LOVE YOUR LEGS
Yes, you really can step out with confidence this spring! Our experts show you how
Q What’s the best way to ditch stretch marks?
A Complete removal is never guaranteed and for many people stretch marks are just a part of their body. There are laser removal treatments for stretch marks but these do tend to only lessen the appearance not remove them completely. You can reduce their appearance by dry bodybrushing once a day and using a weekly coffee scrub. I love Atom Coffee Body Scrub ($21, kindredtoxinfreefacials.com.au), which has a natural AHA in the added citrus oil and coffee to stimulate the skin. Then follow up with Erica Brooke Detox Body Oil ($50, ericabrooke. com.au). If a client is pregnant, I’ll often recommend using Metta Vanilla Body Butter, ($34, kindredtoxinfreefacials.com.au). To prevent more stretch marks from developing, incorporate essential fats into your daily diet – think salmon, avocado, nuts – or take a supplement with all the essential fats to increase collagen in your skin, and drink lots of water.
Q Should I stop crossing my legs to prevent varicose veins?
A No – it doesn’t cause varicose veins. Up to 40 per cent of Aussies will experience varicose veins during their lifetime and genetics plays the biggest role in determining if you’ll get them. If your mum has them, your chances are about 40 per cent, while if both parents have them, the likelihood of you developing them increases to at least 70 per cent. The secondary cause is lifestyle factors, such as prolonged standing – nurses, chefs, hairdressers or factory workers are more likely to develop varicose veins – and obesity. Increased oestrogen levels may also play a role, as some women will notice a few pop up if they’re taking the contraceptive pill or during pregnancy. If you’re prone to getting them, I’d recommend wearing compression stockings, especially on long-distance flights, and staying well hydrated. Exercises will help with circulation but it won’t stop varicose veins from forming. Ask your pharmacist about medication known as “venotonics”, which can help tone veins and minimise symptoms such as aching, however, they won’t affect the appearance of the varicose veins.
“If both of your parents have varicose veins, your chances of developing them are 70 per cent”
Q How can I get rid of varicose veins?
A Non-surgical treatments are the gold standard, particularly endovenous laser therapy. This gently seals the vein by applying thermal energy, which causes the vein to scar and after a period of time the body resorbs the vein and it disappears. This laser procedure is about 98 per cent effective over five years and doesn’t have the associated risks of surgery. Endovenous laser treatments are undertaken at specialised clinics and cost between $3000 and $4000 (after Medicare rebates) for a full treatment plan, including scans and follow-up consultations. Most patients see results within a few weeks. The important thing to understand is you can’t judge the severity of the varicose veins just by looking at them, so I’d encourage patients to get an ultrasound scan to check. Even if you have a consultation and get the scan done, you can obviously decide not to go ahead with treatment but at least you’ll know how bad your varicose veins are. When left untreated, varicose veins can progress to complications such as swelling, aching and throbbing, ulcers, deep venous thrombosis and skin pigmentation, so it’s best to consult your GP.
Q Do coffee products work on cellulite?
A No, in my opinion, coffee doesn’t work to remove cellulite and is actually better on the inside than the outside. In fact, drinking coffee boosts metabolism, especially pre-exercise, burning more free fatty acids and helping with weight loss and creating a leaner body – so in that way it may help with cellulite. In general, topical agents tend not to help with cellulite, except fake tan, which can minimise the appearance. What does work is losing weight and increasing muscle strength and tone in the legs as this strengthens and tightens the underlying support. Cellulite is difficult to ‘cure’. It’s an anatomical defect, due to the skin being tethered by fibrous septae to the underlying muscle layer. This tethering creates the indentations and surface irregularities on the skin’s surface. It’s mainly genetic, made worse by weight gain as it exacerbates the puckering by increasing the volume in the fat compartments. Some skintightening radio-frequency laser treatments may help soften the appearance of cellulite but multiple treatments are usually required and the cost for several sessions starts at about $2000. It works by melting fat and tightening the fibrous septae, therefore reducing the drag on the outer skin layer, making it look smoother and less like cellulite.
Q Is there any way to prevent age spots?
A Age spots, or liver spots, occur due to excess melanin. This can be caused by UV light (which increases melanin production) and excessive sun exposure. So the way to prevent these spots comes down to avoiding the sun in the hottest parts of the day and using an SPF 30+ sunscreen. If you prefer a natural option, try Simple As That Natural Sunscreen Lotion ($29.95, simpleasthat.com.au).
Q Can I use apple cider vinegar at home to reduce the appearance of age spots?
A Yes, you can, thanks to the natural acid in apple cider vinegar and in fruits such as lemon and papaya. As an at-home treatment, do a patch test with the apple cider vinegar first and wait 1-2 minutes to see how it feels. If it’s fine, apply it twice daily on clean skin using a cotton pad. Leave it on for 30 minutes then rinse with warm water. It usually takes six weeks to see a result. If you have sensitive skin, use half water, half apple cider vinegar. Some beauty salons also offer natural peels with papaya and pineapple enzymes. For people wanting medical options – via a qualified skin therapist or doctor – products and treatments such as bleaching creams or laser treatments can fade the spots gradually. These treatments make skin more sensitive to UV damage so it’s vital to wear sunscreen. And always see your GP if anything looks suspicious.
Q What’s the best exercise for toning legs?
A Running. I’m not saying you have to run 10km straight away but you could start by doing intervals where you walk for 1 minute, then jog for 1 minute, and gradually build up to the point where you walk for 1 minute and jog for 2 minutes. Running is one of the best ways to shape up your legs, no question. Need extra motivation? Sign up for a fun run to give yourself something to aim towards.
Q What are the best resistance moves?
A Squats! Start by doing bodyweight squats, then once you’ve built strength, do them with weights. Walking or static lunges are another great exercise to add to your repertoire. Again, your own bodyweight is fine to begin with, gradually building up to the point where you can do it with weights, whether that’s dumbbells or a barbell across your back. The last exercise is a step-up: Find a step or a low bench you can step up and down on. No equipment is necessary unless you want to challenge yourself by holding dumbbells, a medicine ball or with a barbell across your back. These three moves are fantastic exercises to really shape up and tone your thighs, bum, glutes, and inner and outer thighs.
Q How can I shift stubborn fat from my thighs through diet?
A While you can’t spot-reduce fat on your body (that would be like trying to use the petrol from one side of your petrol tank first!), you can reduce the overall amount of body fat by making small changes to your diet:
1 Reduce the kilojoules through the amount you eat. Have an omelette for breakfast, an open sandwich (so one slice of bread) for lunch and eat a half serve of dinner to reduce your energy intake.
2 Have a week that’s free of added sugar and alcohol. You’d be surprised by how many excess kilojoules come from sugarladen foods and alcoholic drinks.
3 Include a salad or a serve of vegies at each meal and snack. They’re low in salt and kilojoules so will help boost metabolism and burn fat.