Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Is an Alkaline Diet Good for Your Skin? June 7, 2012

I recently wrote a post that asked the question – is a vegan or vegetarian diet bad for your skin? – and concluded that no, neither of those diets are bad for your skin but sugar is.   Since I try to keep up with the latest information about all things skincare related I recently read an article in MedEsthetics magazine profiling dermatologist Jeanette Graf, MD.  In the article Dr. Graf talks about the skin benefits to following an alkaline diet:

Jeannette Graf, MD, is a well-known researcher and expert injector in the medical aesthetics arena, but more recently she has focused her career on creating great skin from the inside out.  Her theories are based on research that suggests that eating more alkaline-producing foods (versus acid-producing foods) offers optimal internal health, leading to glowing, healthy skin.  She recommends a 3:1 ratio of alkaline-producing foods to acid-producing foods when preparing meals.

Alkaline-Producing                                         Acid-Producing

Olive oil                                                                        Alcohol

Citrus fruits                                                                 Soft Drinks

Berries                                                                           Red Meat

Vegetables                                                                   Salmon

Sea Salts                                                                        White sugar

(page 49)

Furthermore, Dr. Graf explains how she became interested in the whole idea of an alkaline diet as a diet that would positively impact the skin (pages 49-50):

[Dr. Graf] came across a Noble Prize-winning study by Dr. Otto Warburg.  The study involved culturing cancer cells and normal cells in two different environments – one group he grew in a high oxygen, alkaline medium; the other he grew in a high acid, low oxygen medium.  “What he found was in the conditions with the high acid, low oxygen, the cancer cells grew like crazy and the normal cells could not survive,” says Dr. Graf.  “But in the alkaline medium with high oxygen, the normal cells grew beautifully and thrived, whereas the cancer cells could not survive.  That said to me, we need to be alkaline.”

Alkalinity is the basis of Dr. Graf’s book and also a key component of her practice.  “Internal to external is major for me and I talk about diet to everyone, because I want them to be alkaline.  I’ll even take out pH strips and test them,” she says.  “Every patient who comes into my office gets a lecture on what she should and shouldn’t eat.  We should be treating diet like a medication, and having a great lifestyle is all part of it.  And we heave to lead by example and start incorporating it into our practice.  Fortunately, I think we’re starting to see more of that.”

Once I read this information I realized that I read something similar in Kate Somerville’s book Complexion Perfection! .  In Chapter 4: Beauty and the Buffet, Somerville relates a story about her father-in-law Dave Somerville and how he started following an alkaline diet after receiving a cancer diagnosis (pages 44- 45):

Four different doctors presented treatment options such as surgery and radiation, but Dave decided to go with a different approach.  He’d always been interested in nutrition and alternative health, and when a friend recommended a naturopathic doctor in San Diego, he found what he was looking for: a doctor who “laughs at cancer.”  I was nervous; in fact I honestly thought at first that it was a mistake.  Yet this is where I first learned how dramatically nutrition can impact the skin.

Dave’s treatment regimen focused on organic foods, a range of immunity-boosting supplements, and drinking nothing but purified water – lots of it.  Most important, he maintained an alkaline environment in his body, the basis of his naturopathic doctor’s protocol.  Dave ate foods that alkalized his body and minimized those that acidified it, helping maintain his body in a healthy pH range and reducing disease-causing acid waste in his system.  The theory (one not supported by the traditional medical community) is that cancer cells don’t grow in alkaline environment.

My father-in-law was completely committed to this program, and in less than a year’s time, his cancer disappeared.  Total recovery. I know this sounds unbelievable, but the strategy miraculously worked for him.  I’m telling you this story here in this book because of the other changes I saw – changes in his skin.  I couldn’t believe it, but I actually saw brown spots and sun damage disappear from Dave’s face, in the same way that the cancer vanished.  From a clinician’s perspective, I thought, This is impossible.  I’d never seen anything like it in my life.  Generally, when people in my line of work see sun spots and pigment issues, we treat them with topical peels, usually aggressively, and topical products.  I was blown away, because Dave’s skin glowed.  I mean, it literally glowed.  To this day, he stays very close to the parameters of the diet, and looks a decade younger than his actual years.

