Weight loss may decrease the severity of cellulite for some women -- but may worsen the condition for others, reports a study in August's Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
"Approximately 85 percent of women are affected by cellulite," said John Kitzmiller, MD, ASPS Member Surgeon and study co-author. "Cellulite is not specific to overweight people, but excess weight may worsen the condition. We found that weight loss in overweight patients improved the appearance of cellulite, but for a few, it actually worsened the condition."
The study examined 29 women who enrolled in medically supervised weight loss programs including low-fat meals, liquid diets, medication, and bariatric surgery. Seventeen patients experienced an improvement in the appearance of their cellulite, while 9 worsened. The average weight loss was 30.5 pounds (range 2.3 -- 102 pounds).
Patients who lost larger amounts of weight and lowered their percentage of thigh fat experienced the greatest improvement in cellulite. These patients had a significantly higher starting body mass index (BMI) and had more severe cellulite on average.
Patients whose cellulite worsened started with a significantly lower BMI, lost smaller amounts of weight, and had no change in percentage of thigh fat.
Skin elasticity after weight loss also played an important role in improving the appearance of cellulite. Cellulite worsened in those whose skin became significantly looser after weight loss.
"There is no answer for completely eliminating cellulite, however, it appears the more weight one loses, the better its appearance," said Dr. Kitzmiller. "Although the appearance of cellulite diminished for the majority of patients, weight loss did not totally eradicate the condition. The dimples appear to be permanent features that lessen in depth as the pounds come off."
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. With more than 6,000 members, the society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Materials provided by American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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