Massage Guns and Cellulite: Do They Actually Work?

published by: Debbie Luna
Last Updated:
February 28, 2022

Cellulite or adiposis edematosa is the herniation of subcutaneous adipose tissue depositions, usually along the lower bikini area, legs, and the abdomen in overweight or formerly overweight individuals. This will likely impart the appearance of dimpling or bumpiness beneath the surface of the skin, especially in members of the post-pubertal population.

Despite the lack of clinical significance of this particular adipose tissue condition, many individuals find it to be aesthetically unpleasant and may wish to remedy it through the use of non-invasive methods, among one of which is the use of massage guns and similar instruments.

The use of massage guns for the treatment and management of cellulite formation in the body has received some level of academic attention over the past decade, with the general sentiment being that a minor improvement in the appearance of cellulite can be achieved through regular and thorough use of massage guns.

What is a Massage Gun?

The concept of a massage gun is usually that of a handheld device meant to impart some level of vibratory force to a targeted area of the body, with certain models being capable of also acting in a pounding or thrusting motion so as to add to the effect of the vibratory massage therapy.

massage gun

The particular strength of these massage motions can depend on the brand and model of the particular massage gun being used, with certain types of massage guns proving a more rapid and direct form of vibration and pulsation, meant to be used for deep tissue massage therapy, while others provide a softer and more gentle motion such as the type used for surface muscle soreness in physical rehabilitation programs.

What Causes Cellulite?

The particular cause of cellulite is quite hotly debated and a nearly incalculable number of reasons have been pinned down, such as basic hormonal changes like one would see in puberty or menopause, or the increase in adipose tissue volume through excessive caloric intake, or even the fact that it may be simple hereditary characteristics.

Regardless of the particular reasoning behind the development of cellulite in the tissues of an individual, the general consensus of the academic and medical community is that cellulite is a physiological condition rather than a pathological one, and is rarely due to a single reason if any.

In terms of prevalence among the population, it was found that as many as 98% of women develop some form of cellulite during their lifetime, especially in the pelvic region where larger volumes of fat deposition may be found.

Do Massage Guns Help Break Up Cellulite?

massage gun gluteus

Due to the fact that the majority of medical treatments geared towards individuals with cellulite are generally invasive, apart from rather expensive specialized services, it is no surprise that many people turn to alternative forms of treatment in the hopes of improving the appearance of their cellulite.

Among these is the usage of vibrations so as to stimulate the tissue deeply enough in the hopes of breaking up the cellulite fibers, thereby reducing or entirely removing their cellulite.

This, however, is not entirely true, and may not in fact be possible with the sort of vibrations produced through most household massage guns or similar devices.

The sort of benefits accrued from vibrations and vibration producing devices such as massage guns generally cause an improvement in the aesthetic appearance of cellulite by way of altering the flow of venous fluids and other liquids through the collagen tissues found in cellulite dimples.

Depending on the individual and the severity of their cellulite, this can have any sort of effect from simply altering the color of the dimples to causing a moderate improvement in appearance as fluids built up within and around the dimples are displaced temporarily.

It is important for individuals to keep in mind that this particular effect is temporary at best, and does not apply to all cases of cellulite, though the usage of vibrations and massage guns in the treatment of cellulite can work quite well in tandem with such things like weight loss and more direct cellulite treatments.

How Often Should Massage Guns be Used on Cellulite?

Though the majority of studies into the particular matter of using massage guns to treat cellulite have widely varying lengths of time in which the subjects utilized said massage guns, most generally involved the patients doing so for at least five weeks at a time.

In terms of frequency, the majority of individuals – primarily women approximately 21.5 years old- utilized the massage guns to induce localized massage therapy on their cellulite five times a week for anywhere between thirty to sixty minutes at a time.

These studies wherein the individuals noted a distinct reduction in the mass and appearance of their cellulite pockets had, on average, the experimental group undergo at least ten separate massage gun therapy sessions prior to the cessation of said treatments and subsequent analysis of data gathered.

What can be inferred from this sort of information is that the majority of individuals wishing to treat their cellulite with a massage gun or similar device should do so approximately four to five times a week for approximately a month at a minimum length of at least thirty minutes at a time.

It is best, of course, to tailor this sort of treatment for oneself, and to always first consult a physician prior to doing so, as massage guns possess their own accompanying drawbacks and dangers, especially if used in the improper manner or by unsuitable individuals.

Why Do Massage Guns Help Reduce the Appearance of Cellulite?

Massage guns primarily work through the displacement of fluid in and around the tissue being targeted by the implement, reducing myo-fascial pressure and breaking up muscle fiber adhesion knots by shunting fluid through and around the fibers.

This is also applicable to the fibers that make up cellulite, of which are mainly collagen and subcutaneous fat depositions subsequently.

By extension of this bodily fluid displacement by way of pulsating force and vibrations imparted through massage guns, the sort of fluid that builds up within said fibrous collagen tissue as well as within the fat deposition pockets themselves will cause a marked improvement in their aesthetic appearance due to a reduction in their size and color.

When combined with more invasive treatment therapies, a suitable exercise routine and a diet geared towards a reduction in bodily fat composition, massage guns can be an excellent supplementary device for reducing the appearance of cellulite – albeit a temporary one, if used on their own.

Are the Cellulite Appearance Reduction Benefits from Massage Guns Always Temporary?

Despite a large volume of evidence showing that cessation of massage gun treatment to areas afflicted with cellulite will result in a subsequent cessation of improvements, there is some small evidence that performing this treatment for a long enough period can in fact induce more permanent improvements.

In a rather impressive study conducted by the proDERM Institute of Applied Dermatological Research based in Germany, it was found that – even in comparison to a secondary control group- women utilizing over twelve weeks of continuous localized vibrational massage therapy through the use of a massage device experienced some level of permanent reduction in the size and appearance of their cellulite deposits.

Whether this is due to some external factor unrelated to the use of massage guns or entirely because of their use is unclear for the most part, but the very fact that this is possible without the use of more invasive procedures has been demonstrated at a statistically significant echelon within a clinical setting, potentially giving hope to many sufferers of cellulite.

References

1. Cristovam DN, Botelho S, Andrade MF, Marques J, Sousa L. Whole-body vibration in the reduction of the cellulite. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2019 Aug;21(5):278-285. doi: 10.1080/14764172.2018.1525750. Epub 2018 Oct 9. PMID: 30300017.

2. Sadowski T, Bielfeldt S, Wilhelm KP, Sukopp S, Gordon C. Objective and subjective reduction of cellulite volume using a localized vibrational massage device in a 24-week randomized intra-individual single-blind regression study. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2020;42(3):277-288. doi:10.1111/ics.12613

3. Rossi, Ana Beatris R; Vergnanini, Andre Luiz (2000). "Cellulite: A review". Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 14 (4): 251–62. doi:10.1046/j.1468-3083.2000.00016.x. PMID 11204512. S2CID 18504078.

4. Juhász M, Korta D, Mesinkovska NA (2018). "A Review of the Use of Ultrasound for Skin Tightening, Body Contouring, and Cellulite Reduction in Dermatology". Dermatol Surg. 44 (7): 949–963. doi:10.1097/DSS.0000000000001551

Debbie (Deb) started powerlifting and Olympic lifting in High School as part of her track team's programming; She continues to train in order to remain athletic. Inspire US allows Deb to share information related to training, lifting, biomechanics, and more.
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