To be sure, the choices my father-in-law made were fairly extreme, and he was absolutely dedicated to the strategy.  However, I cannot deny the impact that this diet had on his health and his appearance.

If you are thinking of switching to a more alkaline diet what exactly should you eat?  And how does this diet actually work?  According to the WebMD article Alkaline Diet: What to Know Before You Try It:

The theory of the alkaline diet is that eating certain foods can help maintain the body’s ideal pH balance to improve overall health. But the body maintains its pH balance regardless of diet.

For instance, your diet may affect the pH level of your urine. But what you eat does not determine your blood’s pH level.

What’s in the Alkaline Diet

The alkaline diet is mostly vegetarian. In addition to fresh vegetables and some fresh fruits, alkaline-promoting foods include soy products and some nuts, grains, and legumes.

Web sites promoting the alkaline diet discourage eating acid-promoting foods, which include meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, processed foods, white sugar, white flour, and caffeine.

The alkaline diet is basically healthy, says Marjorie Nolan, RD, an American Dietetic Association spokeswoman.

“It’s a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of water, avoiding processed foods, coffee, and alcohol, which are all recommendations for a generally healthy diet anyway,” Nolan says. “But our body regulates our pH between 7.35 and 7.45 no matter how we eat.”

Potential Benefits

Diets that include a lot of animal protein can lower urine pH and raise the risk forkidney stones. So eating a diet rich in vegetables, as with an alkaline diet, can raise urine pH and lower the risk for kidney stones, says John Asplin, MD, a kidney specialist who is a fellow of the American Society of Nephrology.

Researchers have speculated that an alkaline diet might slow bone loss and muscle waste, increase growth hormone, make certain chronic diseases less likely, and ease low back pain. However, that hasn’t been proven.

There is also no concrete evidence that an alkaline or vegetarian diet can prevent cancer. Some studies have shown that vegetarians have lower rates of cancer, particularly colon cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. But vegetarians often have other healthy habits, such as exercise and abstaining from drinking and smoking, so it is difficult to determine the effects of diet alone.

“Clinical studies have proved without a doubt that people who eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and hydrate properly do have lower rates of cancer and other diseases,” Nolan tells WebMD, “but it probably has nothing to do with blood pH.”

Because there is no evidence that diet can significantly change blood pH, a highly irregular blood pH is a sign of a larger problem — perhaps kidney failure — not a dietary issue.

People with kidney disease or medical issues that require monitoring by a doctor, such as severe diabetes, should not attempt this diet without medical supervision.

“If someone’s blood sugar is not being monitored properly — especially if they’re on insulin if they’re type 1 or they’re a severe type 2 diabetic — you’re potentiallyrunning the risk of your blood sugar dropping too low after a meal if you don’t know what you’re doing,” Nolan says.

It all comes down to balance, Asplin says. The alkaline diet could potentially over-restrict protein and calcium.

“Vegetarians can be completely healthy in their diets as long as they make sure to get adequate supplies of essential components to a diet. But it is also true that many Americans over-consume protein and get much more than they actually need,” Asplin says.

If you do want to follow a more alkaline diet here are some tips from the Live Strong website:

Which foods fall into the alkaline category is not always obvious. For example, a lemon, which you would probably consider acidic, becomes alkaline when digested and hence falls into the alkaline category. Choosing alkaline foods may at first, therefore, require research. The alkaline diet closely resembles a vegan diet, in that you arrange your meals around plant-based foods rather than meat, the reverse of the typical Western diet. To ensure that you absorb important nutrients, plan to eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Foods to Include

Alkaline foods should comprise about 75 to 80 percent of your diet. The foods to include in an alkaline diet menu include most vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and whole grains. To determine what foods belong to the long list of alkaline vegetables, the Macrobiotics Cooking with Linda Wemhoff site suggests choosing leafy, round root and sea vegetables. In the extensive alkaline fruit category, she recommends tropical- and temperate-climate fruits. Everyday Diet recommends flax, sesame and sunflower, among other seeds, and spelt and sprouted grains. Fresh water, herbal teas, almond milk and wine are considered examples of alkaline beverages.

