The first rule of cellulite club is: decide whether you care about it or not. The most effective treatment is to not give it a second thought and get on with your life; it’s also the cheapest. This is not a rule I am ready to obey.

Cellulite affects up to 95 per cent of women worldwide, with contributing factors including genetics, hormone fluctuations, ageing – and nebulous “lifestyle factors” such as not drinking enough water or a sedentary lifestyle. It’s been nine months since I embarked on my mission to banish mine. On a scale of zero to 10, I would self-diagnose my cellulite as an eight. I have struggled with my peau d’orange since my teens, but it has become worse with age and the births of each of my three children. At 41, I’d like to wear shorts and a swimsuit without feeling self-conscious. 

How and why women have come to hate their cellulite is another article altogether – I defer to Jessica DeFino’s acerbic newsletter The Unpublishable on this. Suffice to say, Barbie gasps in horror at seeing her thigh dimples in the Greta Gerwig movie. Weird Barbie breaks the bad news: “That’s cellulite. That’s going to spread everywhere. Then you’re going to start getting sad and mushy and complicated.”

“Cellulite is not about fat or being overweight, it’s about lymph flow,” explains Kate Shapland, who founded Legology in 2015, frustrated by the lack of products addressing cellulite. “The lymph exists to take away excess waste and fluid, but doesn’t have a pump, like the heart. It only moves when you move. If you spend a lot of your time sitting down, that waste collects around your fat cells, pushes them out of alignment and creates the dimples on the surface of your skin. And the collagen fibres that run between the cells get tighter and pull down like an anchor so it all gets bumpy.” 

Shapland takes me in hand with her Legology 360° Cellulite Plan (from £99 a month), a lymph-focused programme of products and body brushing, 10,000 daily steps, a 1.5-litre water intake and a high-protein, low-carb nutrition plan. The morning routine is akin to a part-time job. I apply Cellu-Lite Targeted Oil daily from knee to hip, dry body brush from my extremities to my heart (“Quick flicks, not hard massaging, with a bit extra behind your knees – lots of lymph nodes here”) then apply Air-Lite to each leg and Peach-Lite to my derrière. Once a week I use Legology Exfo-lite dry salt scrub, my favourite product by far, for its glow. 

A clinical trial of Air-Lite reported that 91 per cent of women found the product “helped to reduce the visibility of imperfections caused by cellulite and saw noticeable differences in six weeks”. The same is true for me, plus I enjoy the healthier habits I form as part of the plan. 

The tools

Goop GTox Ultimate dry brush, £22, net-

Goop GTox Ultimate dry brush, £22, net-

LYMA laser, £1,999

LYMA laser, £1,999

NuBODY by NuFACE microcurrent skin-toning device, £383,

NuBODY by NuFACE microcurrent skin-toning device, £383,

My cellulite now at a seven, I move onto the at-home devices, which require dedication and time. NuBODY by NuFACE, an FDA-approved microcurrent skin-toning device, initially requires daily treatment for 60 days. The much-hyped LYMA laser’s diameter of 3cm, perfect for the face, makes for slow progress on both thighs and buttocks; it takes me at least an hour a day, which I need to do for 12 weeks. I wonder if I care about my cellulite enough to sacrifice seven hours a week for it? There is some improvement, but it’s not significant enough for me. 

“I think if you’re going to get rid of it, you’ll probably need a bit of an aesthetician’s intervention,” says nutritionist and model Rosemary Ferguson, who belongs to the fortunate five per cent of people who seem to have no cellulite at all. “It’s annoying, I’m sorry,” she says of her smooth limbs. “Cellulite is often genetic; my mum doesn’t have any either.”

Ferguson recommends increased movement “to get the blood pumping and the lymph moving”, and daily dry body brushing, much like the Legology plan. On her advice, I also add 30-second cycles of cold and hot water to my morning shower and start taking Ancient + Brave True Collagen (£27) and a high-strength vitamin C. (I can’t tell if they are working, but I still take them anyway.)

My first in-clinic experience is the Radio Frequency Body Ritual at Augustinus Bader’s The Skin Lab (a joint venture with the Lanserhof clinic) in Mayfair, where what look like giant shin pads are placed over my thighs and abdomen; these emit pulsed electromagnetic waves for 45 minutes while I’m scrubbed and massaged.  In theory, a “micro-trauma provoked by the radio-frequency technology stimulates a cell renewal process in the tissue”, says Professor Bader. A course of eight weekly treatments, with follow-ups once a month, is recommended. After one treatment my skin is smooth but my cellulite remains the same. I wonder if such a gentle treatment will achieve the dramatic results I’m after.

“If it hurts, it works,” says aesthetic therapist Isabelle Welling as I lie under a towel in The Wellness Clinic at Harrods. I’m here to try the Morpheus8 3D, which delivers “minimally invasive” micro-needling at three depths, plus fractional radiofrequency. Already used as a popular procedure to treat facial laxity and ageing, Morpheus8 3D targets deeper layers of the skin and subdermal adipose tissue than were previously believed accessible without surgery. 

