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Scala Bio-Fir Anti-Cellulite Pants: A Review

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 Posted by Travis Saunders


A few months back, Peter wrote a fantastic post on the Equmen Core Precision Undershirt, which is essentially a girdle for men. Somehow the ridiculousness of the shirt was only exceeded by its popularity on both sides of the Atlantic. Today we bring you an even more impressive product from the United Kingdom - pants which are reported to literally melt the fat off your legs!

The Scala Bio-Fir Anti-Cellulite Pants look like regular tights, but contain crystals which heat up on contact with the skin. Although somehow this heat remains undetectable to the wearer, the Daily Mail from the UK claims that this heat results in "[improved] circulation in the thighs, bottom and stomach, encouraging fat cells to 'melt' into a liquid" (emphasis added). That's right, heat that is so small that you can't feel it, yet is somehow powerful enough to melt your fat cells, while causing no damage whatsoever to muscle or other cells.

Now this might seem a little fantastical, but the Daily Mail includes a figure titled "Now for the science bit" which breaks it down for the skeptics.



Now I'm a bit embarrassed. You see, despite spending the past few years studying physiology, I had no idea that fat cells melted when exposed to undetectable heat/increased blood flow. I guess that means every time I go for a run, or a shower, or put on a pair of warm pants, my fat cells are melting into my bloodstream, where the fat is somehow excreted by my kidneys into my urine. Which explains all those fat droplets in your urine on a hot day.

But what if my skepticism is misplaced and these pants do cause fat cells to melt? Well, that could actually be very bad from a health perspective. Fat cells are meant to store fat, so they tend to do it pretty well and with minimum health risk, especially subcutaneous fat cells in the lower body. However, when these subcutaneous fat cells fill up, or when they somehow disappear (e.g. your pants cause them to melt) fat begins to overflow into the liver, heart, and skeletal muscle, causing all sorts of metabolic problems. This is exactly what happens to many individuals who receive Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy for HIV - they lose fat cells in the arms and legs, causing increased visceral and liver fat accumulation and severe metabolic dysfunction. So if the magic crystals in these pants do somehow cause your fat cells to melt, that could actually be a pretty big health concern.

As far as I can tell, the pants are currently only being carried in the UK, where they are said to be selling like hot cakes. They are being sold by John Lewis for £30 (~$50 USD), although pairs are now popping up on eBay for anyone in North America who is eager to have some magic pants of their own. Personally, if you're looking to spend $50 on your health I'd suggest a pedometer or a terrific book on healthy eating like Food Matters, but that's just my opinion. And if for some reason you desperately want to have pants that cause your legs to heat up, I suggest a nice pair of snow pants, which have been keeping us Canadians warm for centuries.

Hat tip to reader Kate Tolley for bringing this product to our attention.

Travis

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14 Response to "Scala Bio-Fir Anti-Cellulite Pants: A Review"

  1. Aaron Said,

    Even though the illustration says cells in a couple places, the ad cleverly obfuscates terms by saying it melts "fat layers". This plays to the people who didn't listen in high school biology and still think of fat as a layer of semi-solid butter under their skin. Add in that it takes at least a college level understanding of metabolism to know that releasing fat in the manner advertised would be dangerous and you've got a pretty large group of customers that can't argue with the science provided.

    Posted on November 24, 2009 at 11:26 AM

     
  2. Travis Saunders Said,

    @ Aaron,

    I agree with you 100%. The concept is absolutely ridiculous, but without a background in physiology it would probably seem at least somewhat plausible. I would suggest that most people with science degrees don't even realize that losing fat cells could actually increase your health risk - most people of all backgrounds assume that the less fat cells the better (although hopefully we're starting to convince a few people!).

    Travis

    Posted on November 24, 2009 at 11:40 AM

     
  3. Blake Said,

    Another great review from you guys! These scams, er, products always make me laugh. Sad that stuff like this sells like "hot cakes." Thanks for always providing great info here!

