Cellulite is more visible than fat deeper in the body. It affects both thin and overweight people because everyone has layers of fat that sit just below the skin’s surface. Collagen fibers that connect a person’s fat to her skin can break down or pull tight, creating the rippled look called cellulite, advises the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Many people seek a "cure" for cellulite, but most in the medical community don’t view the condition as a disorder. In fact, it is considered a normal condition. Nonetheless, people often go to spas seeking solutions. One spa option is galvanic cellulite treatment. Devices for this treatment also are sold for home use.
Proponents of galvanic cellulite treatment say that it can help melt away areas of cellulite and stubborn deposits of fatty tissue, partly by enhancing the effects of topical anti-cellulite products. The treatment also is meant to disperse fluid retention, improve skin condition, stimulate blood circulation and encourage lymph circulation and drainage.
Direct currents are used in body galvanism treatment for cellulite. A pair of electrodes produce polar and interpolar effects, which means active and passive electrodes “push” and “pull” electrically-charged cellulite products into a person’s skin, according to Jeanine Connor’s book, “BTEC National Beauty Therapy Sciences.” Connor notes that most cellulite products are negatively charged.
When a person undergoes galvanic cellulite treatment, the active pad is put on the area of cellulite while the passive pad is put on an area lower on the body. The passive pad acts like a magnet to draw cellulite products into the skin, according to Connor. This treatment is most effective when used in conjunction with diet and exercise, she notes.
Galvanic treatments are available in spas, and the cost can reach several hundred dollars per treatment. Galvanic devices also are sold for home use, sometimes at a price close to or equal that of a spa treatment session. Manufacturers of home devices call them the “iPod" of the skin-care industry and report that sales are brisk. For example, Galvanic.com reports that sales of their galvanic devices in the United States and Europe increased to 60,000 units in January 2008, up from 4,000 units the January before.
Galvanic treatment should not be used in areas of skin were there are open abrasions, sunburn, inflammation, stings or during the first couple of days of menstruation. People who have diabetic conditions or other conditions that lead to defective circulation or loss of sensitivity to heat also should avoid galvanic treatment for cellulite. People who have any history of nervous disorders or any history of nerve damage such as a a pinched nerve should consult with a doctor and seek medical approval before utilizing galvanic treatment, advises Ann Gallant, author of “Body Treatments and Dietetics for the Beauty Therapist.” Pregnant women, people who have metal pins or plates, people with recent scars and people who have low blood pressure should avoid treatment as well.
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Linda Tarr Kent is a reporter and editor with more than 20 years experience at Gannett Company Inc., The McClatchy Company, Sound Publishing Inc., Mach Publishing, MomFit The Movement and other companies. Her area of expertise is health and fitness. She is a Bosu fitness and stand-up paddle surfing instructor. Kent holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Washington State University.