What Causes Cellulite? Treatment and prevention


Cellulite, contrary to popular belief, is not caused by fat. It is a harmless skin condition that can affect anyone, regardless of weight. Approximately 90% of women suffer from cellulite at some point in their lives (usually after the age of 25), compared to 10% of men.

Cellulite is a condition that affects the appearance of the skin in areas with underlying fat deposits (especially the buttocks and thighs), giving the skin a pitted and lumpy appearance.

The structure of the skin and the underlying connective tissue determines whether a certain area has smooth or wavy cellulite. Still, you have prevention and treatment options.

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What is cellulite?

Under the skin, regardless of weight, body fat percentage or physical condition, there are fat cells that store energy. Women have more than men. They grow over time under the influence of several factors, including hormones, diet, and lifestyle.

Fat cells are found within sections of tough fibrous cords that connect skin to muscle. These threads are called partitions. When fat cells are small, at a younger age they tend to fit well in these areas.

However, as cells grow, the compartments fill with people. The partitions descend on the skin and the expanding fat cells move upwards. This is what creates the uneven surface of cellulite.

Cellulite is not a health problem and its presence does not mean that it is bad. However, it can cause emotional stress due to your appearance, due to society's unrealistic beauty standards.

Despite this, many people turn to their healthcare providers for ways to eliminate or minimize cellulite, and many health products and procedures have been created as a result.

Cellulite is a fat deposit surrounded by fibrous connective tissue that gives the surface of the skin a wrinkled and dimpled appearance. It is most often found on the thighs, thighs, and buttocks .

4 degrees of cellulite

Health professionals classify cellulite according to several systems. One system uses grades one through four.

  • Grade I : No visible cellulite, but the first changes started.
  • Grade II : Cellulite is not visible when the skin is at rest, but is evident when the skin is compressed or the muscles are contracted.
  • Grade III : cellulite is visible when the skin is at rest.
  • Grade IV : more severe cellulitis is seen when the skin is at rest.

Another system considers five aspects of cellulite:

  • Number of depressions
  • Depth of depressions
  • Clinical morphology (shape and location)
  • Sagging or sagging skin.
  • Nuremberger-Muller classification

The Nuremberger-Müller classification is related to the appearance of the skin at rest: smooth, with the appearance of "orange peel" or with nodules, irregularities and depressions in addition to the appearance of orange peel.

Each of the five dimensions is assigned a score of zero to three, three of which are the most severe, and then the total is added.

  • 0-5 = soft
  • 6-10 = Moderate
  • 11-15 = heavy

Health professionals sometimes use imaging tests, such as ultrasound or MRI, to evaluate cellulite. However, the question of whether the results are beneficial is controversial in the medical community.

What Causes Cellulite?

Although the appearance of cellulite tends to get worse as you gain weight, it can affect even the thinnest people. The reason for this is that while body fat worsens the condition, fat itself is not the main cause .

You may be able to control some of the aggravating factors, but the main causes of cellulite are things you cannot control, including:

  • Structure of the skin
  • Hormones
  • Genetics
  • Age

Structure of the skin

As mentioned above, it is the compartments formed by these rigid fibrous partitions that are the real cause of cellulite. However, the location of the connective tissue varies by gender.

In most males, the septums are found under the skin in a cross hatch or diagonal pattern, a smooth, continuous pattern.

In women, they tend to be vertical and perpendicular to the skin. Because of this, they bind the skin to the underlying tissue at specific points, creating chambers in which the fat cells push the skin up and the stripes pull it down. It looks a lot like tufted upholstery.

Men also tend to have a thicker layer of skin than women, which reduces the appearance of cellulite on the rare occasions that it actually occurs .


Hormones are another gender-dependent cause of cellulite.

Estrogen , the main female hormone, plays a role in fat regulation. This causes the natural accumulation of fat in the breasts, thighs and buttocks (exactly where cellulite is most common), especially during the reproductive years. This fat is intended to be a source of energy for having a baby .

You are more likely to develop cellulite when you are in a state of high estrogen, for example :

  • The pregnancy
  • Watch out
  • Long-term use of birth control pills.

However, estrogen affects more than just body fat. It also helps maintain consistent fat levels. When estrogen decreases during menopause, it is easier for women to gain weight, which aggravates cellulite .

In addition, lower estrogen concentrations lead to impaired circulation and a decrease in the activity of the walls of some blood vessels. It also leads to a loss of elasticity of the skin. All of these factors are believed to contribute to the appearance of cellulite .

