Fat, Cellulite and Ageing
Most women start developing cellulite as they age. They begin to recognise it when they see some dimpling and perhaps even a certain amount of lumpiness in specific areas such as the buttocks, thighs and hips. The reason it shows up at this time and in these areas has to do with our ageing process and the hormone changes that many women experience at various times in our lives.
As we reach a certain age, the boundaries between the dermis and the fat underlying it in the subdermis begins to change. This shift is a result of variations over time with the skin’s blood flow as well as any scarring that may have occurred with the tissue or increased inflammation. As these types of damage build up in our skin, they leave uneven openings between the cells. The result can be fat that is able to squeeze up from the subdermis to the dermis. When it does this, it results in lumpy or dimpled areas that we call cellulite.
At one time the only way you could remove them was to have the fat below the dermis layer removed surgically with liposuction. As you might suspect from the name, this technique would literally suck the fat from the subdermis, eliminating the problem. But it was lengthy and expensive, as well as having a long down time after to recover. After all, it was surgery. Today there are a number of non-invasive techniques that can resolve this issue with cellulite, as well as take care of unwanted pockets of fat. These include state of the art approaches that actually break down the fat cells with lasers and ultra-sound. This process is referred to as ‘contouring’.
Cellulite and Weight Gain
The calories we consume provide the energy we need to keep our bodies running. This is fine as long as we don’t consume more calories than we need. When we do, the body will store it for use at a later time, often in specific areas such as the buttocks and breasts. This is why we always seem to gain our weight in these areas first.
Many women find it is difficult to lose fat from certain areas such as the muffin top, tummy roll or the tops of their knees. This fat can often persist even if we diet or exercise. As we age fat becomes cellulite, especially in these problem areas. Now those little extra ‘love handles’ have a new problem. They begin to look rough and develop ugly dimples.
The Battle of the Bulge
Women in their late 40s or early 50s go through enormous changes with the arrival of menopause. The hormones related to our sex drive, oestrogen and progesterone, shift as we prepare to move into the non-reproductive stage of our lives. Our bodies feel we no longer need these hormones since we have stopped producing eggs, but hormones also affect our skin and how our body distributes weight.
Our metabolism slows down and our skin becomes dry, brittle and often prone to bruising. These changes mean our skin loses the suppleness it had when we were young. This shift isn’t just skin deep but goes right down to the cellular level, leaving us open to forming cellulite. The changes in our hormone levels also shifts the distribution of fat cells, with more fat being deposited around the middle, buttocks and hips. But menopause isn’t the only time that changes in our lives might result in weight gain and ultimately lead to the formation of cellulite.
Because hormones play such a vital role in our body, any sudden changes to our hormone levels can affect us drastically. Women have long known that they may be prone to the post baby blues because of hormone swings after giving birth. These same shifts in our hormones can result in unexpected weight gain, often called “baby weight” and often in the areas we mentioned above.
Hormones are not the only reason for weight gain in these areas. Stress can lead to over-eating, some prescription drugs have been known to have weight gain as a side effect and chronic health problems can often lead to weight gain that is hard to reverse. All of these can create ongoing problems with weight gain that in the end leaves a woman’s body prone to the production of cellulite.
Taking Back Control of Our Bodies
Obviously if we are to take control of our weight, we need to start by looking at the options open to us to not only lose weight but reduce the cellulite. Thankfully with today’s technology there are several options open to tackle the problem of extra fat and cellulite. There are invasive surgeries that can remove the cellulite. There are also new technologies that make use of ultrasound, radio frequency and even freezing to disrupt cell structure and reduce cellulite. Of course, the logical one to consider first is diet.
How Effective Are Diets
When it comes to losing weight diet is still the first line of defence. Most diets focus on one area and help us to lose weight by giving up a specific type of food. Low fat diets and low carb diets are two good examples of this. Some people concentrate on calories and will count the calories of everything they eat. If a dieter sticks to the rules of the diet and doesn’t cheat (a common problem for any dieter) then they can usually lose the weight that they want to lose.
The problem is that many gain the weight back, yo-yoing back and forth on diets they cannot maintain. Without the education to understand why the diet is effective, it is just a fad and doesn’t keep the weight off. To complicate things, this constant gaining and losing weight is hard on the body and stretches the skin leaving marks that add to the dieter’s frustration. Without guidance and encouragement many women get trapped in this endless cycle and never gain the healthy body they are striving for.
There is no quick fix or easy solution when it comes to losing body fat for good. It definitely gets harder as we get older. Usually big changes need to be made in eating patterns to have success. Minor adjustments just won’t be enough. At Shine Clinic in Brisbane we treat the individual. We don’t just apply a formula. Hormones are important and differences in genetic makeup need to be considered. Weight loss can be achieved with commitment and consistency. Weight loss is maintained with hormonal and emotional support, healthy eating and regular exercise. This is the ideal situation.
Solutions Beyond Dieting
Even if desired weight loss is achieved, there is no guarantee that you will also be rid of the cellulite and pockets of lumpy skin. Thin people can be troubled by cellulite as well. This is partly due to ageing skin and weakening of collagen with protrusion of fat from the sub dermis into the dermis. With thinner skin than men, women are more prone to cellulite as well. As science came to understand the body and how it works at a cellular level, we began to see solutions that used new technologies to solve old problems.
