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Over 90% of women have it, and everyone asks how to get rid of cellulite and the dimples that appear on areas like the upper thighs, buttocks, or abdomen. Cellulite is often a source of frustration for our patients, and is so common: it can occur in patients of any background, size, or age, particularly women. However, for many patients, the natural biological factors that lead to cellulite don’t seem to justify its presence on the thighs. The one question that everyone asks Dr. Green as their dermatologist, is what is the best cellulite treatment.

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Cellulite reduction treatment is one of the most popular procedures performed in the NYC office of Dr. Michele Green. Cellulite is caused when the underlying fat pockets herniate and bulge below the skin, leaving a lumpy and dimpled appearance. The prevalence of cellulite commonly increases with age, is associated with changes in hormones, and we wee the skin gradually decreasing in elasticity and firmness.

Dr. Green is an expert in treating cellulite and utilizes the best laser treatments, from radiofrequency based Thermage® to Velashape®, to improve the appearance of cellulite.  Dr. Green is frequently nominated as one of the Best Doctors in New York Magazine for her cutting edge laser treatments, dermal fillers, skin tightening lasers, and other non-invasive cosmetic skin treatments. She is now introducing the revolutionary QWO™ injectable treatment for cellulite into her New York City practice.

What is Cellulite?

Cellulite is an accumulation of fat beneath the skin which causes the appearance of rippling or lumpy skin mainly in the thighs and buttocks. Cellulite is formed when the septae also known as the fibrous bands, which is the connective tissue that connects the muscles to the skin, causes the fat to protrude resulting in a dimpling of the skin.

According to the AAD (American Academy of Dermatology), cellulite affects most adult women in the United States. Anyone can develop cellulite, though women are much more predisposed hormonally than men. Cellulite can be found on individuals of all sizes and, not solely in people those who are overweight. The appearance of cellulite, however, can vary depending on the thickness and elasticity of ones skin. Ultimately, the amount of cellulite an individual has is based not only on their percentage of body fat, but also on genetics.

Is Cellulite Fat?

Fat is one of the three major contributing factors of cellulite and, unfortunately, can lead to an increase in the appearance of cellulite. As cellulite is created by the tension between fibrous bands and fat cells across the surface of the skin, an excess or an increase in the amount of fat cells in the affected area can lead to further cellulite. However, the majority of women who have cellulite simply have more sizable fat cells under the surface of the skin due to higher estrogen levels. Estrogen’s effect on fat cells also seems to explain why cellulite is far more common amongst women than men.

What Causes Cellulite?

Fat cells are a contributing factor to the appearance of cellulite, but are not themselves the direct cause. A deeper layer of fat lies deep within the dermis, beneath the connective tissues. As the fat cells in that lower layer increase, they push against the honeycomb pattern of the connective tissue, creating the dimpled skin appearance of cellulite. In some areas they bulge and in others they are held in place by the tougher fibers above. This combination of fibers and fat is what leads to the dimpled appearance of cellulite.

How to Get Rid of Cellulite Overnight

Unfortunately for us, cellulite is a complex condition influenced by hormones, aging, and environmental stresses, which means that it is difficult to get rid of overnight. This makes cellulite challenging to treat successfully despite recent advances in lasers and other technology. It is typically determined by three biological factors: fibrous bands, skin laxity, and fat cells. As we age, the fibrous bands that connect our skin to muscle can thicken, leading to tension on the surface of the skin. These bands can create tension as fat cells press against them, which appears as dimples on the surface of the skin. Additionally, as we age, loose skin can exaggerate this appearance of dimpled skin.

In addition, the appearance of cellulite becomes more obvious with age.  As the skin loses its elasticity, collagen production slows and collagen levels are depleted. As the collagen fibers between the muscles and the skin separate, this causes a rippling or dimpling appearance on the skin.

Gr​​​​ades of cellulite

In the Journal of European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology published in 2009, doctors were able to establish a severity scale for accessing cellulite. The cellulite scale established three grades ranging from grade 1 to 3.

Grade 1 – (mild) superficial dimpling with an “orange peel” appearance and 1-4 slight depressions in the skin.

Grade 2 – (moderate) deeper rippling of the skin with a “cottage cheese”-like appearance and 5-9 medium depressions in the skin.

Grade 3 – (severe) deep rippling of the skin with a “mattress like” appearance and 10 or more deep depressions.

