Anti-Cellulite Shorts: Do They Really Work?

Check out the latest weapon in the war against fat.
- Kathryn H. Cusimano, BettyConfidential.com
No matter what size you are or what shape you're in, chances are you're plagued by cellulite. You can spend hours on the treadmill or cooking healthy meals, but it's all futile when it comes to those butt-ugly lumps of fat on your bum and thighs.

"The more fat you have, the more obvious the cellulite will be," says Dr. Jeffrey Bonabio, a board-certified dermatologist and a voluntary assistant clinical professor at the University of California San Diego. "However, even thin, athletic women have cellulite."

But what if a magic piece of clothing - say, a pair of tight little shorts - could massage it all away? A few fitness brands are claiming that their shorts do exactly that.

Read Do Toning Sneakers Really Work?

If that's so, anti-cellulite shorts are a beauty miracle, because experts say that the appearance of cellulite can be minimized but not eliminated. And despite the multi-billion- dollar cosmetic-surgery business, there's no procedure that will cure it.

Basically, cellulite's formed when "fat cells become too large," says Dr. Howard Sobel, a clinical attending physician in dermatology and dermatologic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. "The compartments that hold the fat then bulge and form uneven fat layers."

Manufacturers of anti-cellulite shorts say their products - which look like bike shorts and are designed to be worn alone or under clothing - target these fat layers. An Italian company called Solidea sells Micro-Massage Anti-Cellulite Compression Shorts for $65 a pair. The company claims their shorts use "compression and stimulation to detoxify the tissues " and "boost the circulation of oxygenated blood to assist in removing toxins and waste." In other words, the heavy weave of the shorts presses into your skin as you move, forcing excess water to drain out from around the fat cells.

Delfin Spa makes Bio Ceramic Anti -Cellulite Shorts, $49.99 a pair, which the company claims "generates Far Infrared Rays (FIR) and reflects your body's own Far Infrared Rays." Essentially, this means they make you hot, says Dr. Benabio. The company says the added heat will help "break down cellulite cells, improve circulation and revitalize tissue," and says most people see results in under 30 days.

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While it's possible that compression shorts can help drain fluid around the fat cells that cause those dreaded dimples, there is no way to get rid of cellulite permanently. "Anything that squeezes the fat will improve the appearance of the cellulite," Dr. Benabio says. "This is temporary, however, and eventually the water returns and the fat becomes dimpled in appearance."

Adds Dr. Sobel, "Most of the treatments for cellulite that we have last between hours and days. You have to do it several times a week to consistently see results."

If you do decide to give these products a shot, be prepared to get intimate with them - you'll need to wear your shorts nonstop to notice any difference. You may be able to use them as a short-term fix for a big event or beach vacation, but you should make sure those shorts are practically glued to your hips. Wear them in the weeks leading up to a beach trip and in between sunbathing sessions. Dr. Sobel recommends that those who take the plunge for a vacation wear them every second possible, including in the hotel room before you hit the sand or head out for a hot date night. "It's like Cinderella," he says, "get [to your event] at nine and leave before midnight," lest the returning dimples interrupt your fun!

But rather than orchestrating Superman-style quick changes out of compression shorts to maximize your lump-free time, you may want to try what experts recommend: a healthy diet and exercise regime. Avoiding fatty and bloat-inducing foods and targeting cellulite-prone areas during your workouts can help reduce its appearance. Says Bonabio, "Vigorous exercise can help push some of the water out of the fat and temporarily tighten the skin [as the muscle underneath enlarges from exercise, making the skin tighter]."

And Aime Hoff, personal fitness trainer at New York Sports Clubs, says that reducing body fat while increasing the muscle definition in your butt and thighs can give you a better shape, which will give you the appearance of less cellulite. Aime recommends combining fat-burning cardio with targeted toning exercises for the best results. She gave us a few of her favorites:

Read The Five Hottest Fitness Trends

Jumping Jack Squats: "Do a big jumping jack where your hands go up over your head and your legs go out to the sides. Then when you [land from] that position, squat down into a seated position almost like you're going to sit in a chair. Then explosively jump back up into another jumping jack, then immediately come back into a squat."

Mountain Climbers: "Start out doing floor pushups. In the pushup position, draw one knee in and then bring it back out, so you're alternating, kind of running in place, but you're on the ground with your arms in a pushup position fully straight. So you're just drawing your knees into your chest, almost like you're running."

Walk on an Incline: "Try walking on the treadmill at the highest incline, because that really works your butt… it's good for a lot of people who aren't comfortable with running, but want to get their heart rates up."

And stop worrying about cellulite! Says Dr. Benabio, "Cellulite is in fact normal and is considered a normal sexual characteristic of women, like breast development." As long as you get into some healthy habits, there's no need to drop loads of cash on clothes, creams or in-office treatments. Make peace with your body, so you can spend more time enjoying yourself and (maybe) less time squeezing into compression shorts.

Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Kathryn H. Cusimano is an assistant editor at BettyConfidential.

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