Getting Rid of Cellulite

At the height of swimsuit season there's a common problem that plagues women: cellulite -- that cottage cheesy skin that dimples the thighs and back sides of women of all shapes, sizes and weight.

Some 90 percent of women have cellulite. Even thin and physically fit stars like Pamela Anderson, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and Nicole Kidman have it.

"It actually can affect you whether you're thin or you're heavy," said Jacqui Stafford, the style director at Shape magazine.

American women spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on sucking machines, French creams, even anti-cellulite jeans, hoping to rid themselves of those unsightly skin dimples. They'll undergo treatments that include everything from the plastic wrap trick, to zapping electric currents into trouble spots.

What Is It, and How Do You Treat It?

To understand what cellulite is, you need to understand a bit about the musculature and fatty tissues beneath your skin.

If you look at a cross section of a woman's thigh, you'll see tight fiber bands connecting muscle through the fat to the skin. Where the bands aren't attached, the fat bulges up, creating the classic rippling effect of cellulite. Men generally don't have the problem because their fibers criss-cross and the fat can't bulge up as easily.

With so many options for treating cellulite, how do you pick the right one?

"20/20" conducted its own unscientific experiment and put some of the anti-cellulite treatments to the test. Jessica, a photo editor at Star magazine, and two of her colleagues, Elaine and Stacey, tried three of the newest anti-cellulite treatments for one month. The three women all battle a common enemy: lumpy thighs.

Dr. David Bank, director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, N.Y., evaluated the women's trouble spots.

"Stacey has a mild to moderate amount in predominantly her buttock area and a little bit on her thighs. Jessica has a slightly more moderate amount. And Elaine has a very mild early case," he said.

Jessica agreed to try the latest in high-tech cellulite busting: triactive laser dermology. This treatment uses both lasers and massage to attack cellulite, said spa owner Evie Cuellar.

"It actually penetrates the surface of the skin to create better microcirculation in order to break up the fatty deposits," Cuellar said.

Jessica described the procedure as "soothing."

But it's not cheap. Each session costs $100 and a minimum of 15 sessions is recommended.

Elaine tried out shoes that some say make reducing your cellulite as easy as a walk in the park. The shoes are supposed to increase muscle activity and circulation which the manufacturer claims may help reduce cellulite.

Her sandals from MBT cost $235.

Stacy gets the newest creation from the "healing garden," a beauty and wellness product company. For just $13 you get a bottle of mousse and a promise.

In four weeks, the product supposedly reduces dimpled skin by 46 percent.

For one month, the women slathered, strolled and stimulated and "20/20" met up with them to check out the results.

Did It Work?

In Stacey's outer thighs it appeared there was no change whatsoever.

So, what about the 46 percent improvement that the label promised? The manufacturer wouldn't give "20/20" an interview. Instead, it sent this statement: "Our anti-cellulite product ... has been extensively tested in clinical studies…"

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