Cellulite treatment

March 22, 2017


Cellulite treatment

Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.

Related Terms

  • Bio-Dermology™ cellulite system, cellulite, dermatology, dimpling, endermology, heat treatment, hydrotherapy, liposuction, lymphatic drainage massage, massage, mesotherapy, micro massage, patch contour, triactive laser, vibrating belt machine, water treatment.


  • Cellulite treatments aim to reduce the amount or appearance of cellulite, a type of fat that is more visible on the surface of the skin than other types of fat in the body. Cellulite occurs around areas of the body that serve as the body's fat reserves; the most common areas among these are the hips, thighs, and buttocks. Because it is close to the surface of the skin, cellulite creates a dimpled appearance in those areas of the body. Cellulite forms when the connective tissue, called septa, which anchors the fat tissue just beneath the skin to deep muscles, changes its positioning between layers of various tissues. The septa may stretch, break down, or pull tight, and the fat may squeeze close to the surface of the skin; the result is cellulite.

  • In the past half century, the market has flooded with a variety of treatments for cellulite. Most of them, however, have proven as ineffective as the famous vibrating belt machines of the 1960s. Nevertheless, consumers continue to purchase products claiming to reduce cellulite.

  • The formation of cellulite is not a symptom of any disease. The appearance of cellulite typically does not affect the body's functioning. Any person, regardless of lifestyle, body size, or age, may develop cellulite and most adults have some cellulite. Cosmetic concerns are the primary reason why an individual might purchase a product or consult a doctor about cellulite.

  • Today, individuals with cosmetic concerns about cellulite may choose a number of treatments, from over the counter crèmes to surgery.


  • To prevent cellulite, a healthy and balanced diet and regular exercise is recommended. Thousands of over the counter potions, creams, and pills to combat cellulite have flooded the market with no well-documented research to support their claims. Creams available over the counter typically claim that daily use for a period of at least four weeks produces visible results. Creams are generally applied once or twice daily and on average cost between $10 and $50.

  • Bio-Dermology™ cellulite system: This treatment is usually performed in a spa, with a cost of about $110 to $180 per treatment. Each treatment session lasts about 45 minutes, and is performed on a massage table by a trained spa employee. The cellulite area is suctioned with a specialized machine.

  • Endermology: This procedure involves a deep massage of the affected areas. It uses rollers and gentle suctioning while the patient lies on a massage table. The time investment ranges from 14 to 21 one-hour sessions. The cost ranges from $85 to $125 a session. The effects are claimed to last one month plus and require monthly maintenance.

  • Heat and water treatments: The client spends at least an hour in a well-heated area, such as a sauna or whirlpool. This form of cellulite reduction does not require any specialized equipment.

  • Lymphatic drainage massage: A massage session is generally an hour in length, and usually ranges from $75 to $300 an hour. Clients are usually asked to remove as much clothing as they are comfortable, and lie down on a massage table. This type of massage is very gentle. Unlike other massages, the massage therapist focuses only on areas of cellulite.

  • Mesotherapy: Mesotherapy involves the injection of a variety of substances into the cellulite area. The individual who injects the medications is a trained professional. The average patient requires 10 to 15 treatments to achieve results. Mesotherapy treatments cost from $350-$450 per area per treatment, not including $225 for initial consultation and examination.

  • Micro massaging: This cellulite reduction technique involves wearing clothing, usually shorts or panty hose, made of specialized material. An article of clothing containing micro massaging properties may cost from between $40 and $120. Results are supposedly obtained after eight hours of daily use for several weeks.

  • Patch contour: These patches are applied over areas of cellulite and worn continuously for as long as possible (usually at least a week). A package of these patches typically costs $110 for 30 patches.

  • Triactive laser: Treatment with the triactive laser costs about $150 per treatment, which occurs in a salon. Between 10 and 15 treatments are typically recommended for best results. Patients may experience an uncomfortable burning sensation during the treatment.


  • Cellulite therapies are thought to work by strengthening blood vessels/increasing blood flow, encouraging the production of connective tissue, stimulating the production of collagen and elastin, attracting water to the cells, repairing cell membranes, reducing wasted water, preventing free-radical damage, reducing inflammation and/or promoting exfoliation (removal of dead skin cells).