    Posted on November 25, 2009 at 11:43 AM

     
  4. Anonymous Said,

    I hear what you are saying guys, and being a student of nutritional medicine I know the basics of physiology. Unfortunately, if for am measely £30 you can reduce your cellulite - then I'm ashamed to say that I'll give it a try.

    I've been wearing them for 4 weeks and exercising and eating healthily. I've lost weight from the gym + the healthier diet. However I have to say that I have lost slightly more size off my thighs than I usually do by diet and exercise alone. Losing 2 pounds of weight on the scales usually equates to 0.5cm reduction in my thighs. Whereas I seem to be losing 1.0cm for every 3 pounds of weightloss. Not a huge difference, but I've been at this game long enough to know what's normal for me - and this more than I'd normally lose.

    Plus, it is Winter and freezing here in Scotland - so, to be honest I'm happy to be wearing something like long johns under my clothes.

    Eva

    Posted on December 3, 2009 at 5:51 PM

     
  5. Travis Saunders Said,

    @ Eva,

    I appreciate your personal experience, but I'm wondering if you can come up with a plausible mechanism for how these pants can melt your fat cells. Because from what I know, that just doesn't make any sense.

    Now the fact that the extra warmth helps in the cool weather - of that I have no doubt!

    Anyone else have personal experience with the Bio-Fir pants?

    Posted on December 3, 2009 at 10:01 PM

     
  6. Anonymous Said,

    @ Travis

    I think it's simply the result of a localised increase in circulation, to be honest. Nothing to do with 'melting' fat or any other pseudo-science. Cellulite is fat and water and toxic rubbish - and I think all the (very tight) tights do is massage the area as you move about, allowing your lymphatic system to dispose of what's released.

    My scales measure fat percentage as well as weight - and my fat percentage has gone down pretty similarly to what it normally would (via healthy diet + exercise) - perhaps a tiny bit more, but to be honest I couldn't say with confidence since I only lose fractions of a percent of fat per week anyway.

    All I am saying is that they do work (well, for me) but nowhere near the several inches they promote. However for someone who is obese or morbidly obese then perhaps the effect would be more pronounced. My BMI is around 22 (144lbs, 5'10") but I have chunky thighs that I hate and am willing to gamble £30 on a pair of tights to reduce them!

    Again, Eva

    Posted on December 4, 2009 at 7:07 AM

     
  7. Anonymous Said,

    I agree that the "science" in the DM article is ridiculous, but isn't the basic idea to increase circulation, which in turn reduces the appearance of cellulite? If so, than they aren't any different from the other anti-cellulite treatments currently on the market (creams, massage, etc.).

    In my experience, the fattier parts of the body tend to be colder to the touch (love handles, inner thigh, etc.). I also find that they get itchy during prolonged or intense cardio, which is presumably the result of increased blood circulation in those areas. (Slim to average men probably don't have this experience, but ask a woman with an average or slightly above average amount of body fat and she'll probably tell you the same thing.)

    Anyhow, I just got some of these and started wearing them today... very warm, as the previous person said. Will report back in a month.

    Posted on December 7, 2009 at 5:46 AM

     
  8. Travis Saunders Said,

    @ Eva,

    Thanks for the detailed comment! Peter and I have been discussing the circulation mechanism, which might sound plausible at first, but doesn't hold up well to closer inspection.

    Wearing tight clothing should actually decrease circulation (just like a tourniquet), which is the biggest issue for me with this mechanism. Further, if the area is heating up, that might increase the blood flow to the skin, but not the fat cells where the fat is stored. And even if it did, fat cells don't release fat in response to increased circulation or massage. And finally, neither Peter nor I knew of any reports of fat being taken up by the lymphatic system.

    Of course if you find the pants are working for you, then I wouldn't think of stopping you. But we might have to agree to disagree on the mechanisms involved :) If you come across any other possible mechanisms, please feel free to share them here.