Some of these technologies were used to treat chronic illnesses at a cellular level and scientists began to apply them in other ways, including getting rid of fat cells we didn’t need or want. This is how cryolipolysis, ultrasound and radiofrequency came to be part of the new body of anti-ageing tools.
This innovative use of cold temperatures to remove unwanted fat cells has been used in Europe with great success since 2005. A non-invasive technique that takes care of unwanted fat cells that have proven stubborn even with proper diet and exercise, this is a good technique for specific smaller areas of treatment.
What is Cryolipolysis? Cryolipolysis uses a non-invasive technique that freezes the fat cells without harming the other cells surrounding them. When fat cells are exposed to very low temperatures it reduces them and actually dissolves them. Best of all it does it without damaging the layers of skin in the dermis.
How does it work? Cryolipolysis focuses in on a specific area and then applies deep cold to freeze and destroy the fat cells. The reason this works is that fat cells are actually more sensitive to cold than other types of cells, so they will freeze more readily. During treatment a suction cup will be used to control the area where the freezing will occur but there is no actual suction of fat as there is in liposuction.
However, because the action does introduce some inflammation of a low grade nature, this contributes to the skin remodeling that is part of this procedure. During the time that the suction cup is applied the area is chilled down, to around 5˚C. This low temperature is maintained for 20–30 minutes. When these low temperatures are held for this length of time, the fat cells freeze, die and are reabsorbed into the body in a natural way.
What about side effects of Cryolipolysis? This is a painless procedure that doesn’t require anaesthesia and with virtually no downtime. Some swelling and redness in the skin area may happen after the procedure as a reaction to the cold. This reaction is temporary and will be gone quickly, generally within a few days. For maximum results it is recommended that a series of treatments are done within a short amount of time such as on a weekly basis.
Ultrasound has been used for years to shrink tumours in cancer patients. The same principle applies to shrinking fat tissues and has proven very effective. The ultrasound vibrates the fat cells, making them too hot to survive. The cell membrane ruptures and the fatty cell contents are released into the interstitial fluid. This is then drained away naturally with the lymphatic system.
What is it? There are several types of ultrasound devices that help patients lose those unwanted areas of fat cells and get rid of cellulite pockets. Some of these devices can alter the depth of the sound waves, an important feature. The deeper the waves penetrate the more they can clear out deep lying fat tissues. When the machine is adjusted to use shorter waves it will help with sagging skin and to tighten up specific areas such as the inner thighs or below the belly button.
How does cavitation ultrasound work to remove unwanted fat? Many cavitation ultrasound devices use two hand pieces each with a different role in the treatment. The first one emits ultrasound waves that affect only the fat cells causing them to heat up and then break down releasing their fatty contents into the surrounding tissue to be drained away. The second paddle creates a vacuum that will help to massage and direct the liquified fat towards the nearest lymph nodes for drainage away from the area. The entire procedure takes from 30–60 minutes.
What about side effects? While some may find the process slightly uncomfortable if done in areas with large bones, it is quickly performed and there are no lasting side effects. Many say that the swift localised heat feels very much like a hot stone massage treatment. There will be some inflammation in the first few days after the procedure but this is normal and will disappear quickly. The treatment works best when applied on a weekly basis for at least four or five weeks.
Initially a treatment to heal wounds, radiofrequency (RF) treatments have recently been repurposed as a gentle technique for getting rid of fat pockets and cellulite. As with the ultrasound cavitation technology, the procedure is non-invasive. Again this is not intended for general body weight reduction but rather to spot reduce specific areas that diet and exercise alone do not seem to help.
What is an RF treatment? Radiofrequency treatments work at a cellular level to not only remove fat but at the same time tighten the skin. It targets fat cells and gets rid of them by heating them up so they turn to a liquid and become reabsorbed by the body. This non-invasive treatment can work on fairly large areas of the body at a time and is pain-free, yet another reason it has become so popular with women across the country.
How does radiofrequency work to remove fat from a selected area? The treatment consists of passing the hand piece emitting a specific radiofrequency over the area to be treated. Using bipolar frequencies for a noninvasive approach, radiofrequency treatments work at a subdermal level to introduce a uniform heat that disrupts fat cells. There is also some collagen stimulation and this assists with skin tightening.
What about side effects? Slight redness and heat may occur but are short lived.
Who is Best Suited for These Procedures? Women who are healthy and exercise but just can’t seem to get rid of those last five kilos will find these are the perfect solution for those stubborn areas. Because these techniques are ideal to hone in on a specific area such as love handles or a small tummy pouch, they are perfect for women who may have seen changes in their body due to having children or going through menopause.
If they were in shape and healthy before, they may have found one or two specific areas that just don’t respond to the usual diet and exercise that works for the rest of their body. These new non-invasive treatments can give them the body they deserve and with little fuss or side effects. They offer a simpler solution than surgery with evidence of their effectiveness in targeting specific areas.