We Ask a Derm: How Do You Get Rid of Cellulite?

It doesn’t matter your age or size or shape or skin tone; cellulite does not discriminate. And if you’ve ever wondered how to get rid of cellulite (sooo, that’s most of us, right?), you’ve come to the right place. We asked Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, for some answers.

Why does cellulite happen to good people? 

"Cellulite is caused by fat trapped just under the skin’s surface and that’s tethered in place by fibrous bands," explains Zeichner. "Unlike deep pockets of fat, which are responsive to exercise, even losing weight does not completely eliminate cellulite." (Sad trombone.)

Are you saying that it can’t be fixed?

"There are several in-office procedures that can significantly improve the appearance of cellulite but may not completely get rid of it," says Zeichner. Your main options are either to break apart those fibrous bands, so the fat is no longer stuck in one place, or reduce the amount of fat that’s under the skin.

Can you give me some examples of what to ask my derm?

Dr. Zeichner recommends asking about Cellfina, which uses needles to physically break apart those fibrous bands; Cellulaze, which is a laser that breaks apart fibrous bands, eliminates fat and thickens your skin; and fillers like Sculptra, which can be used to fill in dimples and camouflage cellulite.

OK, what about something that will help before the weekend?

Although there is no quick perma-fix for cellulite, there are things you can do to make it look better temporarily. Dr. Z’s (and our) go-to? Self-tanner, which creates the appearance of even-toned (and more toned) skin. We also like to use a bronzing body oil to smooth things over. (We’re currently loving Charlotte Tilbury’s Supermodel Body, which has a subtle shimmer that somehow makes everything look a little better.)

Another option? Try massaging a cream that contains caffeine over any lumpy areas. "Caffeine constricts blood vessels, which can help eliminate excess fluid," explains Dr. Zeichner. "It also belongs to a family of compounds known as methylxanthines, which help the body metabolize and break apart fat cells themselves." (You had us at caffeine, Dr. Z.)

Is there anything else we can do at home?

Yes, get thee some antioxidants and retinol. "The same ingredients you use on your face can help strengthen the skin on your legs. Antioxidants prevent free radical damage and promote healthy collagen production; retinol stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, which strengthen the skin's foundation. The stronger and more elastic your skin is, the less underlying fat will show through."

Some of our favorite antioxidants and retinols to slather on our limbs? Nécessaire The Body Lotion ($25); Paula’s Choice Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Treatment ($28);  One Love Organics Gardenia + Tea Antioxidant Body Serum ($39)

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Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...