Cellulite is a frustrating problem many women (and some men) can relate to. The dimpled appearance of skin can be unpleasant for most people who have cellulite and we often spend a lot of time and effort on eradicating it from our bodies. Getting rid of cellulite is a goal for many people – not just those on the cover of magazines!
There are many theories about the causes and treatment for cellulite, but in most cases it is a completely normal bodily process that can simply be managed not cured. This article will examine what it is, who it affects, causes, and ways to prevent or treat cellulite. It will also clear up some common myths associated with this cellulite.
What it is
Cellulite is a persistent fat tissue found under the skin and is a normal process in the human body. It causes dimpling of the skin, and is especially common on a woman’s hips, buttocks and thighs. Cellulite is one way the body stores fat. When connective tissue is weakened, the fat cells of the body enlarge and fill with fat. The connecting fibres of the skin remain the same size and dimples appear as the fat cells push through these fibres. It is characterised by an ‘orange peel’ or ‘cottage cheese’ appearance including skin thickening, dimpling and lumpiness.
Who it affects
Cellulite affects women more than men. This is because women carry a higher percentage of body fat to assist with reproduction. In addition women generally store fat deposits on the buttocks and thighs, where cellulite appears, while men tend to store fat in the abdominal area. Some studies suggest up to 95% of women over the age of 30 will develop some amount of cellulite. It can affect overweight as well as slim people. Cellulite is not an illness or a medical condition, but the cosmetic appearance can be unpleasant for many people.
Causes of Cellulite
The causes of cellulite are unclear. The following factors are thought to contribute to the development of cellulite:
- Weight – Cellulite can appear on thin people. However excess weight can make cellulite worse.
- Hormones – High levels of estrogen and progesterone levels can result in increased fatty deposits, weight gain, water retention, and weakened fibre structure. These factors can result in worse cellulite. Women have more estrogen and progesterone than men, and levels increase during and after pregnancy.
- Age – Skin loses elasticity over time resulting in sagging and wrinkles. In addition, fat accumulates at a faster rate as the body requires less energy.
- Genetics – there is some research to suggest that your susceptibility to developing cellulite is influenced by genetics. If your mother is affected by cellulite it is more likely you will be too. In addition white women are more likely to have cellulite than Asian women.
- Lifestyle – Smoking and high caffeine consumption is associated with poor blood circulation. The connecting fibres of the skin can be damaged due to a lack of oxygen resulting in cellulite. A lack of exercise can also impair blood circulation and contribute to poor muscle tone which can highlight the appearance of cellulite. A diet high in fat and sugar will also result in increased body fat and therefore cellulite. Prolonged exposure to the sun will speed up the skin-aging process. Finally, a high-stress lifestyle causes an increase in the level of catecholamines hormones, which have also been associated with the development of cellulite.
Due to hormonal and genetic factors, cellulite is often unavoidable. However a look at the causes of cellulite shows how it might be prevented or at least minimised. The best way to prevent cellulite is by reducing fat through diet and exercise. Exercise also increases blood circulation, improves muscle tone and keeps connective fibres strong. You should aim for moderate exercise most days of the week. Diet is another way to reduce fat and it is recommended that you eat a low-fat, low-sugar diet with plenty of fibre and water. Lifestyle factors also play an important role in the development of cellulite. Avoid smoking, reduce caffeine consumption, increase exercise and minimise stress.
Treatment of Cellulite
Companies make a fortune claiming to be able to cure cellulite through expensive creams and procedures. Cosmetic procedures which may improve the appearance of cellulite include radiofrequency, laser treatment and subcision. However there is little evidence of their effectiveness and may only provide a temporary improvement in appearance. Most of the claims made by these companies have been dismissed by the medical community and the majority of the tests done on cellulite creams and procedures have produced inconclusive results. These procedures can also be expensive and invasive.
Body fat can be removed through surgery via a procedure known as liposuction. Reduced body fat may improve the appearance of cellulite but there is no guarantee. Liposuction would be a drastic solution to a process that is perfectly normal and not life-threatening.
Body massage and herbal supplements may also have some limited benefit by improving blood circulation and assisting with making connective tissue fibres stronger and more elastic.Again, there is little or no evidence to show their effectiveness and may only result in a temporary improvement.
Myths about cellulite
- Thin people don’t get cellulite. No one is immune to cellulite. While excess weight can make cellulite worse, there are also genetic factors to take into account.
- Tanning can hide cellulite. Tanning can reduce the appearance of cellulite but will not hide it completely. In addition, tanning caused by sun exposure or tanning beds can result in skin damage which may make cellulite worse.
- Creams and procedures will cure cellulite. There is no ‘cure’ for cellulite. The best way to treat and prevent cellulite is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- Cellulite is a normal bodily process
- Cellulite affects women more than men
- Cellulite can affect all types of people
- Cellulite can be cause by hormonal and genetic factors, as well as body fat and lifestyle
- Creams and procedures claiming to cure cellulite have little evidence to support their use and are often expensive
- The best way to prevent and treat cellulite is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle