Thursday 13th October, 2022

Do massage guns help cellulite?

Using massage gun on thigh
Massage guns don't really help cellulite. We'll show you a better way you can do yourself.

Massage gun marketers make a lot of claims that their machines help reduce cellulite, but do they? The reality is that for all practical purposes massage guns do not help reduce cellulite, many of their claims are bogus, and if you follow their advice you risk hurting yourself.

The good news is that there are much easier, safer and more effective alternatives you can do yourself, which we’ll tell you about. To help you safely get good results we will:

The massage gun claims

Cellulite and normal skin
The fat cells are strongly encased in connective tissue pouches, so claims that they are spread, dispersed or smashed up are totally bogus

Breaking up and redistributing fat cells

Most of the massage gun marketing we found claim that massage guns re-distribute or break up fat cells. This picture of cellulite tissues shows that the fat cells are well encased in connective tissue pouches, so there is no way they are going to move around and get re-distributed. Further, the fat cells would be a lot more sturdy than other tissues such as the fine blood vessels, so anything that that would break fat cells up would cause massive trauma and internal bleeding.

Apart from being fraudulent, these irresponsible claims cause people to damage themselves trying. In one case a person using a massage gun nearly died from the internal bleeding (10).

Helping drain excess fluids

Massage gun marketers sometimes claim their machines help the lymphatic system drain fluid. They probably do help this a bit, but any improvements are likely temporary and there better ways of doing this.

The vibrations help increase circulation

This is the only claim that has decent scientific merit, but because massage guns are designed to punch their heads into the muscles they are poor at delivering these therapeutic vibrations.

Percussion vs vibration massage

Why massage guns are poor at delivering vibrations

To illustrate this consider the two machines pictured. The first is a vibrating compactor. They are designed to send massive amounts of vibrations deep into the ground while barely scratching the surface. The jackhammer still vibrates, but it uses those vibrations to drive it’s head into the ground. They are excellent for smashing things, but only vibrate the ground a fraction of the amount. Massage guns are like the jackhammers.

Better alternatives for vibrations

There are far better alternatives for delivering vibrations to increase circulation. As discussed later the best option is a therapeutic vibration massager, but even a massage chair, vibrating massage cushion or a vibration plate that people exercise on would be a far better option.

The easy way to reduce cellulite that actually does work

In the section below we go over the equipment and techniques you can use yourself that are safe and do work, including the "how to" and a summary of the research. However, you might like to check out this quick video demonstration first.


As discussed in our article Does vibration get rid of cellulite, the scientifically proven way to reduce cellulite is by increasing circulation. Scientists have found that the main cause of cellulite is a reduction of circulation in those tissues (1). When your body needs energy it uses fat from parts of your body with better circulation, and leaves the fat in the cellulite tissues. The way the clinical trials successfully used massage or vibration massage was by using repeated applications over time to improve circulation in the cellulite tissues, allowing the excess fat to be gradually be reabsorbed.

What you can do

As you can see in the summary of these trials (below) the scientists who conducted them used a variety of ways to help circulation. These included three types of conventional massage, using massage chairs, and resting the part on one of those vibration plates used for exercising. The massages/vibrations were applied daily or several times a week over long periods of time.

If you have a piece of equipment like that or access to regular massages please check out what they did in the trials and it should help. If not, what we will do now is use our knowledge of the science of massage, vibration and circulation to put together what we believe will be your easiest and best options.

Your ideal equipment and how to use it

  1. The equipment
  2. How to apply the massage

The equipment

From the science of vibration massage we know that the most effective way to apply vibration is by using a tool that applies vibrations directly to the tissues. We also know that the best frequency to increase circulation is around 50 hz (cycles per second). Therefore, you will need a professional standard vibration massager capable of delivering 50 hz vibrations.

Unfortunately a lot of massagers marketed to consumers are very poor, and as discussed percussion massagers (massage guns) are not appropriate and potentially unsafe. To help you choose an effective machine we have a separate article How to choose a massager. However, to help you out we’ll illustrate a few machines we believe would do a good job, then show you the machines we developed for the purpose.

The Ultimate Quad Head Massager being used
Our Ultimate Quad Head Massager is easy to use and gives strong quality therapeutic vibrations over a reasonable sized area.
The ideal solution

We make two hand held massagers that are easy to use and give excellent therapeutic vibrations. These are our General Purpose Massager and our Ultimate Quad Head Massager. Of these the quad head massager would be the ideal choice for cellulite massage.

  1. It is very easy to use
  2. It gives excellent quality therapeutic vibration
  3. With four strong vibration heads it can give quality massage to a larger area at a time, making it much quicker to treat all the areas that need it.

Read what professionals say about DrGraeme massagers

How to apply the massage

We have a few hints and precaution in our Vibration massage usage guide , but basically it is extremely simple. You just set the machine at about 50 hz and place the head of the massager on the part you wish to massage. The machine does all the work. There is no need to press in or rub as you would for conventional massage.

When and how long to apply the massage for

In the trials longer applications such as 30-60 minutes were used. However, it would be much more effective to use several applications a day of a few minutes each. The reason we say this is that studies show that when 50 hz vibration is applied the circulation will rise to the much higher level in about two minutes (2). When the vibration stops circulation gradually decreases back to normal over about 30 minutes. Therefore, each time you apply the massager for a few minutes you will get 30 minutes of residual increase in circulation.