Foods to Avoid

Acidic foods should comprise no more than 20 to 15 percent of your diet. Foods to avoid on the alkaline diet are meats, dairy, shellfish, saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, processed foods, refined grains and sugars, and artificial and chemical products. In addition, the Health and Rejuvenation Research Center advises avoiding preserves, canned fruits and dried sulfured fruits and various vegetables and beans, including asparagus tips and garbanzo beans. Limit alcoholic beverages and coffee.

Bottom Line:  If this diet interests you I suggest reading more about it.  You can find numerous books about an alkaline diet on amazon.   Most of the sources I read suggested trying to consume 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic for your overall health.  In the long run I could see how a diet like this would benefit both your skin and your health.

Sources and Further Reading:

Doing research for this post turned out to be very informative and interesting.  I learned a lot!  If you have the time check out the sources below for a lot more information about the alkaline diet.

Image from www.alkalinesister.com

 

Book Review: Feed Your Face by Jessica Wu, MD November 10, 2011

 

I noticed Dr. Jessica Wu’s book Feed Your Face last year at my local Barnes and Noble and was intrigued, but I frankly I didn’t want to invest in buying the book so I was psyched to see that my local library had a copy.  There was a simple reason why I didn’t want to invest my money in buying this book – there really isn’t any new information in this book.  Now before you think I didn’t like this book let me explain.  I thought Dr. Wu’s book, for the most part, was well written, concise, easy to read, and contained a lot of good information.  They only thing was – there wasn’t really any new information in this book and you had to slog through lots of celebrity name dropping and ego stroking to actually get to the useful information in the book.  I’ll explain.

Check Your Ego At the Door

Dr. Wu spends a lot of her book reminding her readers of a few things:  she is a graduate of Harvard Medical School, she has MANY celebrity patients, and she used to be ugly but now she looks great.  I do have to say that if the one grainy photo included in the book is supposed to make me really believe that Dr. Wu used to look horrible in the past (acne, bad haircut, etc.) she should get a look at one of my photos from high school to really see how terrible one can look (I had an extremely unflattering haircut in high school coupled with grossly oversized glasses, not meant as an ironic fashion statement, and awful acne) and reevaluate her statement.  But I digress.  How many times do I have to read that Dr. Wu attended Harvard Medical School and that she has a large celebrity following?  I found the fact that she constantly harped on these details to be a massive turn off for me.  Neither of those issues made me want to read her book more.  They actually made me want to read the book less.  But the real kicker for me came with the following encounter Dr. Wu related in chapter 5 of the book (pages 99-100):

Not long ago I spent the evening at a charity fund-raiser in West Hollywood.  (One of my patients organized the event, and she was kind enough to snag me a ticket.)  It was a raucous scene –  a welcome change of pace from the buttoned-up medical conferences I usually attend – and I was enjoying the music, the dancing, and the free-flowing Champagne.  Suddenly I caught the eye of a handsome young actor.  I’d seen him professionally (during a routine exam at my office), but the thought of his sweet, shy smile and cool blue eyes still tied my stomach in nervous knots.  He waved and began making his way though the crowd.

I don’t usually develop crushes on celebrities, no matter how handsome.  After all, I am a doctor, a professional.  I went to Harvard, for crying out loud!  But this man is so charming, so charismatic, so unbelievably dreamy, that he usually travels with an entourage of swimsuit models and Hollywood “It Girls,” all clamoring for his attention.  That night, however, he was uncharacteristically alone.

We exchanged somewhat awkward hellos, and then, to my delight, he leaned forward to whisper something in my ear.  “Could we … go somewhere?” he asked.  He smelled like palm trees and expensive aftershave, a dizzyingly sweet combination.

I thought about my husband, home alone, probably reheating those noodles from last night’s dinner, sitting among a pile of work papers at the kitchen counter, dripping stir-fry sauce on his tie.  But I couldn’t help myself.  I followed the actor as he cut a path through a jam-packed dance floor, past throngs of tipsy partygoers, and led me into a dark, dimly lit hallway near the bathrooms, tucked out of view from the crowd.  All I could hear was the thud, thud, thud of my heart in my chest.  I can’t believe this is happening, I thought.  I can’t believe this is happening!  I held my breath as he leaned in and asked the question I’d been waiting to hear:

         “Um, could you take a look at this rash?”