Testosterone , the main male hormone, has the opposite effect: it burns fat. Many of the 10% of men with cellulite have abnormally low testosterone or high estrogen levels due to medical conditions, including :

  • Castration (removal of the testicles)
  • Hypogonadism (insufficient secretion of hormones by the testicles)
  • Klinefelter syndrome (two or more X chromosomes in men)
  • Estrogen therapy for prostate cancer


Cellulite is believed to have a genetic component and runs in the family. In fact, one of the main risk factors for cellulite is if family members have it.

Several studies have identified genes that appear to influence your predisposition to cellulite. At least some of them deal with substances that affect inflammation, blood flow regulation, estrogen receptors, and fat cell biology, which are known to play a role in the development of cellulite.

The increased risk of cellulite caused by one of the genes appears to be increased in smokers .


When you are young, your connective tissue is flexible and elastic, stretching and giving way to the skin, so everything stays soft.

Then comes puberty and hormones destroy connective tissue. It becomes stiffer and less elastic, which makes the filaments press even more against your skin. At the same time, your fat cells tend to expand in certain areas (especially if you are a woman) pushing your skin.

In adulthood, the outer layer of the skin becomes weak, thins and loses elasticity. Gravity takes over and the skin begins to sag. The septa become more and more resistant. The blood vessels in the skin become more fragile, making cellulite more apparent.

The real cause of cellulite

Cellulite is caused by the interconnection between the skin, connective tissues and normal fat cells that every person has, as well as by the influence on these structures of hormones, age, genetics and lifestyle.

Exacerbating factors

Several factors can increase your risk and make cellulite worse, and unlike causes, you can control some or all.

Things that can increase the appearance of cellulite include:

  • Weight changes
  • Poor nutrition
  • Lack of muscle tone
  • Of smoking
  • Poor skin health

How to get rid of cellulite

Since you have some control over the factors that exacerbate cellulite, it is obvious that the opposites of these factors can reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Many causes and aggravating factors are related to four things:

  • Fat stores
  • Circulation
  • Inflammation
  • Skin and connective tissue health

Not only can lifestyle changes help you improve these things, but some modifications target several of them at once.

Weight loss, weight gain.

Neither weight loss nor weight gain is a reliable way to minimize cellulite.

For many people, weight gain makes cellulite more visible. This is due to the growth of these fat cells and the possibility that they begin to protrude from your glass.

However, in some people, weight loss causes weakening of the skin. This is especially true for extreme or rapid weight loss. This sagging skin can further highlight cellulite, as with sagging skin due to aging.

Cellulite isn't harmful (unless it's emotionally distressing about its appearance), so it shouldn't be a deciding factor in deciding whether to lose or gain weight. This decision should be made with your healthcare provider, taking into account your overall health.

Proper nutrition

A healthy diet is not just about weight, it can also make skin and connective tissues stronger and more elastic .

A healthy diet focuses on:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grain
  • Healthy fats
  • Lean protein

Eating this way can also reduce inflammation and prevent water retention, which can also reduce the appearance of cellulite. Staying hydrated can also help reduce water retention .

The exercise

Not much research has been done in this area, but some research shows that aerobic exercise and resistance exercise like cycling can reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Exercise can help you get rid of cellulite in a number of ways.

  • For some people, it can help reduce body fat levels.
  • Improves blood circulation, maintains healthy skin and connective tissues.
  • Improves muscle tone in areas prone to cellulite, smoothing the appearance.

Of smoking

Smoking is detrimental to connective tissue, causing the normal aging process to harden and contract, becoming hyperdrive and premature aging of the skin .

Never starting is the best way to protect your tissues (and yourself) from the harmful effects of tobacco (but of course, it won't help you if you're already addicted). As difficult as it may be, kicking the habit is always the best option for your health.

Skin and connective tissue health

Healthy and flexible partitions do not bind the skin and muscles so much that they do not bulge the fat cells or cause lumps. A healthier and younger skin keeps the fatty areas tighter, so that cellulite does not manifest as much.

Collagen is the most important part of healthy tissue. It is one of the two proteins that make up connective tissue and represents 75% of the dry matter in the skin. Research shows that collagen supplements can improve the appearance of the skin and improve cellulite .

Your body produces collagen, but naturally it produces about 1% less collagen each year. Reducing the amount of collagen has the following effects :

  • Tighter connective tissue
  • Wrinkled skin
  • Smaller and weaker muscles
  • Joint pain due to loss of cartilage.

To make collagen, your body uses amino acids from protein. You also need vitamin C, zinc, and copper ( the diet above should be high in these nutrients).

