Does Cellulite Cream Work?

Does Cellulite Cream Work?The term Cellulite was coined by the spa industry early in the 20th century and since that time, there’s been no shortage of beauty solutions purporting to get rid of this dimpling skin feature. One of the most frequently touted is cellulite cream1.

But does cellulite cream work? And is it worth the investment? Women have been asking themselves do cellulite creams work for as long as cellulite has been around. Fortunately, we’re able to offer a little insight and help you make better decisions about whether to invest in a cellulite cream.

What’s In Cellulite Cream, Anyway?

One only needs to visit the average drug store to discover an extensive number of cellulite creams on the market. There are a few differences here and there, but for the most part, they largely contain the following ingredients:

  • Caffeine: This coffee staple is not just for mental stimulation – it is probably the most common ingredient in several over-the-counter cellulite creams. Caffeine tightens the skin, improves blood flow to the skin and temporarily shrinks fat cells. The key word is temporary.
  • Retinoids: Perhaps best known as a treatment for acne, wrinkles and aging skin, retinoids are believed to be effective in reducing the appearance of cellulite as well. Their method of action is to thicken the top layer of skin over time, creating more surface tension that gives the skin a taut, smooth appearance.
  • Aminophylline: Traditionally, a drug used to treat asthma, when applied to the skin it is claimed to reduce fat cells.

What Do These Ingredients Do?

Does cellulite cream work? The answer isn’t always straight forward. In the case of creams containing caffeine or aminophylline, for instance, it’s not uncommon for people to begin seeing “results” right away. But appearances can be deceiving. These ingredients work by forcing the body to re-absorb extra water in the skin, drying it out in the process. This drying gives the appearance of smoother skin due to the dried skin being pulled tighter over the underlying fat deposits, thus masking the visibility of cellulite2.

This process is a bit like a sleight of hand. Sort of how diuretics cause weight loss by cutting down stores of water (not fat), these ingredients improve skin appearance the same way. Do these cellulite creams work? In a way – but patients may be trading one problem for another.

Retinoids seem to be the most effective of the three ingredients over the long term3. Thickening the skin does cause a smoother appearance, but the results may not be visible until years down the road.

Reducing Cellulite and Alternatives to Cellulite Creams

It’s pretty clear that cellulite creams either don’t work in the long run or take far too long to show their results. When people get fed up with the ineffectiveness of cellulite creams, they often look for alternatives such as exercise and nutrition. By shedding excess fat and toning the muscles (which subcutaneous fat rests on top of), a person can create healthy tension around the fat cells, decreasing the visual ripple effect of cellulite.

But as we’ve heard over and over again here at WIFH, often times exercise and weight loss alone won’t get rid of all of a person’s cellulite. So what’s left?

One of the most promising treatments is called Cellulaze – a one-time, laser assisted surgical procedure for the treatment of cellulite. What makes Cellulaze so unique is that it is the first cellulite therapy that works below the skin’s surface altering the structure of the cellulite.

During the Cellulaze procedure the skin tissue is being deeply heated, so much so that a false signal is registered in the brain and a healing response begins. The body is now overproducing collagen and elastin to make new skin and to thicken and tighten the thinned areas caused by the pushing and pulling of the cellulite. This process can take up to 12 months to complete, but patients don’t have to wait 12 months before seeing any change at all. In fact, most of our patients see a difference in as little as a month.

For patients looking to stop wasting money asking do cellulite creams work, schedule a complimentary consultation at WIFH to discuss if Cellulaze is a good option.

1. Sadick, N. (2018). Treatment for cellulite. International Journal Women’s Dermatology. 2018; 5: Pages 68-72.
2. Byun, SY. (2015). Efficacy of Slimming Cream Containing 3.5% Water-Soluble Caffeine and Xanthenes for the Treatment of Cellulite: Clinical Study and Literature Review. Annals of Dermatology. 2015; 27(3): Pages 243-249.
3. Yimam, M. (2018). A Randomized, Active Comparator-controlled Clinical Trial of a Topical Botanical Cream for Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Firmness, and Cellulite. Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 2018; 11(8): Pages 51-57.
About the Author

Paul Cox, MD, MS

Dr. Paul Cox MD, MS, is the Medical Director of WIFH. Board Certified in Family Medicine and a Fellow of the American Academy of Anti-Agency Medicine, Dr. Cox has been practicing as a physician for over 20 years.