Cellulite is a harmless skin condition that causes a dimpled or lumpy appearance of the skin, usually on hips, thighs, buttocks, and abdominal areas. Girls can have cellulitis from early teens since the condition affects about 80 to 90% of postpubertal women (1). The condition can occur in boys, albeit rarely (2).
Cellulite is not a health concern and does not require any medical treatment. Nevertheless, it is common to try various home treatments, lifestyle modifications, and cosmetic procedures to improve the skin’s appearance. Consult a certified dermatologist to evaluate the skin and choose the appropriate treatment method for your teen.
Read this post to know more about the causes, treatments, effectiveness of treatment, home remedies, and cellulite prevention in teens.
Causes Of Cellulite In Teens
The exact cause of cellulite is unknown. Cellulite is neither a disease nor a sign or symptom of internal medical issues. However, many tend to believe myths suggesting cellulite is caused by laziness, certain toxins, etc.
The following factors are believed to contribute to cellulite (2).
- Fluid accumulation in the skin from lymphatics and microcirculation
- Distortion of skin fat due to a fibrous tissue
- Out-pouching of fat tissue
The following factors may also have a role in developing cellulite (2).
- Estrogen hormone levels may have a role in cellulite development since it is rare in men and prepubescent and menopausal women
- Family history shows genetic links
- Certain racial factors
Cellulitis may occur in a physically active and fit person and may not appear in overweight or obese person. Therefore, exercise and diet are less likely to be linked to the condition.
When To See A Doctor
It is not necessary to treat cellulite since it does not cause any harm. If your teen has concerns about the skin’s appearance, then you may consult a dermatologist or primary care physician before attempting any cosmetic procedures.
Treatment For Cellulite In Teens
There is a wide range of cosmetic treatments to improve skin appearance. It is important to note that altough some may have temporary results, most of these treatments are not a cure and can lead to side effects. Combination treatment methods usually have more positive outcomes.
You may choose any of the following treatment modalities, after consulting a certified dermatologist. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the most effective treatment options for cellulitis include (3):
1. Weight loss
Weight loss may help make the cellulite less noticeable in some people. However, loose skin due to weight loss may make it more visible in a few cases. Seek expert help for an adequate weight loss plan for your teen.
Physical activity helps replace the fat tissue with muscles and thus may make cellulite less noticeable.
3. Acoustic wave therapy
Acoustic wave therapy uses sound waves from a transducer (handheld device) over the skin. It helps reduce fat cells and improve skin tone (4). The procedure may have to be conducted with a diet and exercise regime. Several sessions may be required for treatment.
4. Laser treatment
Minimally invasive laser treatment is a laser ablation method that uses thin laser fibers inserted under the skin. The laser destroys the fibrous tissue bands that bind the fat cells and thickens the skin, making cellulite less visible. The results of this method could last for six months to a year.
Subcision is a surgical procedure to break down the fibrous bands beneath the skin using needles. It reduces the appearance of cellulite. This treatment could yield results that last two years or longer.
6. Vacuum-assisted tissue release
Vacuum-assisted precise tissue release is also a procedure of breaking down the tight bands of connective tissue beneath the skin with small blades. The results may last three years or longer in some cases.
The below-listed treatment methods may also help reduce cellulite, but may require several sessions and may not give long-lasting results (3).
Carboxytherapy is a medical procedure of inserting carbon dioxide under the skin. Although it could provide good results, side effects such as discomfort and temporary bruising are associated with this procedure.
8. Anti-cellulite creams and lotions
Creams and lotions may reduce cellulite in some people, especially products containing 0.3% of retinol that thickens the skin. Caffeine-based creams could be useful in some cases due to its dehydrating effects. Many tend to notice changes after six months of daily application of creams. However, long-term, regular use is mostly required to achieve improvement.
