Cellulite develops when fat cells under the skin become larger, pushing up against the skin. At the same time, connective cords attaching the skin to muscle tissue pull down.
Why this happens is unclear, although both hormones and genetics may play a part. Cellulite is also more common with age, as the skin becomes less elastic.
Part of the theory of cellulite massage is it increases circulation and encourages waste removal, leading to a reduction in the appearance of cellulite. Some sources believe the gentle strokes of lymphatic drainage can help reduce cellulite, while other sources advocate the use of deep, vigorous massage. The effectiveness of cellulite massage is controversial.
The Medical Perspective
Here's what the Mayo Clinic has to say about cellulite treatment:
Weight loss using a healthy diet and regular exercise probably has the most benefits. However, not everyone with cellulite needs to lose weight, and even with weight loss, the cellulite doesn't completely go away — it just becomes less noticeable.
Lasers and radiofrequency systems are a promising medical therapy. One ablative (wounding) approach slips a thin fiber under the skin to deliver laser heat that destroys the fibrous bands binding fat. This technique reduces the appearance of cellulite for six months to a year. Another device uses heat (radiofrequency) for nonablative treatment. All treatments require at least several sessions before you see a noticeable improvement. You usually need nonablative treatments more often than ablative treatments.
Cryolipolysis (CoolSculpting) uses a vacuum-suction device to reduce fat below the skin. You need multiple treatments over two to three months to see results.
Although liposuction removes fat cells, it may worsen the appearance of cellulite. However, newer laser-assisted liposuction may work better.
Some evidence indicates using a 0.3 percent retinol cream two times a day for six months improves the appearance of cellulite.
One technique to massage cellulite is Lipomassage from Endermologie. This technique kneads skin between rollers using a hand-held machine. Endermologie claims Lipomassage can get rid of exercise-and-diet-resistant fat permanently, and you will start seeing results after six 35-minute sessions. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, any slight improvement that you may see after Lipomassage is temporary.