Video: Dr Graeme demonstrating our massagers

Dr Graeme's comments

Extra development

In an earlier article I commented that those conducting the trials had used the less effective equipment market for cellulite, and that far better results would be had choosing equipment base on on the science of therapeutic vibrations. One of the researchers actually contacted me, and they are now evaluating our machines for future research.


DrGraeme massagers were originally built by Dr Graeme for use in his clinic, and to prescribe to his patients for additional self use at home. Now these are used by colleagues and other professionals for similar purposes. If you are a professional and wish to know more about this therapy, or possibly get a sample massager to trial please check out our practitioner page.

Appendix: summary of clinical trials using massage or vibration massage to treat cellulite

NOTE: You may need to scroll the table below left/right for more information


What they did




30 or 60 minutes vibration daily for three weeks

Reduced grading+ of cellulite


Used 17.5-46 Hz vibrations for 30 or 60 minutes a day for three weeks

Reduced grading+ of cellulite. Increased skin temperature

Sub optimal vibrations


15x 30 or 60 minutes locally applied 18-39 Hz

Reduced grading+ of cellulite, increased skin temperature

Sub optimal vibrations


24 weeks of using hand held vibration wand.

Visual improvement

Used a device marketed as a cellulite wand, but no where near a serious therapeutic device.


15 applications of 18-39 Hz vibration over three weeks.

Decreased symptoms. Increased skin hydration.

Sub optimal vibrations


4 weeks of 17.5-46.5 Hz vibrations

Decreased measurements for thighs, hips and waist

Vibrations only 0.5mm so extremely poor penetration


10 sessions of whole body vibration

Increased skin temperature


Tested three types of conventional massage++

All gave a reduction in sub-cutaneous fat

Professionals would likely combine all three for excellent results

+ Please see gradings below (reduced grading is better):
++ Types were i) Conventional massage, ii) manual lymphatic drainage, and iii) Connective tissue manipulations.

Grading cellulite

For research or description cellulite is graded as follows. Where the grades were reduced in the trials that means that the cellulite improved.

  • Grade 1 – you can’t see cellulite with the naked eye, but the changes on your skin are still going on microscopically.
  • Grade 2 – the skin shows paleness, lower temperature, and decreased elasticity after compression or muscular contraction. There is no visible “orange peel” roughness to the skin.
  • Grade 3 – this is when the lumps and bumps are starting to make themselves visible. Thin granulations in the deep levels of the skin can be detected by palpitation. All Grade 2 signs are present.
  • Grade 4 – more visible, palpable, and painful lumps are present, adhering to deep structures in the skin. The skin has a noticeable dimpled, wavy appearance. Additional microscopic changes are detected. Grade 4 signs are present, and cellulite is constantly visible to the patient.


  1. Piotrowska A, Czerwińska-Ledwig O, Stefańska M, Pałka T, Maciejczyk M, Bujas P, et al. Changes in Skin Microcirculation Resulting from Vibration Therapy in Women with Cellulite. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(6).
  2. Maloney-Hinds C, Petrofsky JS, Zimmerman G. The effect of 30 Hz vs. 50 Hz passive vibration and duration of vibration on skin blood flow in the arm. Med Sci Monit. 2008;14(3):CR112-6.
  3. Piotrowska A, Czerwińska-Ledwig O. Effect of local vibrotherapy in sitting or lying position in two time protocols on the cellulite grade and change of body circumferences in women with cellulite. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2022;21(5):2130–9.
  4. Pilch W, Czerwińska-Ledwig O, Chitryniewicz-Rostek J, Nastałek M, Krȩzałek P, Jȩdrychowska D, et al. The Impact of Vibration Therapy Interventions on Skin Condition and Skin Temperature Changes in Young Women with Lipodystrophy: A Pilot Study. Evidence-based Complement Altern Med. 2019;2019.
  5. 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):277–88.
  6. Piotrowska A, Czerwińska-Ledwig O. Effect of Three-Week Vibrotherapy on Selected Skin Parameters of Thighs and Buttocks in Women with Cellulite. Cosmetics. 2022;9(1).
  7. Pilch W, Nastałek M, Piotrowska A, Czerwińska-Ledwig O, Zuziak R, Maciorowska A, et al. The effects of a 4-week vibrotherapy programme on the reduction of adipose tissue in young women with cellulite – a pilot study. Rehabil Med. 2018;22(4):18–24.
  8. Cristovam DN, Botelho S, Andrade MF, Marques J, Sousa L. Whole-body vibration in the reduction of the cellulite. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2019;21(5):278–85.
  9. Bayrakci Tunay V, Akbayrak T, Bakar Y, Kayihan H, Ergun N. Effects of mechanical massage, manual lymphatic drainage and connective tissue manipulation techniques on fat mass in women with cellulite. J Eur Acad Dermatology Venereol. 2010;24(2):138–42.
  10. Chen J, et. al. Rhabdomyolysis After the Use of Percussion
    Massage Gun: A Case Report
    . Physical Therapy, 2021;101:1–5

We are continually adding more information on research and uses. Subscribe below to have us email them to you "hot off the press".

Dr Graeme

About Dr Graeme

Several years ago Dr Graeme, a Chiropractor practicing in Victoria, Australia was looking for a serious hand held massager his patients could use at home to get the extra quality massage they needed. The ones he found in the shops and on-line for home use looked nice but were not serious, and... read more

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