It is recommended to take a skin allergy reaction test by applying cream or lotion to a small skin area before full-fledged application. It is also essential to check all the ingredients of the cream to avoid adverse effects. For instance, products with the compound aminophylline can cause breathing problems in asthmatic patients who use inhalers.
Endermologie is a deep massage with a device that could lift the skin like a vacuum tool. This form of massage is available in many spas and esthetic centers. Each session of Endermologie massage lasts for 45 minutes.
This treatment has little potential to cause harm. However, the results vary with some people noticing no difference in their cellulite. The results of the procedure are temporary and last only a month. The procedure may involve long-term treatment.
Ionithermie is a spa-based cellulite reduction treatment with electrodes. Ionithermie involves applying algae or clay, or a mix of both over the cellulite and wrapping the area with plastic before attaching electrodes.
Even though it is a low-frequency electric current, some may feel discomfort and pain during the procedure. Some people had no changes after the process, whereas others noticed positive results lasting 12 to 18 hours.
11. Radiofrequency treatment
Radiofrequency treatment is a non-ablative (no wounds) treatment using a device to deliver radiofrequency to the skin. Your teen may require several treatment sessions to reduce cellulite and improve the skin’s cosmetic appearance. Skin bruises may occur in a few cases and usually fade away in a few days.
Fat removal treatment methods may not be valid for cellulite removal. Although some people may have less noticeable cellulite after fat removal treatment, a few may have increased dimpled skin.
A few fat removal treatment methods are (3):
- Invasive laser-assisted liposuction is useful to remove fat but may make cellulite more noticeable.
- Ultrasonic liposculpting or ultrasound liposuction is a non-invasive fat removal treatment. There is no evidence that ultrasound alone can improve cellulite, but may have positive outcomes if combined with other treatment.
What Is Not Recommended For Treating Cellulite?
You may come across with a lot of commercial hype of products and therapies to treat cellulite. It is better to consult a dermatologist than rely on advertisements to choose a treatment based on skin type and requirements.
Even though some esthetic centers offer the following therapies, they are not recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology for cellulite removal (3).
Cryolipolysis (Cool Sculpting) is a method of freezing fat below the skin using a vacuum device and cool pads. It helps eliminate pockets of unwanted fat but may not be effective in eliminating cellulite.
Mesotherapy involves administering injections to the affected area. Various substances are injected into the cellulite, such as caffeine, hormones, herbal extracts, or enzymes. The substance may vary depending on the practitioner, and some may use a single element or blend of ingredients.
Although there are claims that the procedure gives a positive result, it is not recommended due to side effects, such as swelling, erythema (redness), lump formation, and allergic reactions. Injection site infections and skin changes may also occur in mesotherapy.
Dietary supplements such as grape seed extract, caffeine, or ginkgo lack scientific evidence for their effectiveness.
Cellulite treatments are not medically necessary. These cosmetic procedures are often associated with side effects and may require several sessions for temporary results. Many procedures may result in skin damage or may cause side effects that require medical treatment.
There is a lack of scientific evidence for some anecdotal concepts such as vigorous skin massages and the consumption of certain foods to improve lymphatic flow or remove toxins to eliminate cellulite.
How To Prevent Cellulite In Teens?
Prevention of cellulite may not be possible since the causes are unknown. Maintaining a healthy weight and regular physical activity may help prevent cellulite in some people. A healthy diet and adequate hydration may also help in prevention (5).
You may encourage your teen to ignore it or choose a dressing that could cover the affected area in case the teen is conscious about cellulite. Cellulite neither affects health nor interferes with the teen’s growth. Therefore, there is no medical reason to eliminate it. If your teen still wishes to seek treatment for cosmetic reasons, then always consult a board-certified dermatologist before cellulite treatments.
2. Cellulite; The Australasian College of Dermatologists
3. Cellulite Treatments: What Really Works?; The American Academy Of Dermatology
4. Acoustic Wave Therapy (AWT); Clyde Injury Clinic
5. Cellulite; MedlinePlus; The United States National Library of Medicine
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