However, as you get older or if you are not getting enough of these nutrients, it may be beneficial for you to add foods or supplements that increase collagen to your diet. Bone broth and pork skin are two of the best dietary sources.

Cellulite Treatment Options

If you are not comfortable with lifestyle changes to get rid of cellulite, you have several treatment options.

Many cellulite remedies and remedies are advertised. Some of them work well for some people, while others are only effective for getting your money.

It is important to note that fat removal treatments often do not affect cellulite. To achieve the desired effect, special procedures are required .

The following treatment information is drawn from the American Academy of Dermatology and the 2017 Cellulite Medical Research Review published in the journal Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology .


There are several supplements on the market that claim to reduce cellulite. Many contain ingredients like caffeine, grape seed extract, ginkgo biloba, and gotu kola.

Very little research has been done in this area and, thus far, none of these supplements have been shown to reduce the appearance of cellulite.

As mentioned above, collagen supplements have scientific backing for cellulite reduction .

Creams and lotions

Topical products like creams and lotions can have some value when it comes to smoothing the appearance of the skin, depending on their ingredients.

Effective ingredients are believed to include:

  • Caffeine – While oral intake is not considered beneficial when it comes to cellulite, when applied topically, caffeine can dehydrate cells and make dimples less visible. They must be used every day to maintain the effect.
  • Retinol : Products that contain 0.3% retinol can help thicken the skin and reduce the appearance of cellulite. However, you are unlikely to get noticeable results after at least six months of use.

Research shows that these ingredients can work by stimulating blood circulation in the skin, helping to break down fat, and increasing collagen production.

When you start using a new topical product, be sure to test it on a small area of your skin in case you are allergic to any of the ingredients.

Ingredient Warning: Aminophylline

Some people report anxiety or palpitations when using topical products that contain aminophylline . Small area testing is recommended with these products.

If you have asthma and are using an inhaler, do not use products that contain this ingredient, as the combination can cause breathing problems.

Medical procedures

Medical cellulite treatments are considered cosmetic and are not medically necessary, which means they are often not covered by insurance.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the following three minimally invasive procedures performed by dermatologists typically give good results lasting at least several months after just one treatment.


  • A needle is inserted under the skin to break down the hard partitions and give fat cells more room to spread out, reducing dimpling.
  • Some studies report 99% satisfaction.
  • Results can last two years or more.
  • Recommended only for people with grade III and IV cellulite (visible when the skin is at rest).

Laser treatment

  • With a device called Cellulaze, a small laser fiber inserted under the skin breaks the hard partitions and can thicken the skin, resulting in a smoother appearance.
  • Results can last a year or more.
  • With other brands of laser devices, the results can last six months or more.

Precise tissue release by vacuum

  • Small cutting blades are inserted through the partitions, allowing the tissue to move upward and fill in the dimpled areas.
  • A small study showed results that lasted up to three years.

Less definitely, many sessions are required

Several other treatments have shown some positive results in studies, but they require multiple sessions to achieve the desired results and may not be as long as the aforementioned treatments.

  • Acoustic Wave Therapy – Shock wave therapy or pulse activation can smooth the appearance of cellulite by improving blood circulation, collagen production, and fluid drainage. Positive results were reported after at least six weekly sessions.
  • Carboxytherapy – Carbon dioxide is injected under the skin. Preliminary research shows positive results after eight treatments, with researchers reporting better placement of the septum and adipose tissue .

Procedures that may not be worth it

Two other treatments that may be effective but require more treatments and have shorter-term results:

  • Mechanical Vacuum Lymphatic Drainage Massage : This method can improve blood circulation and drain fluids to temporarily improve the appearance of cellulite.
  • Radio Frequency : Cellulite is heated by radio waves, which have a superficial and temporary effect of smoothing out irregularities. The technique can also include lasers, suction, infrared energy, and / or massage to improve results.

Procedures that are unlikely to work

Several other procedures have been found to be ineffective or too new to be carefully evaluated, including:

  • Laser liposuction
  • Ultrasonic liposculpture
  • Cryolipolysis
  • Mesotherapy

Spa treatments

Some spa treatments like endermologie and ionithermie reduce cellulite, claiming to reduce the appearance of cellulite. So far, none of the studies have obtained adequate or consistent results to be recommended.

Get the word of drug information

Since cellulite is caused by uncontrollable factors and is so common in women, you should not feel guilty about it or see it as a fault of your health or fitness.

At the same time, if you think minimizing it will help you look or feel better, you should speak with your healthcare provider and find out what are the safest and most likely methods that will work for you, given your overall health, budget, and lifestyle. life and treatment goals. …

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