Hormonal factors

The presence of cellulite can also be attributed to hormones. The hormones which contribute to cellulite production are thyroid hormones, prolactin, noradrenaline, insulin and estrogen. Cellulite is also more prominent in menopausal women, as the shift in estrogen and collagen within the connective tissues can contribute to the appearance of cellulite.

How to Prevent Cellulite

Unfortunately, for most of us, cellulite cannot be prevented. It’s a natural part of the aging process for the majority of women, initially developing in adolescence for many. However, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine can help to limit the amount of cellulite on the body. Nevertheless, for the majority of patients, cellulite removal treatment is needed to make cellulite truly disappear.

Can you get rid of Cellulite?

If you have been wondering how to get rid of cellulite, you may have looked fleetingly for a magical treatment online. Up until recently, there were very few cellulite treatments that could truly get rid of cellulite on the skin. However, recent innovations have been able to temporarily reduce and remove the appearance of cellulite.

How to get rid of Cellulite: QWO

Recently, the world of dermatology has developed the first permanent solution to cellulite: QWO™ injectable treatment. QWO was FDA approved in July 2020 to permanently treat cellulite in the buttocks of women. It’s the first treatment that can confidently answer the question of how to get rid of cellulite, as cellulite reduction can appear after as little as one injection.

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48 year old female before and after photo (source: QWO-hcp.com)

How to get rid of cellulite on the thighs and on the bum

QWO injectable treatment for the removal of cellulite is revolutionary when it comes to treating cellulite on the buttocks and upper thighs, and Dr. Green is thrilled to offer this treatment to her patients beginning in NYC. QWO™, or collagenase clostridium histolyticum-aaes, was approved by the FDA in 2020, making it the first FDA-approved injectable cellulite treatment for the buttocks of adult women. QWO is able to quickly and permanently remove moderate to severe cellulite by targeting one of the primary biological factors of cellulite, the fibrous bands that connect the muscles to the skin. By reducing the thickness of these fibrous bands, the tension on the skin above it is relieved, eliminating the appearance of cellulite in the affected area. Through this method, QWO is able to reduce and remove cellulite without the need for any invasive procedures or downtime.

How to Reduce Cellulite

There are a variety of treatments that are designed to reduce or temporarily remove the appearance of cellulite from the treatment area. Dr. Green typically recommends treatments such as Thermage and CoolSculpting to reduce the appearance of cellulite or stubborn fat on a variety of areas of the body, and offers a variety of treatment options that all work to rejuvenate the skin and enhance body contouring. When you work with Dr. Green, she’ll be able to create a custom treatment plan that best fits your needs.

What are the Best Treatments for Cellulite?

There are several fat removal and skin tightening treatment options which are used for cellulite reduction and are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) without side effects. The best way to determine the correct treatment for you is through a consultation with Dr. Green. Below are popular treatments that all help to reduce or remove cellulite.

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How Thermage® FL​​​​X Helps

A single treatment of Thermage® FLX offers a noninvasive method to minimize the appearance of cellulite. Dr. Green is thrilled to offer this procedure at her Upper East Side New York City private office. Thermage® is considered the gold standard for reducing the appearance of cellulite and tightening the skin. This dual benefit is provided by the unique Thermage® radiofrequency technology.

With the newly designed total body tip, Thermage® FLX is able to penetrate deeper into the skin tissue in a painless and effective way to both tighten and smooth the skin. A single treatment can provide lasting benefits for up to two years. Thermage® FLX stimulates new collagen production by using radiofrequency energy that is designed to tighten skin, which in turn can rejuvenated the layers of the dermis, reducing the appearance of stretch marks and puckering as the new collagen rejuvenates the skin. The procedure takes approximately one hour and results are gradually seen over a period of two to four months. Thermage® can be done on all skin types and is not photosensitizing, so it can be done all year long.

How to Get Rid of Cellulite Fast

Thermage® is comfortable and effective treatment for all skin types, requiring no pre-treatment or downtime. Dr. Green recommends Thermage® to tighten loose skin around the arms, buttocks, thighs, and tummy and buttocks. Thermage® is also the ideal treatment for a “mommy makeover” – to rejuvenate your body after pregnancy. Regular annual treatments may be incorporated as part a proactive anti-aging routine to help keep you looking younger for longer. With the new Thermage® FLX, Dr. Green can provide even better results to treat cellulite in her private NYC office.