Come on!!!  Really???!!!   Did the above story really need to be included in this book???!!  I have to say that these types of stories coupled with Dr. Wu’s incessant need to remind her readers of her educational background and current roster of celebrity clients were a huge problem for me with this book.  And that’s a real shame since the book contains lots of valuable information but you have to get past all the superfluous information in the book to get the real facts that can help your skin look its best.

One last thing in this category – Dr. Wu also uses her book as a way to settle scores with, if you are to believe her, is a rather old-fashioned and sexist professional dermatological community.  Dr. Wu takes pains to explain why she prefers to dress in sexy stilettos and skin-tight skirts instead of boring, boxy clothes and how most other dermatologists won’t take her seriously because of her choice of clothes.  Take for example the following (page 340):

There’s nothing more annoying (or more self-confidence-crushing) than being ignored or excluded because of the way you look – whether that’s because you’re a geek in glasses who can’t roll with the cool kids (that was me in high school) or because you’ve embraced your love of Louboutins and, subsequently, people think you’re an airhead.  (Sometimes that’s me now.)  But you know what?  Every year when it comes time to pack for the AAD Conference, I don’t reach for my most conservative duds.  Instead, I pack the hottest thing I own and a kick-ass pair of heels, because when they call the featured speaker to the stage, I can hold my head up high.  There is nothing like that long walk from the back of the room to the podium, the moment when 8,000 doctors realize they’ve flown thousands of miles and shelled out hundreds of dollars to listen (and learn!) from me: the petite woman from the party, the one who just doesn’t look like a doctor.  Knowing that I’ve earned the right to speak as a medical expert (and look damn good doing it) is the best feeling in the world (right up there with graduating from Harvard Medical School and getting paid to examine half-naked celebrity hunks).

Now while I think that a discussion of sexism in the medical community is important and necessary I found it disconcerting that Dr. Wu used her book as a vehicle to try to shame and reproach her fellow professionals.  Isn’t there a better time and place for this?

Having Said All That – What I Learned

It is a shame that Dr. Wu fills her book with so many unnecessary comments because overall her book is interesting, straightforward, and filled with a lot of helpful information.  The premise of the book is that through a healthy diet you can achieve great looking skin.  Is there anything revolutionary about this book and the diet it recommends?  Absolutely not.  The diet Dr. Wu recommends a low glycemic one that emphasizes eating lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and making sure you have omega 3s in your diet.  Numerous people have recommended a diet like this for weight loss and a healthy body.  Dr. Wu connects how certain foods directly affect the skin – both positively and negatively which is interesting.  Unlike the book The Clear Skin Diet which extensively quotes scientific studies in the body of the book Dr. Wu summarizes the findings of studies and then lists her sources in the back of the book so if you want you can look them up yourself.  This makes her book quite readable and accessible though not dumb downed at all.

I did learn quite a few things – like that if you have eczema who should avoid eggs, if you insist on eating a bagel pair it with some fat so that your body digests it more slowly, that almonds will protect your hair from going gray, and if you must have a candy bar have one that contains nuts, like a Snickers, which is better than eating pretzels which are simple carbs and your body just breaks that down like sugar.  Furthermore I learned the importance of eating tomatoes (and I loved that Dr. Wu puts pizza on her list of allowed foods), page 40:

Tomatoes have more lycopene than almost any other food, making them particularly effective at preventing sunburn and UV radiation damage in the skin.  In fact, studies show that eating as little as 20 g of tomato paste per day (about 1 1/4 tablespoons) can reduce the risk of sunburn by as much as 33 percent.

The next time you’re heading to the beach or spending the day in your garden, add some tomatoes to the menu.  You’ll counteract the effects of a day in th sun as well as help prevent wrinkles, age spots, and inflammation (not to mention lower your risk of developing skin cancer).  Even when you’re not lounging poolside, adding more tomatoes to your diet can protect you from the small amount of UV light you’ll inevitably encounter when your sunscreen wears off – or when you forget to put it on!

You can get the same amount of lycopene found in 20 g of tomato paste by eating

  • 1 slice of pizza (with marinara or red sauce)
  • 1/2 cup of V8 juice
  • 6 tablespoons of salsa

Bear in mind that lycopene is better absorbed by the intestines when the tomatoes are cooked.  In fact, the lycopene in tomato paste is four times more “bioavailable” than in fresh tomatoes (meaning it’s four times easier for the body to absorb).  The absolute best source of lycopene (offering the most sun protection) are tomato paste and tomato sauce – so opt for pizza instead of a burger, especially if you are dining al fresco.  Lycopene is also fat soluble, which means you need to pair your tomatoes with a healthy fat to get the maximum benefits.  Try drizzling tomato slices with a splash of olive oil or enjoy them with some avocado.

One more thing: Lycopene may be effective at preventing sun damage, but a diet rich in tomatoes doesn’t preclude the need for sunscreen altogether.  Slather on a minimum SPF 30 every time you’re headed outdoors.

Interesting stuff and well worth reading.

Since I’ve read The Clear Skin Diet (read my review here) the chapter about acne and diet was simply a review for me (avoid sugar and dairy, eat whole foods, etc.).  But there was a curious part of that chapter that didn’t make much sense to me (especially after a client of mine, with whom I was discussing the book, pointed out to me that this had little logic to it) and that was Dr. Wu’s assertion that iodine exposure causes acne.  Now I have read before that excessive iodine exposure will cause acne, but what makes little sense here is that in Japan, where the traditional diet is high in iodine, the national rates of acne are very low.  The Japanese began experiencing acne at the same levels as Americans when they moved away from that traditional diet and began eating a more American diet – high in fat and sugars and low in vegetables and omega-3s.  (See chapter 7: The Former Clear Skin Nation: Japan in The Clear Skin Diet for many more details on this phenomena).  So while it is true that the traditional American diet contains too much salt in it and that excessive consumption of iodine has been linked to acne I feel that singling out Japanese food as an acne culprit (see page 90 in the book) is misguided.

Chapter 6: To Tan or Not to Tan does a good job at going over the dangers of sun exposure and the importance of daily sun protection.  Dr. Wu’s discussion of the Vitamin D controversy (pages 149-151) is well done.  What I really appreciated was the meal plan for her diet outlined on pages 264 – 282.  Though vegetarian options were few and far between (I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years so I’m not going change now) I could see how I could tweak the menus for my use.  I just wished she provided some dessert options besides a strawberry drizzled with dark chocolate.  I found Chapter 8: Eating for Stronger, Healthier Hair and Nails thorough and helpful.  And according to Dr. Wu eating almonds prevents gray hairs so with the amount of almonds I consume on a daily basis I shouldn’t have any gray hairs ever.  The book even contains a chapter on how to make your own skin products at home if you are so inclined which is a perfect area to cover with the economy being as it is these days.

Buy It?

Overall I thought this book contained a great deal of valuable information.  The dietary tips, instructions, and menus are logical and easy to follow though you’ll have to cheat once or twice or go crazy.  Certainly this book made me reexamine my diet, and I got to thinking about how much sugar is contained in everyday foods (like your supermarket peanut butter).   This book could be a valuable addition to a home library though if you want a book that truly covers ALL skin issues purchase Simple Skin Beauty by Dr. Ellen Marmur.  If only Dr. Wu had stopped shoving the fact that she went to Harvard and has celebrity clients down the readers throat.  The book could have been a lot better without Dr. Wu trying to prove to everyone how smart, capable, and sexy she is.  In my opinion, address those personal issues with a therapist not your readers.

