What is cellulite?
Cellulite describes a natural anatomical storage pattern for subcutaneous (below the skin) fat for a woman that is especially noticeable in the thighs, buttocks, abdomen and pelvic area. The fat storage pattern of women is different from men. A woman’s fat cells are held in supporting column like fibers called septae that are not closely interconnected. A woman’s fat has a “picket fence” texture to its storage pattern. A man’s fat is connects to skin to deeper tissue layers in a “chain link fence” pattern that anchor and contain the fat better. It’s important to remember that no all no matter what people tell you it is impossible to “cure cellulite.” That’s like saying they can cure you from being a woman! That’s why 90-100% of women have problems with cellulite…its part of how we’re put together. (About 10% of men have problems with cellulite as well.)
Cellulite is not a medical term but a word that was coined in French spas in the ‘70s. Cellulite goes by many clinical names: gynoid lipodystrophy, adiposis edematosa, dermopanniculosis deformans, and status protrusis cutis. More colloquial terms are “cottage cheese skin” “orange peel syndrome” “waffle or mattress skin” or “hail damage.”
What Causes Cellulite?
Remember that cellulite describes a natural pattern of fat storage in women. Clinical studies show there is no difference between the fat in cellulite and other subcutaneous fat…The problem in all in the packaging of that fat. As women go through various cycles of life- the fluctuations of estrogen during your periods, onset of puberty, child bearing,etc. and given our diet and lifestyle the fat cells increase in size causing the constraining fibers or septae to bulge and strain. Think of cellulite as “herniated fat” that pokes out. This creates the dimpling and rimpling that we call cellulite. The dimples are actually the original level of your skin. Cellulite is the result of not one but three problems:
- Fat: As fat cells grow in size they follow the columns of the “picket fence” matrix in subcutaneous fat, which is about 80% of the fat in the body. Unfortunately women have more subcutaneous fat than men…about 3 times more.
- Fibers: The septae that make up the columns are strained by the extra fat and for that and other reasons mentioned below thicken and become inflamed. This narrows the fat column both pushing the fat up and out more and pulling down to create the uneven appearance associated with cellulite.
- Firmness: A women’s skin is much thinner than a man’s. With age and sun exposure the collagen that can help provide a smoother appearance to skin weakens so that cellulite is even more obvious.
There’s probably no way to completely prevent cellulite since its part of a woman’s anatomy but there are certain things that may increase the likelihood that cellulite will be more obvious on your body:
- Exercise and nutrition: People who eat high fat and high carb foods in comparison to their body’s ability to burn those extra calories. People that perform sedentary jobs, requiring lots of seated work or standing in one position without much movement.
- Hormones: The shifting patterns of a woman’s hormones, especially estrogen, over her life and cycles probably aid in the appearance of cellulite. Estrogen, insulin, noradrenaline, thyroid and prolactin levels all affect the appearance of cellulite. But in what ways has yet to be exactly studied.
- Genes: Genetic factors may predispose you to characteristics associated with cellulite. Genetic factors like poor circulation, slower metabolism, and subcutaneous fat distribution can adversely influence cellulite appearance. Caucasians show cellulite more than African Americans or Asians. Caucasian red heads have thin skin and are very susceptible to collagen breakdown in the sun and so will show cellulite more. At the same time just because Mom or a sister shows cellulite badly doesn’t mean you will.
- History of Yo-Yo Dieting: Yo-yo dieting with the continual expansion and contraction of fat cells stretches the connecting fibers and makes cellulite worse.
- Your wardrobe: It sounds bizarre but tight elastic across the buttocks limits blood flow and constantly rubs and irritates the septae. When combined with excessive sitting it compounds the problem increasing the likelihood of the appearance of cellulite.
Can cellulite be removed?
Cellulite can’t technically be removed because it’s a storage pattern for fat that naturally occurs in the female body. But there are things that can be done to improve the appearance of cellulite and greatly reduce the dimpling and cottage cheese look we find distressing.
Can I get rid of cellulite with diet and exercise?
As I mentioned up above cellulite has three components the make it more prominent. Improved nutrition and exercise will reduce your body fat and that’s good for your over-all health, but diet and exercise will only reduce the fat and will do nothing to deal with the inflamed septae or thinner skin. In fact the people that complain the most about cellulite are woman who religiously diet and exercise and are quit trim and firm but still have cellulite.
What can I do about my cellulite?
First let’s talk about what DOESN’t work. Wrapping, massaging, and crèmes don’t show any long term efficacy. Most of these contain a diuretic ingredient or effect that may provide a slight difference in appearance but not for more than a day or two at most. Tanning just means you have cellulite with a really nice layer of skin damage on top of it. You may think you’re hiding the cellulite but tanning damages your collagen so long term you’re going to have an even bigger problem. Surgery in the form of liposuction only makes cellulite look worse.
What DOES work on cellulite?
I’ve been working on the problem of cellulite for the past eight years, longer than anyone else in Ohio. I’ve traveled and studied with some of the best experts in the field of cellulite. Initially the only real tool we had that showed results was mesotherapy. Mesotherapy showed fine results but it requires a time consuming regimen over a series of a couple of months. It also addresses only two of the three problems that make cellulite prominent. Then came Cellulaze® which allows for all three problems to be addressed in a one and done format. It’s tedious and meticulous work…but that’s my end, all you have to do is lay there and relax and later enjoy the results.