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How to… combat cellulite

Skin expert shares his expertise

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According to expert Dr Nyjon Eccles of the Chiron Clinic, massage is helpful in reducing the appearance of cellulite 

26 MAY 2009

Despite being a perfectly natural feature of the female form – you can see dimpled flesh in many Renaissance portraits – cellulite has only recently become an apparent ‘problem’ in western cultures. But for those who would prefer smoother skin on their thighs and bottoms, we asked cellulite expert Dr Nyjon Eccles of the Chiron Clinic in London’s Harley Street (www.chironclinic.com; 0207 224 4622) to share his expertise on the causes and ‘cures’.

What causes cellulite?
We don’t know for sure, but there appear to be common factors that combine to create the orange-peel effect: fat accumulation under the skin, compromised lymphatic drainage and reduced circulation. If you do something about those three factors, it generally improves.

Why does it look so distinctive?
The structure of the tissue on the parts of the body where women typically find cellulite – thighs, bottom and sometimes the belly – is what predisposes women, rather than men, towards dimply flesh. There is a lattice-shape structure to the connective tissue, which is mainly made up of collagen and elastin, and there’s more fat in those areas [to protect reproductive organs]. Build-up of fluids, reduced oxygen and increased physical pressure caused by the amount of fat pushes the cells through this lattice towards the surface where they therefore appear dimpled.

What can you do yourself to reduce its appearance?
Simply, increase circulation, reduce fat accumulation and improve lymphatic drainage. Exercise will work on all three; you may need to do more to reduce the factors that predispose you to weight gain, most obviously looking at your diet. As well as cutting down, you should consider what you eat, too. A more alkaline diet – one that’s plant based with fewer animal products – will reduce acidity in the diet which increases circulation and improves oxygen supply.

So what treatments do you think are effective?
Massage is always helpful. Supplements of L-carnitine may help as it’s a fat burner. Advanced lymph drainage with pulsed light is ten-times more efficient than manual lymph drainage, increasing oxygen into the tissues and helping unblock lymph while improving circulation. Many clinics use pulsed electricity that opens pores in the skin to force active ingredients deep below the surface where they can be more effective. As for shop-bought topical treatments, they’ll have a superficial hydrating effect that may reduce s uperficial dimpling. But I’d be sceptical that there would be a significant effect on a long-term basis.

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