    @ Anonymous,

    I actually know exactly what you mean about the itchy feeling during prolonged cardio. I've spoken with quite a few distance runners about it, and for me at least, it seems to come on right around the time I start to sweat (I have absolutely no idea what causes it!).

    Good luck with the tights, I'm looking forward to your one-month update.

    Travis

    Posted on December 7, 2009 at 10:40 PM

     
  9. Anonymous Said,

    I can say that these pants are available in Canada for sure as well. They originally come from Brazil in origin. My mother carries them as a wholesaler here in Canada, so i'm somewhat familiar.

    @Travis: The thing I think you are missing is that there are infrared crystals embedded into the fabric of the tights. With the friction between those crystals and the skin, a different form of energy or heat is transferred compared to a normal pair of spandex or tight-fitting clothing. It sounds kinda crazy, but this fabric is very high-tech (if it does indeed do what it says it does...)

    They do offer men's underwear as well, of which I own a pair. They do work, as you feel that "tingly" circulation feeling on your skin. Is that tingly sensation awesome? not really. but its telling me its doing something, as I definitely don't feel that way normally wearing tighter shorts or boxers.

    Posted on January 26, 2010 at 12:32 PM

     
  10. Travis Saunders Said,

    @ Anonymous,

    Thanks for the comment. In all seriousness - it's probably not good to wear underwear that heats up your nether regions. For details, check out this review on the effects of heat stress on male fertility.

    Travis

    Posted on January 26, 2010 at 12:43 PM

     
  11. Hogey Said,

    Hello All,

    I'm writing as a curious observer with a little knowledge of this product (my roommate has a pair of the male scala undergarments). I would like to know more as I am considering buying a pair for myself.
    In reading through the article that you (Travis) provided about the effects of heat on male fertility I'm not so sure how applicable that study is to the Scala product and its effects. In each of the studies done the male reproductive organs were heated to very high levels and I assume that Scala products don't cause the same intensity of heat. My roommate says that his legs aren't hot, merely warm. However, I wonder if this is still causing too much stress on his reproductive organs. Also, I was curious if you know if any of the heat-induced effects are permanent or long-term, as the study seemed to indicate that the effects of heat only mattered up to 2 weeks after.
    Thank you for any help/answers you can provide!

    Posted on March 11, 2010 at 2:57 PM

     
  12. Melissa @ Cellulite Investigation Said,

    Travis, I just found your blog and greatly enjoyed reading through the comments here. I'm a cellulite-knicker skeptic myself, but Eva's experience makes me reconsider.

    I can see why you would think a tight undergarment would limit circulation, but I think it would have a different effect if the pressure was spread over the entire region (like the compression undergarments used for edema) instead of concentrated across one section of lymph/blood vessels (like a tourniquet).

    In any case, thanks for this thought-provoking article!

    Posted on May 5, 2010 at 6:28 PM

     
  13. Anonymous Said,

    Hey, I'm a complete skeptic when it comes to all these sorts of fads but for once I actually gave it a go and bought scala's tight's for £15. I have already noticed a reduction in my cellulite and I feel more confident and happy with how I look. In terms of heating up my thighs and butt don't feel excessively hot and as suggested in other comments it certainly does not heat up your lower parts, they have, as many tights do a cotton panty line. I love them and if they make me feel better about myself for £15 I'm glad I bought them x

    Posted on June 24, 2010 at 4:49 PM

     
  14. Cindy Said,

    The science does seem far fetched to report on melting fat! But when people are desperate unfortunately, they believe what they want to hear.
    It is a sad state of affairs that people feel so self conscious of cellulite when it is a natural occurrence. The media portrays cellulite as shameful by showing snaps of Rhianna or Brittany for not being perfect.
    I would suggest a balanced healthy diet, consistent targeted exercise and plenty of water would be more appropiate to reduce or prevent cellulite but many people would find this too much effort and take the easier option of "melting fat pants"

    Posted on July 9, 2010 at 6:50 AM

     

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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.

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The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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