Big bottoms are beautiful—but cellulite? Not so much. We speak to two of Singapore’s experts about the dreaded, dimply C-word.
Cellulite: it’s a collective, niggling insecurity we all share, and one that’s driving an estimated $750-million-a-year ‘treatment’ industry worldwide. With that in mind, Cosmo spoke to two leading experts, Dr Calvin Chan and Dr Leslie Kuek, to set the record straight.
If you lose weight, cellulite will disappear.
Losing weight on its own isn’t a definitive cure. “When you lose weight, it reduces the pressure of fat pushing through the connective tissue and reduces fluid, which could improve the appearance of cellulite,” explains Dr Chan from his Aesthetic and Laser Clinic at Wheelock Place.
Fans of fad diets beware: “Losing weight and then gaining it back can make your fat cells expand and contract, making the appearance of cellulite worse. So anyone who’s attempting to treat cellulite should concentrate on healthy eating rather than dieting,” he adds.
Skinny people are immune.
If this were the case, Cameron Diaz wouldn’t have a hard time with the papparazzi snapping her when she goes to the beach. To put things simply, “Cellulite is caused by fat cells underneath the skin, which push through connective tissue creating a dimply, cottage-cheese effect,” Dr Chan says. “Susceptibility to cellulite depends on a few things, including your gender and genetics. Genetics determine the number of fat cells you’re born with, plus the thickness of your skin. In people with thicker skin, cellulite may be there but not immediately visible.
Women tend to suffer more for three reasons. In females, fibrous bands forming connective tissue under the skin are vertical, making cellulite pockets much more visible than for men, whose fibrous bands are laid down obliquely. Women also have thinner skin than men and suffer more from hormonal changes that trigger weight gain and loss, including going through pregnancy and menopause. Weight gain can definitely make cellulite more noticeable, but it does still happen to lean people.”
You can exercise it out.
Gym junkies, take note: exercise alone won’t work to banish cellulite. Experts recommend a balanced diet that’s high in calcium combined with high-impact exercise in order to help get the blood flowing and flush out toxins.
Eat clean and water fix it.
Eating well can help, but it’s not a magic cure. “Research suggests that calcium plays an important role in energy metabolism, and in the regulation of body composition, and that it may help reduce body fat,” explains Dr Kuek, of Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre. “A high calcium diet has also been associated with increased weight loss and a lower body mass index (BMI).”
Pricey treatments are a cure-all.
You can reduce cellulite, but banishing it all is not gonna happen—no matter how much moolah you spend. “Liposuction or techniques like ultrasound or laser-assisted lipo can remove fat cells and cut through fibrous bands in the hope of achieving a smoother appearance,” Dr Chan says. “But they’re invasive and you risk infection or scar tissue formation—which can cause uneven skin appearance—and changes in skin colour.”
Men do not get cellulite.
Guys can get dimply too, says Dr Kuek. “Around five per cent of men and 90 per cent of women suffer. Women naturally have more fat cells and thinner skin, so are more susceptible.” Vit C, copper, zinc, iron, manganese, and silicon strengthen collagen fibres, which prevents the bulging. So eat more nuts, meat, oats and kiwi.
Steer Clear Of…
SUGAR: This damages collagen and elastin fibres, making the skin thinner. Thin skin = more cellulite.
TOO MUCH DAIRY: Dairy products form mucus, so they can make the body’s lymphatic (waste removal) system more sluggish.
SUN DAMAGE: UV rays cause damage to tissue, collagen and elastin—which leads to cellulite. YO-YO
DIETING: Instead, aim for a healthy, kilojoule-controlled diet with plenty of greens, antioxidant-rich fruit, lean protein and omega-3 oils. This will keep fat in check and provide support to keep skin thick and supple.
By Julia Naughton. Extra reporting: Lucy Cleeve, Cosmopolitan, August 2015