Photos are taken of my legs and buttocks. It is decided that the focus of treatment should be my “banana roll” – the crescent-shaped bulge of fat that collects just under the buttocks. “We want to smooth the look of your thigh without taking away the curve of your body,” she explains. A course of three sessions spaced four to six weeks apart is prescribed.

“Cellulite is notoriously difficult to shift,” adds Dr Costas Papageorgiou, Harrods’ lead aesthetics expert and surgeon, who pops into the consultation. “There is no singular modality that can resolve this. In an ideal scenario I would start with the whole course of Morpheus8 3D, allow four or five months for the area to settle and remodel, then we go on to fine-tune” – injecting fillers into any remaining dimples.

Morpheus8 3D’s reputation of being exceptionally painful is confirmed when Welling hands me a cocktail of paracetamol and ibuprofen, with a chaser of diazepam, before applying two layers of numbing cream. The sensation is akin to being punctured with 40 staples. I am “stapled” approximately 120 times for a total of 20 minutes. I lose the ability to count as the first needles reach a depth of 5mm. Welling doesn’t reassure me: “I like to do the most painful and sensitive part first.” 

The products

Ancient + Brave True Collagen, £27

Ancient + Brave True Collagen, £27

Nuchido TIME+, £65 for a 30-day supply

Nuchido TIME+, £65 for a 30-day supply

Quicksilver Liposomal vitamin C, £49.95 for 120ml,

Quicksilver Liposomal vitamin C, £49.95 for 120ml,

Augustinus Bader The Body Cream, £145 for 200ml,

Legology Exfo-lite dry salt scrub,

Morpheus8 3D on my inner thigh is in the realms of childbirth without drugs. I had two children after my first; I will not be returning for a second or third session of Morpheus8 3D. Treating the whole area would demand the sort of time, financial investment and level of pain that even cellulite-free legs would not be worth.  

After treatment, more photographs are taken, which reveal small and angry red rectangles of micro dots across the backs of my thighs. The pain has completely gone. The next day, a hot shower stings and a week later the skin is itchy as the dots heal.

In Milton Keynes, aesthetician Nilam Holmes is between trips to treat clients including Kate Moss, Eva Mendes, Eva Longoria, both Beckhams and Nicole Scherzinger. “How did you find the Morpheus?” she asks. “We offer it for the face, but for the body I find it’s not enough for a large area. It does work, but it’s better if you target the banana roll or the knees than treating cellulite.” I am bracing myself for EMtone shockwave therapy, a non-invasive cellulite reduction treatment on my thighs and buttocks (one that Holmes described, moments before, as “a bulldozer that sounds like a drill”). She takes photographs of my legs and bum from every angle. According to her metrics, Holmes declares my cellulite score a two out of three, with some areas of three. 

“Can you get rid of cellulite completely?” I ask Holmes. “No,” she answers, “but you can improve the look of it.” 

Holmes’s “go-to” for treating cellulite combines two painless, non-invasive treatments: EMTone shockwave therapy to break down the hardened lumps, remodel the fatty tissue and soften the strong connective fibres that pull the skin inwards causing dimples; and Exion radio frequency and ultrasound for skin tightening (“like Spanx over the top”). Holmes also recommends taking NAD+ supplements daily, such as Nuchido TIME+, for maintaining cellular health.

Long gone are pampering treatments, explains Holmes of her machine-based bodywork. “Everyone wants results and value for money.” Many of her clients fly her out to work with them on set or at home, using machines that they have bought for Holmes to use. 

“Usually, within about four to six sessions, we can take you down a grade of cellulite on the zero-to-three scale,” she says. Holmes prescribes two courses of six weekly sessions with a four-week break, followed by maintenance every one to three months. Forever? “Forever, really,” Holmes replies. “Because you’re going to retoxify your body, aren’t you? And you’re ageing all the time.” 

The first course of six sessions (from £250 each) are physically intense but not painful. I self-diagnose my cellulite a four. So it hasn’t disappeared, but I now know that’s near impossible. Instead, I embark upon a maintenance plan to keep the lymph moving with morning body brushing, a cold cycle in my morning shower, collagen, vitamin C and NAD+ supplements, and Legology products. In a dream world I’d keep seeing Holmes for maintenance sessions of EMTone and Exion. 

“Nine times out of 10, even if clients haven’t completely got rid of cellulite, they’ve got to a point where it just doesn’t matter any more,” says Shapland, who remains dubious about treatments that disturb the lymph, favouring manual massage. “But not caring is the point you want to get to. That’s nirvana for most women.” 

My legs may not be perfect, but they are a great deal improved – not least because they’re so buffed, what with all the brushing. Besides, I’ve realised I don’t care quite enough to endure physical pain, fillers or any other procedure that takes up too significant a chunk of my life. Maybe I need to rethink the first rule of cellulite club after all.

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