Cellulite cupping is a type of non-invasive therapy said to reduce the appearance of cellulite. It involves creating and trapping a vacuum inside small cups, which are placed on the area where cellulite appears. Aside from cellulite reduction, other benefits of cellulite cupping may also include improved blood circulation, ease from muscle and joint pains, and overall detoxification. The therapy is widely offered in massage and spa centers all over the world.
The method of cellulite cupping is actually a very ancient branch of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), but it has also been used in different cultures, as proven by Egyptian medical documents dated to 1500 BC. The principles behind the Chinese cupping method are very similar to that of acupuncture, as the cups are positioned on different pressure points of the body, just like how needles are inserted in different places. This will stimulate a freer flow of “qi” or energy in the body to remedy many illnesses and conditions, such as formation of cellulite. Traditionally, the Chinese used animal horns and bamboo as materials to make cups, but many present-day spas use plastic, glass, or silicone cups, as the materials are less porous and, therefore, trap the vacuum more effectively.
To create a vacuum, a therapist can introduce heat to the glass cups by lighting an alcohol-soaked cotton ball. The glass cups are placed over the small fire to trap the heat and are immediately placed on the skin. The pressure created by the heat will create suction and help the glass cups fix themselves on the skin. Silicone and plastic cups specifically used for cellulite cupping are usually made with suction pumps, just like in medicine droppers. The pump is initially squeezed and released after the cup is placed on the skin.
There are generally two types of cellulite cupping: the stationary and the sliding cupping. In stationary cupping, the cups are fixed on a particular area for a period of time, probably 15 minutes at most. Depending on the need or the request of the patient, a session of acupuncture can be done before the cupping, and the cups are placed over the inserted needles in the body. Stationary cupping usually leaves red circular marks or bruises called “squid bruises” as the blood and fluid are pulled out of the area and are naturally and equally distributed to the body. The bruises can last for a few days up to a week, depending on how long the cups are left on the skin.
The sliding-type of cellulite cupping involves moving or “sliding” the cups on the skin surface. To help the cups slide smoothly, a small quantity of massage oil can be rubbed on the body before applying the cups. The cups are then slowly moved around the surface until the therapy session is finished.