 

Can You Get Rid of Cellulite? October 27, 2010

Is there any comfort in the fact that anyone can get cellulite?    Thin people get cellulite, rich people get cellulite, beautiful people get cellulite.  About 85% of women over the age of 18 have some degree of cellulite on their upper legs, buttocks, and abdomens.  It can affect you regardless of ethnicity, age, race, weight, and lifestyle choices because cellulite is mostly a genetic disorder.   This lumpy appearance on our thighs, some call it the cottage cheese look, is caused by fat cells bulging upwards – a function of the structure of how the fat and skin fit together.  Our epidermis, the top layer of our skin, has fibrous anchors that go down to the fat layer of our skin, and it is these connections that cause the dimpling appearance of cellulite.  While losing weight may help improve the appearance of cellulite on some people there are many other factors involved in the formation of cellulite that make it a huge challenge to treat.  Of course that doesn’t mean that Americans aren’t willing to try – by 2012 it is estimated that Americans will spend more than $215 on anti-cellulite treatments.

 

Myths About Cellulite

There are so many ideas out there about what causes cellulite and how to treat it.  In a piece on her website Paula Begoun debunks a number of  the biggest cellulite myths:

Drinking water helps: If water could change skin structure and reduce fat I assure you no one would have cellulite, or would be overweight for that matter. Drinking water probably is beneficial (although there is really no research showing how much is healthy versus unhealthy) but there is no research showing water consumption will impact fat anywhere on your body, let alone the dimples on your thighs.

Arguments for high water intake are generally based on the assumption that because our bodies consist mostly of wa-ter (50-70% of body weight, about forty-two liters) and our blood, muscles, brain, and bones are made up mainly of wa-ter (85%, 80%, 75%, and 25%, respectively), we therefore need at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. But assumptions aren’t science and this one is a non-sequitur; it is similar to arguing that since our cars run on gasoline, they always need a full tank to run efficiently. (Source: American Journal of Physiology—Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology, November 2002, pages 993-1004)

Water retention causes cellulite: It’s ironic that low water intake is considered a possible cause of cellulite, and the polar opposite—retaining too much water—is thought to be a factor as well. There is lots of speculation of how water retention can affect cellulite but there is no actual research supporting this notion. Further, fat cells actually contain only about 10% water, so claiming to eliminate excess water won’t make a difference and any measurable result would be transient at best. It is true that water retention can make you look bloated and feel like you’ve gained weight, but water itself doesn’t impact fat or the appearance of cellulite. (Source: Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, November 2003, pages 817-821)Eating a specialized diet can help: A healthy diet that encourages weight loss may help your entire body look better. How-ever, because weight in and of itself is not a cause of cellulite, dieting won’t change the skin structure of your thighs, which causes the dimpled contours to show. For some people cellulite is made worse by the accumulation of extra fat. In those cases, weight reduction may decrease the total area and depth of cellulite. (Source: Clinical Dermatology, July-August 2004, pages 303-309)

Exercise can help: Exercise helps almost every system in the human body, but it won’t necessarily impact the appearance of cellulite. Exercise doesn’t improve skin structure and it can’t affect localized areas of fat. In other words, you can’t spot reduce fat accumulation in a specific area. (Source: British Journal of Plastic Surgery, April 2004, pages 222-227)

Detoxifying the body reduces the appearance of cellulite: Detoxifying the body for consumers has taken on the meaning of purging it of pollutants or any other problem substances in the environment or in the foods we eat. In terms of the way this concept has been mass marketed, there is little research showing credible efficacy as to whether or not detoxification of the body is even possible. However, “detoxifying” the body as it is used in the scientific community describes the process of reducing cellular damage primarily by antioxidants or enzymes that prevent certain abnormal or undesirable cell func-tions from taking place. There is no doubt this is helpful for the body. Whether or not this reduces cellulite is completely unknown because skin structure and fat accumulation are not caused by toxins in the environment. Furthermore, there are no studies showing toxins of any kind prevent fat from being broken down. (Sources: Journal of Endotoxin Research, April 2005, pages 69-84 and Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, May 2003, pages 258-264)

 

 

Treatment Options

 

Cellulite treatment options fall into two main categories:  topical products and machines.  I’ll also mention mesotherapy which are injections.

 

Topical Products

In my opinion, topical creams that claim to treat cellulite are pretty much a big waste of your money.  I’m certainly not alone in my opinion.  Ellen Marmur, MD in her book Simple Skin Beauty, page 213 writes:

As with most topicals, any visible results wash off or fade away fast.  Again, if any one of these really worked, it would be the hottest product on the market.  …  My advice:  save your money, let the cellulite battle go, and buy yourself a beautiful pair of shoes.  That will have a much better payoff.

