What Is Wood Therapy?

Wood therapy, also called maderotherapy or maderoterapia, is a form of massage that uses various hand-held wooden tools. Practitioners of wood therapy claim that it has benefits such as breaking down fat and cellulite, promoting blood circulation, smoothing the skin, and reducing stress.

Wood therapy lacks scientific research. Information about it comes largely from the spas and clinics that provide it rather than from established institutions.

This article will discuss what wood therapy is said to do and if it works. Other methods aimed at reducing cellulite will also be explored.

Person receiving wood therapy facial massage

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What Does Wood Therapy Do?

People who provide wood therapy claim it has benefits such as:

  • Breaking down fat and cellulite (pockets of fat just below the skin)
  • Reshaping the body
  • Promoting body cleansing
  • Promoting lymphatic drainage and elimination of adipose tissue (fat)
  • Improving skin tone and elasticity
  • Relieving stress and promoting relaxation
  • Loosening tight muscles
  • Firming thighs and butt
  • Stimulating blood circulation

These claims are not yet backed by research evidence.

Reduce Cellulite

Wood therapy is purported to help break down fat and cellulite, which the practitioner then moves to where it can be eliminated through the lymphatic system with other waste products.

While there is no scientific evidence to support this effect from wood therapy specifically, there is an established history of using specialized massage techniques to address cellulite, including the use of tools similar to those used in wood therapy. These techniques typically "knead" the skin using vacuum suction or a roller.

The reported smoothing effect from this technique is temporary and likely due to mild inflammation in the area.

Increase Lymphatic Circulation

The lymphatic system is part of the immune system. It consists of a network of vessels, nodes, and organs that carry lymph fluid throughout the body. Lymph fluid contains white blood cells that fight infection. It also helps rid the body of waste and excess fluid.

Manual lymphatic drainage is a specific type of massage used to encourage the natural movement of lymph fluid.

Wood therapy is different than manual lymphatic drainage massage. While it has not been tested with scientific studies, one claim for wood therapy is that it stimulates the lymph system.

Alleviate Stress

Massage therapy administered by a licensed massage therapist has been shown to help with stress relief. Likewise, practitioners of wood therapy claim it also provides stress relief.

Is Wood Therapy Effective?

Wood therapy has not been scientifically studied, so it is impossible to properly determine its effectiveness. Reports of positive effects are largely anecdotal rather than backed by evidence.

It is possible wood therapy could create positive effects in a similar way to other massage techniques that are backed by science. However, studies are needed to determine if this is the case.

As an umbrella term, "massage therapy" describes various techniques that vary in how touch, pressure, and treatment intensity are applied.

Research on massage therapy shows it may help:

  • Reduce muscle tension
  • Increase blood circulation
  • Stimulate the lymphatic system and increase lymph circulation
  • Help remove waste products
  • Reduce stress hormones such as cortisol
  • Activate the relaxation response
  • Improved skin tone
  • Boost mood by increasing the production of the hormone serotonin
  • Relax soft tissue

What to Expect at a Wood Therapy Session

During a wood therapy session, specialized wooden tools are used with repetitive motions on certain areas of the body, such as the face, torso, arms, and legs. Deep, continuous, direct pressure is placed on "problem areas." The tools are sanitized between uses.

The first few sessions may cause discomfort as you work with your practitioner to figure out the right amount of pressure for you. Sessions may become more comfortable over time.

Wood therapy may cause bruising for some people. Check with your healthcare provider before starting wood therapy.

Other Ways to Reduce Cellulite

Cellulite is very common. About 85% to 90% of adult females have cellulite.

Cellulite is a "puckering" or dimpled look on the skin. It is caused by irregular tightening of the septae (fibrous bands that connect the skin to the underlying muscle fascia), which pulls the skin down and allows the layer of fat beneath the skin to push upwards.

Cellulite is found most commonly on the outer thighs, back of the thighs, and butt.

Multiple treatments exist aiming at reducing cellulite, with varying degrees of efficacy. No procedures have been proven to be successful long-term, and cellulite can't be fully eradicated, but there are ways to lessen the appearance of cellulite.

Medical Treatments for Cellulite

There are several ways cellulite may be treated.

Acoustic wave therapy:

  • Ultrasonic waves are used to break down fibrous tissue.
  • Studies have shown it to be potentially helpful in reducing the appearance of cellulite.
  • Several treatments are needed.


  • Carbon dioxide gas is inserted just beneath the skin.
  • Early studies show it may help reduce the look of cellulite.
  • It may cause discomfort during treatment and bruising.

