4 Different Ways to Conquer Nasty Cellulite

By Cheryl Wischhover

New York Magazine. The Cut. November 19, 2014

A supposed 80 percent of women have cellulite, myself included. "Love your flaws! Embrace who you are! Beauty is in the imperfection!" we all say. But blame magazines, overly Photoshopped images, and a lifelong hatred of cottage cheese: I want my cellulite gone. To see if anything could really help, I tried four different procedures for conquering cellulite.

Popular cellulite treatments run the gamut from gentle to borderline S&M. I tried four. And while I took plenty of before and after pictures during this month of treatments for my own analysis, I will not be sharing any #cellfies here. Sorry, I just can't. So, like that time I tried at-homelaser armpit-hair removal, you’ll have to take my word on the results.

Lymphatic drainage: This is one of the more common techniques recommended, particularly by French ladies. According to Dr. Shirley Madhere, lymphatic drainage can be effective for improving the appearance of cellulite because it can address any underlying fluid or circulation factors. She specifically recommends the Vodder technique, a type of manual lymphatic drainage developed by a doctor in — you guessed it — France. Laure Seguin, a lovely and soft-spoken Frenchwoman who trained with an acolyte of Dr. Vodder’s, does at-home lymphatic drainages. She is like the Uber of French cellulite reduction.  

She warned me that “it’s not like American massage.” You can’t do deep-tissue massages for the lymphatic system “because all the lymph ducts run right under the skin,” Seguin says. “So if you go deep on your skin, you cut off circulation.” The massage was quite gentle — more like a caress than a vigorous rubdown, because you need to coax the lymph along. All lymph vessels flow toward the heart, where they dump their contents into large lymphatic ducts, so the massage is done in strokes toward the heart.

It got weird when Seguin went for my belly. Because there are 800 to 1,200 lymph nodes in the abdomen and they’re buried pretty deep, you really have to get down in there to stimulate them. When my belly started gurgling, Seguin let out a happy sound and said, “It’s lovely! I love all this noise!” (Because it’s feedback that means all that prodding is working.)

Optimally, Seguin recommends lymphatic massage three times a week for three to four weeks, then twice a week until you start seeing strong improvement, then once a week, and then monthly for maintenance. She charges $170 per session, or offers a package of ten for $1,400. I only did one for the experience, and as she warned me, I didn’t see any improvement on the cellulite on my outer thighs. However, my belly was delightfully flat and non-bloated for a solid two days, thanks to the abdominal draining. But in general, lymphatic drainage is a high-maintenance and expensive habit, and one you have to keep up in order to continue to see results.