Coolsc​​​​ulpting®

CoolSculpting®, or cryolipolysis, is a revolutionary, extremely effective treatment method for freezing fat cells, and can improve the appearance of cellulite.  It’s an innovative option for patients who wonder how to get rid of cellulite on the stomach, as this is a common place for pockets of fat to accumulate under the surface of the skin.

How to Get Rid of Cellulite on the Stomach, Abdomen, and Back

CoolSculpting® is FDA cleared to treat the abdomen, arms, legs, banana roll, and inner and outer thighs which are the areas predominately affected by cellulite. CoolSculpting® works by non-invasively freezing the fat cells beneath the skin, rupturing the fat cells, and causing these cells to be metabolized and extcreted by the body. Multiple treatments may be required to achieve your desired results. Each treatment reduces a bulge of fat by 25%.  After three to four months from your initial treatment, you will see a noticeable reduction in fat. Dr. Michele Green was one of the first physicians in NYC to provide this revolutionary method of fat freezing to her patients.

Velashape®

Is a nonsurgical body contouring procedure which uses a handheld device to administer a treatment technology which combines cellulite reduction and body contouring. Velashape is a non-invasive treatment which uses heat, infrared light, radiofrequency and vacuum technology to manipulate the fibrous bands beneath the skin to improve the appearance of cellulite. This vacuum technology suction breaks up the lumpy pockets within the skin, while the  infrared light and bi-polar radio frequency energy gently heat the fat cells and surrounding tissue.

VelaShape® is done in 3-6 treatments, three weeks apart, to achieve circumferential reduction of cellulite in the treated areas. After Velashape treatment, the skin is visibly smoother and firmer, and results can be seen even after three sessions.  The best results are with a total of 5 to 6 Velashape sessions. Velasahpe® is completely painless, and feels like a hot stone massage. Each session takes less than an hour and can be done in any season and for all skin types. With the new Velashape® III, Dr. Green can give even faster and better results with fewer treatment sessions.

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Before & After: Velashape III treatment

Cellfina®

Cellfina® is an FDA cleared device which uses a subcision technique to improve the appearance of cellulite.  Cellfina® involves using a needle to break up the connective tissue beneath the skin, which causes the lumpy appearance in the skin’s surface. Cellfina® works by precisely treating these tethered bands which contribute to cellulite. Results can be seen in a few days and can last up to one year.

Carboxytherapy

Carboxytherapy procedure uses carbon dioxide which is injected into the subcutaneous tissue beneath the skin. The carbon dioxide increases the blood flow which helps to improve the appearance of cellulite. There is minimal discomfort and bruising at the injection site which dissipates within a few days.

Cell​​​​ulaze®

Cellulaze® is a laser treatment which breaks apart the fibrous bands under the skin which makes cellulite more noticeable. The laser fiber is inserted beneath the skin into the subcutaneous tissue in the skin. Through the heat of the laser energy, the fibrous bands are broken apart. This treatment also improves the thickness of the skin. A series of several treatments are needed to see optimal results. Results can last up to twelve months.

Does Liposuction Work to Remove Cellulite?

Liposuction is an invasive procedure for fat removal performed by plastic surgeons in an operating room. The procedure involves an injection of lidocaine as a local anesthetic and epinephrine to control bleeding prior the procedure, or patients can opt for general anesthesia. This plastic surgery procedure is performed using a metallic rod, known as a cannula, which allows for increased fat removal, improved sculpting, and a quicker recovery. It’s important to note that, while liposuction can effectively remove fat, it cannot improve the appearance of cellulite.

Liposuction can be used in conjunction with other treatments, such as radiofrequency energy, to help improve the appearance of cellulite.  The combination of treatments work together to improve the dimples in the skin. Most patients can return to work within 3 to 5 days following their liposuction procedure, and return to the gym and exercises within one week.

Me​​​​sotherapy

Mesotherapy, also referred to as liquid-lipo, uses a combination of proteins and enzymes which are injected into the skin. A meso device is utilized and injected into the subcutaneous tissue to break up the fat and aid in lymphatic drainage. The body metabolizes these fat cells and any excess fat is excreted from the body. Mesotherapy, in addition to a healthy diet and exercise, can help improve the appearance of cellulite.  Multiple treatments of mesotherapy are needed to help treat the area with cellulite. The procedure has minimal pain, but topical anesthesia can be applied to the area before treatment to minimize any discomfort. A common side effect is some swelling and soreness which can last for a few days after the treatment. You can resume normal activities immediately following Mesotherapy®.

Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion works best for patients with grade 1 cellulite. The treatment uses aluminum oxide crystals to exfoliate the skin. The stimulation and exfoliation of the treated area generates new skin cells and improves the appearance of the skin. Several treatments are needed to see results but it is generally not as effective as the newer laser technologies.

Endermologie

Endermologie uses a hand held device which delivers a deep tissue massage to break apart the dimples in the skin. The massagers tone and tighten the skin. Several sessions are needed to see results. You may experience slight bruising and muscle soreness in the treated area. The effects of the treatments can last up to a year.

Acoustic wave therapy

Acoustic wave therapy uses sound waves vibration to stimulate the connective tissues. The vibration improves circulation and stimulates collagen build up  improves the appearance of cellulite. Several treatments are needed in order to see results.

Do Cellulite Treatments Work?

For the majority of patients, in-office cellulite treatments such as Thermage and QWO are highly effectively at either temporarily or permanently removing cellulite, respectively. Though each patient is unique, there are several curated treatments that are designed to treat cellulite based on its foundational biological factors. Treatments like Thermage, QWO, Velashape and CoolSculpting are able to firm the skin, disrupt thickened fibrous bands, and reduce fat cells in the body, leading to healthy, cellulite-free skin.

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52 year old female before and after photo (source: QWO-hcp.com)

How Much is Cellulite Treatment?

The cost of cellulite treatment varies widely depending on the affected area that is being treated, the severity of the cellulite, and the aesthetic goals of the individual patient. Ultimately, Dr. Green always recommends the best possible treatment for her patients, focusing on long-lasting results that demonstrate dramatic improvement in the appearance of cellulite on the skin. When you work with Dr. Green, she’ll work with you to determine the treatment plan that best balances your goals and budget.

DIY Cellulite treatments to improve cellulite

If you’re wondering how to get rid of cellulite fast, you may be disappointed to learn that changes in lifestyle may have minimal effect on your cellulite. Plus, unfortunately, there is no miracle moisturizer or cream that will remove that dimpled skin. However, there are a few at-home changes in routine that may help to reduce cellulite. Nevertheless, the best way to remove cellulite is through in-office procedures.

Exercise

Exercise and a healthy diet can help shed extra pounds eliminating fat and improving cellulite. You should focus on exercises that target areas of the body which are prone to cellulite, such as the posterior thighs and buttocks. Exercise which tone muscles, including cardio and strength training which burn fat, will tighten the skin and help you reduce body fat.  A reduction in body fat, by overall weight loss, can improve the appearance of cellulite, though unfortunately this is not always the case.

Dry brushing

Dry brushing stimulates blood and lymph flow, removes dead skin cells, and stimulates new cell growth. Dry brushing is a form of Ayurvedic medicine that uses a dry bristled brush on dry skin. The dry brushing stimulates the circulation, stimulates blood flow, which in turn may improve the appearance of cellulite. This method is best for type 1 cellulite.

Which Topical Skincare Treatments are good for Cellulite?

There are topical cellulite creams and lotions which soften and tighten the skin to make the appearance of cellulite less visible. The success of these topical lotions depend on the severity of your cellulite.  For grades 2 and 3 cellulite, topical treatments will probably not be the solution.  These topical solutions may improve grade 1 cellulite by improving how the skin looks.  By decreasing the water content of the fat cells or thickening the outer layer of the skin, the appearance of superficial cellulite can be improved. Some of the better over the counter cellulite lotions contain caffeine, retinols, alpha hydroxy acids and aminophylline. Caffeine, commonly applied to the skin via coffee grounds, works by increasing the blood flow to the skin, which in turn changes the water content of the fat cells and softens the appearance of cellulite. Additionally, Retinol-based lotions work by generating new collagen in the skin, and improving the skin’s tone and texture.  Retinol comes in various strengths, and the highest strength available should yield the best cosmetic results.

If you’re frustrated with the appearance of your cellulite, there are real solutions that can help. Dr. Michele Green is an expert in cosmetic dermatology. For over two decades, Dr. Green has been practicing the best non-invasive body contouring and cosmetic laser treatments in NYC. If cellulite its an area of concern for you, Contact Us online or call 212-535-3088 to learn more about whether cellulite treatment options such as Thermage® and QWO may be right for you.

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