Cryolipolysis/Cool Sculpting:

Laser treatment:

  • Different types of laser treatments exist; one form is Cellulaze.
  • During Cellulaze, a small laser fiber is inserted under the skin, which uses light energy to break up tough bands beneath the skin.
  • Research suggests it may reduce the appearance of cellulite, with results potentially lasting a year or longer (more studies are needed),
  • Desired results may be seen with one treatment.
  • Other forms of laser and light devices have mixed results.


  • It uses thermal energy to heat the targeted area.
  • Different methods are available.
  • One device combines radiofrequency with a laser, suction, and massage.
  • Studies show some people see a slight reduction in cellulite, but it isn't lasting, and several treatments are needed to see this small change.


  • A needle is inserted just under the skin to break up and release the tough bands that cause cellulite
  • It has been shown to reduce dimpling skin from cellulite.
  • Results can last two to three years.
  • It can cause temporary swelling, discomfort, and bruising.


  • Ultrasound alone has not been shown to reduce cellulite.
  • High-frequency ultrasound used in combination with vacuum drainage, suction, and massage may have a mild effect on abdominal cellulite.
  • More research is needed.

Vacuum-assisted precise tissue release:

  • A device that contains small blades is used to cut the tough bands, allowing tissue to move up and fill out dimpled skin.
  • A small study showed a reduction in the appearance of cellulite lasting at least three years, maybe longer.

Home Remedies for Cellulite

These remedies have been tried:

  • Apple cider vinegar: There is no credible evidence that apple cider vinegar (drinking it or applying it to the skin) can help reduce cellulite.
  • Caffeine or coffee creams and scrubs: Products that contain caffeine may make cellulite look less obvious by dehydrating cells, but daily application is needed to maintain results.
  • Dry brushing: Dry brushing (a dry brush is swept across the skin) has not been shown by research to help treat cellulite.
  • Exercise: Exercise won't get rid of cellulite. But regular exercise can build muscle, which can smooth and firm the skin, making cellulite less noticeable.

Other Therapies for Cellulite


  • This device gives a deep tissue massage while using a vacuum tool to lift the skin.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that it is unlikely to cause harm but has not stated that it is effective.
  • Several treatment sessions are needed.
  • Studies on effectiveness differ; some showed no result, while others saw a temporary reduction in cellulite (lasting about a month).

Retinol topicals:

  • Products that contain 0.3% retinol may thicken the skin and reduce the look of cellulite.
  • You need to apply the product for at least six months before seeing potential results.
  • Studies using retinol to treat cellulite have been small and lack long-term follow-up.

Other creams and lotions:

  • Creams and lotions aimed at treating cellulite are rarely worth the money. Medical-grade products may gradually encourage collagen production, which firms the skin but is rarely effective for cellulite.
  • If you use a cream or lotion, test it on a small area first.
  • Products that contain aminophylline may cause anxiousness or a racing heart. People with asthma should avoid products with aminophylline entirely as they may develop a sensitivity to it and then be unable to use it to treat their asthma.


Wood therapy is a massage technique that uses a collection of specialized wooden tools. Practitioners of wood therapy claim it has positive effects, such as improving blood and lymph circulation and reducing cellulite.

Wood therapy has no scientific research to back these claims. Several other treatments have shown to be somewhat effective at reducing the appearance of cellulite, but none exists that can eliminate it.

If you want to try wood therapy, it's important to remember that unlike massage therapy provided by registered massage therapists, wood therapy has not been adequately studied for safety and effectiveness. While there is anecdotal evidence from people who practice and/or receive wood therapy, these claims have not been proven.

Before trying wood therapy, make sure to do your research on the practitioner, ask lots of questions, and check with your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does wood therapy work for the butt?

    Practitioners of wood therapy claim it can help reduce cellulite on the butt, but this has not been proven.

  • What is a butt lift with wood therapy?

    Some practitioners of wood therapy say that wood therapy gives the butt a natural boost. Wood therapy may involve vacuum lifting with cups.

    However, this effect has not been proven.

  • Does wood therapy break up fat?

    Practitioners of wood therapy claim it can help break up fat, but this has not been proven with evidence.

  • Does wood therapy cause bruising?

    It is possible for wood therapy to cause bruising. Talk to your healthcare provider before trying wood therapy to be sure it is appropriate for you.

17 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Heather Jones
Heather M. Jones is a freelance writer with a strong focus on health, parenting, disability, and feminism.