Is there a cure for cellulite?

Monday, October 30, 2006
Ah, it's that time of year isn't it? Summer's on the way that means there's one place to be — the beach.

But if there's one thing that strikes fear into the hearts of women around the world, it's baring almost everything in a swimsuit. That's right, you know what I'm talking about — cellulite.

So where does the dreaded cellulite come from, and more importantly, can we get rid of it?

Toni Cleaver could never be described as self-conscious: "I do fat-o-grams, it's more of a comical strip, give you a laugh … make your day special."

Like all of us, Toni wants to look her best, so cellulite is not a welcome part of her act — she'd love a cure. Her and the other 90 percent of women who have it.

Our reporter Leila McKinnon is going to the exclusive La Jolla Spa in La Jolla California to meet a man who knows everything there is to know about cellulite, including how to get rid of it — now that is a big call.

Dr Mitchel P Goldman spends his life looking for cellulite.

"Cellulite is basically a way to store fat and you can think of it as a honeycomb, you have these little globules of fat stored in panels," he says.

And when there's too much of that fat … hey presto, the orange peel appearance of cellulite.

Leila: "Is it hereditary?"
Dr Goldman: "Cellulite isn't really hereditary, it's just women, and women have to store fat to give them enough calories to get them through pregnancy and breastfeeding."

So cellulite goes with the gender. But Dr Goldman says there are effective treatments. Among them, a natural therapy using coffee and seaweed.

"You know, coffee and seaweed actually will promote the absorption of fat in your body, but instead of paying for expensive seaweed and coffee, it's better to go out and, for a few dollars, buy a properly compounded cream to put on instead," says Dr Goldman.

The test

For our first of two tests, Toni's going to do just that. For the next three weeks, she'll use a popular cream with a caffeine-like ingredient.

Our second test subject is living proof that cellulite affects everyone: "I'm very active, I train with a trainer three times a week, I train with a Pilates instructor at least one day a week … and I eat a very healthy diet, so I've definitely taken all the precautions," says Jamie Lynn Sigler, who is fit, slim, watches what she eats — and still has cellulite.

Where are her problem areas?

"On the backs of my legs and on my backside — it's just something that runs in my family."

Jamie's fiancé Jake recently popped the question on a surprise trip to Venice. She wants to look her best for the wedding, and is hoping Dr Goldman can help.

"What we're going to recommend today is a series of treatments with two different types of machines. One of these is called the Tri-Active and the other the Velasmooth and both of these machines, when you use them about a dozen times, will definitely improve the appearance of cellulite," says Dr Goldman.

A lot of women would be happy with Jamie's level of cellulite, but she's masked it well with a spray-on tan and her health regime.

"It's going take four to six treatments … to start to see a difference," says Dr Goldman.

The Tri-Active uses suction massage to increase lymphatic drainage. This helps to filter fluid from the skin cells. The low intensity heat stimulates collagen production and tightens the skin. It costs around $1200 for eight sessions, but the bad news is, we haven't found one in Australia, so that's US dollars plus your airfare over.

Jamie's also having sessions with a Velasmooth machine, which is available here.

The Velasmooth combines radio frequency with infra-red light to soften the fat, and suction to stretch out the fibrous strands that cause the dimpling. Velasmooth sessions will set you back $150 a pop.

During the month of testing, Jamie has also added in a gadget to use at home, it's called a well box.

"In order for Jamie to get an even better result, we've offered her two products to take home. One is the well box, which is a mechanical device that speeds up blood and lymphatic flow to basically help the fat dissolve," says Dr Goldman.


Okay, it's been a month … results time. Has Toni noticed a change?

"I wasn't sure about the creams when I first started, but I think I would recommend it to people and I would do it again, because it does seem to work," she says.

Our before and after shots do seem to show a difference.

And as for Jamie's no expense spared approach: "I've definitely seen some results since I've been using the home treatment.

So two happy customers — both women feel they look better, and when it comes to cellulite, that's as much as you can hope for.


"There is no 100 percent cure — the only thing we can do is improve the appearance, but with mechanical therapy, with the use of the creams and the at-home well box we can really decrease the appearance by 60 to 80 percent," says Dr Goldman.

Of course, the less body fat you have the less cellulite you'll have, so cut back on the fatty food, eat more fruit and vegies, drink plenty of water and exercise regularly and you'll see an improvement too.

At the end of the day, you've got to remember that nine out of 10 women are sufferers, so you're not alone. And in the scheme of things, it's not all that bad a thing to have.

Fast facts

  • Jamie's spray tan masked the appearance of her cellulite, but does that mean sun exposure can help? Afraid not. In fact, the sun causes collagen in the skin to stretch and change, which can actually magnify the look of cellulite.

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