  • Although many dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons recognize cellulite as a legitimate problem that patients seek to have them "cure", most of the medical community does not view cellulite as a disorder, but as a normal condition of many women, and some men. The best way to avoid cellulite may be to take preventative measures: eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber, stay hydrated with plenty of fluids, exercise regularly to keep muscles toned and bones strong maintain a healthy weight.

  • Holistic as well as conventional medical investigations into cellulite prevention, reduction, and elimination are a popular, if possibly lucrative, subject of research. However, no viable prospects for long-term solutions are currently pending.

  • Bio-Dermology™ cellulite system: This system performs a vacuum massage. The gentle rolling and lifting action of the hand piece aims to loosen or break down displaced fat and disperse the lumps of fat into a smooth layer. This handheld massage device also encourages lymphatic drainage to further release built-up toxins.

  • Endotherapy: This results in the lifting of skin and the mobilizing of deep tissue. The rollers provide deep massage to the fibrous connective tissue and fat. Together, these actions are thought to loosen the trapped and compressed fat, easing blood circulation as a result.

  • Heat and water treatments: These treatments, which include hydrotherapy, saunas, and steam baths, help to increase circulation, and theoretically bring toxins closer to the surface of the skin. The release of toxins, in turn, is said to reduce the pressure on the lymph system. The principle involved in hydrotherapy is similar. Baths, showers, and hydro massage treatments encourage weight loss, increase circulation and boost lymph flow. All this is thought to impede the formation of cellulite.

  • Lymphatic drainage massage: This modality increases the functioning of the lymphatic system, and helps to remove and filter waste, toxins, and excess fluids from the body. The drainage of these fluids from the cellulite area supposedly reduces the bulging appearance of cellulite. Good lymph fluid circulation is thought to prevent the fluid from solidifying and binding with collagen fibers of the fat cells.

  • Mesotherapy: Mesotherapy is a form of cellulite treatment that involves injections of traditional medications, homeopathic medication, and vitamins into the mesoderm (middle) layer of skin affected by cellulite. Proponents claim that these medications stimulate the body to heal itself in affected areas. These injections focus treatment on affected areas in order to maximize the effects of the injections.

  • Micro massaging: The material in micro massaging clothing is rendered possible by cellulite hosiery. A layer of warmth containing silicone or latex prevents heat from escaping around the cellulite area; this localized warmth supposedly increases blood circulation, which in turn reduces cellulite. The pants fit tightly, to supposedly apply pressure on bulging areas.

  • Tri-active laser: Tri-active laser dermatology uses, as the name suggests, a laser on areas of cellulite. The manufacturer claims that the laser penetrates superficial areas of skin in order to attack cellulite at the source and change the cell structure. The suction action of this device increases lymphatic drainage to filter away fluid buildup. The heat released by the laser tightens external skin and softens the connective tissues that cause cellulite to bulge. The laser is also said to reduce the size of fat cells.

  • Patch contour: This therapy involves the application of patches to areas of cellulite. The inner layer of the patch delivers rhodysterol and bladderwrack to the skin. These medications supposedly stimulate cellular activity in a way that breaks down fat. The outer layer of the patches is made of silicone or latex. These materials contain heat in the area in order to improve blood circulation.


  • Topical creams may result in contact dermatitis (swelling) or allergic reactions.

  • Treatments with lasers and other devices are sometimes painful, need to be repeated periodically, and must be done by a physician. Some of the technologies for cellulite treatment are FDA (Food and Drug Administration)-approved, but others are being used not for the purpose for which they are approved. Moreover, some are still being tested and have not yet been submitted for FDA approval.

  • A doctor should be consulted before any treatment and for further information on possible risks and side effects that vary among individuals.

  • Individuals should be aware that the FDA has taken vigorous action to stop businesses, manufacturers, and spa websites from advertising cellulite treatments as a "medical device . . . that will affect the structure or function of the body." However, many businesses, manufactures, and spa websites continue to make these claims. Consumers should be aware that there is no well-documented effective treatment for cellulite.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a professional level monograph edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).


Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 15 May 2006. www.plasticsurgery.org

  2. Cosmetic Surgery.com. 30 May 2006. www.cosmeticsurgery.com

  3. Drake, L. The cellulite cure? Prevention.com. 15 June 2006. www.prevention.com

  4. Food and Drug Administration. 15 June 2006. www.fda.gov

  5. Mesotherapy & Estetiki. Mesotherapy.com. 12 June 2006. www.mesotherapy.com

Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.


March 22, 2017