's what you need to know, including the difference between retinoid and retinol.
woman in short shorts kicking waterWhat It's Like to Get a Varicose Vein Treatment

Do you have ropy, lumpy varicose veins? Here's what it's like to treat them.
Sclerotherapy reviewWhat Veins? My Spider Vein Treatment Review

Our editor got sclerotherapy. See how it went!
woman getting microneedlingWhat Is Microneedling?

Learn all about the minimally invasive procedure that can treat everything from acne scars to wrinkles.
older asian woman thinking about injectablesWhat Injectable Is Right for Me?

Find out if you need Botox or Dysport, Restylane or Juvéderm.