Furthermore, Paula Begoun states:

As far as skin-care products for the body are concerned, the litany of options is mesmerizing. Yet there is almost no uniformity between formulas. It would appear, if the claims are to be believed, a wide variety of unrelated plant extracts can deflate or break down fat and/or restructure skin. Looking at the research, however, most articles suggest there is little hope that anything rubbed on the skin can change fat deposits or radically improve the appearance of cellulite.

The hope that botanicals have the answer is odd because not one study points to what concentration of an ingredient needs to be in a formulation, what physiochemical characteristics particular to each active ingredient need to be present, or whether or not these ingredients retain any standardized properties between batches. (Sources: Dermatologic Surgery, July 2005, pages 866-872 and The European Journal of Dermatology, December 2000, pages 596–603)

So as tempting as it is to think that you can solve your cellulite problem with a cream – skip it.   At best these creams and lotions very temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite.   But there is one thing to keep in mind – a fake tan will make your cellulite less noticeable.  So thinking to invest in a good self-tanner is actually a viable option in order to disguise your cellulite temporarily.  (For a very thorough breakdown of both ingredients and products that claim to treat cellulite see Paula Begoun’s article)

 

What about in office treatments?

 

First let me talk about mesotherapy which I would advise against.  During a mesotherapy treatment caffeine, enzymes, anti-inflammatories, alphahydroxy acids, vitamins, or the drugs phosphatydalcholine and deoxycholate  are injected into the areas of cellulite and fatty deposits.  It is said that these injections help to break up fat cells (fat cells burst and die) and reduce cellulite.  Complications can include ulcers, scarring, deformities, skin infections, and tissue damage.  Mesotherapy is widely practiced in Europe, but highly controversial in the United States.  Currently the FDA has started cracking down on medical spas that offer this treatment, but it has taken the FDA time to look into the practice since it falls outside of FDA regulations.  The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery along with the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation is conducting a FDA approved study on the safety and efficacy of mesotherapy.  There is a hope that in the future there will be both a FDA approved formula for injection and a standardization of procedures, safety, and protocols.   As I already stated, I would stay away from mesotherapy.  Once the FDA reaches its conclusions about this procedure it might be time to reconsider, but overall I think it will never be a good option for treating cellulite.

 

Machines

 

Perhaps you have heard of Endermologie or VelaSmooth for treating cellulite.  Endermologie uses rollers and suction to massage areas with cellulite, and while the device is FDA approved for cellulite treatment that does not prove that it actually works as claims.  At best these treatments are expensive and offer a temporary improvement in the appearance of cellulite.  So try Endermologie at your own risk, a risk mostly to your bank account.  Velasmooth combines infrared light, radio-frequency, and mechanical suction in an attempt to reduce the appearance of cellulite by heating the fat and liquefying it or reducing its size.  As with Endermologie a series of treatments is needed in order to see results with Velasmooth, and once again, treatments do not come cheap.  Results, as always, are mixed.    Personally I would save my money when it comes to both of these treatments.  While there are few risks to your health with these treatments, they also don’t really work.  The only place you will see a real difference is in your bank account.  Save your money!

There are even more procedures out there that claim to address cellulite including cellulite subscissions that uses a needle to sever the anchors under the skin so that the skin looks smoother.  While this might make theoretical sense, it works successfully on acne scars, safety studies are few and far between and the surgery is expensive.

 

 

Bottom Line

 

I’ll reiterate what Dr. Marmur wrote:

Save your money, let the cellulite battle go, and buy yourself a beautiful pair of shoes.  That will have a much better payoff.

And if you really, really want to try something to reduce the appearance of your cellulite before wearing a bathing suit or short skirt I’ll mention it again – use a self-tanner to temporarily disguise the appearance of cellulite.  Above all – don’t believe the hype or anything for that matter when it comes to cellulite treatments.

 

Sources and Further Reading

 

 

 
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