What is Cellulite? Beneath the surface of our skins we have a fatty tissue that sits on a firm layer of collagen connective tissue. Before cellulite shows up, the outer surface of the skin is smooth and supple (no bumps and no ridges). The fatty tissue beneath the skin is also smooth which causes no bumps to show. The fatty layer just below your skin is (and remains) smooth and supple as long as the fat cells remain strong, healthy and flexible inside.
The dimply, bumpy texture we call cellulite begins to occur when the structure of the fat cells begin to weaken. When the cell walls weaken, the cells begin to “sag” and this “sagging” is what accounts for the “orange peel” look of cellulite. The weaker the cells become, the worse the sagging and the worse the cellulite.
How To notice Cellulite?
Cellulite is easy to spot. It’s the “dimpled” look or “orange peel” or “bumpy” appearance that shows up on 90% of women. If you are unsure, pinch an area of your outer thigh with your thumb and index finger. If the pinched skin looks uneven or like orange peel in texture it is likely there is cellulite present. Conduct the pinch test on other areas of your body, including your arms, stomach and bottom. If your skin appears smooth when pinched, then you do not have cellulite.
How does cellulite get worse?
For the skin on our thighs and bums to be smooth and elastic, the cells MUST be structurally strong and flexible. If they are not strong the fatty layer just below the skin develops a bumpy, “ridge and valley” texture which as a result causes cellulite.
The way the fatty tissue is attached to the underlying collagen explains why cell strength is so important. The fatty tissue and the collagen are stuck together by a strong “magnet like” attraction on a molecular level. The fatty tissue is “pulled” toward the collagen and the collagen is “pulled” toward the fatty tissue; resulting in a strong bond between the two.
When the fat cells are STRONG and FLEXIBLE, the top surface of the fatty layer (just below your skin surface) stays smooth and unbroken even though the entire fatty layer is being “pulled” downwards towards the collagen.
If the fat cells become weaker or inflexible they can no longer maintain a smooth evenness appearance and begin to sag to the downward pressure caused by the constant attraction of the collagen. This is how cellulite forms.
When Does Cellulite start to appear?
Cellulite usually begins to display when women are aged 25-35. It is also common for it to make an appearance after a woman has her first child. These are not strict guidelines. Cellulite can also occur earlier than the age of 25, and also later than age 35. Some women are very lucky and do not get any at all!
If and when cellulite appears on a women’s body it is dependent almost entirely on 1) the strength and flexibility of the fat cells, and; 2) the thickness of the underlying fat layer.
What causes cellulite?
Cellulite is a term used to describe the textured appearance of skin caused by fat deposits that are just below the surface of the skin. It most commonly appears on skin in the abdomen, lower limbs, and pelvic region, and it usually appears after puberty. In its medical terms, cellulite is also known as adiposis edematosa, dermopanniculosis deformans, status protrusus cutis, and gynoid lipodystrophy. If you are talking in everyday language you may hear it being described as “orange peel syndrome”, “cottage cheese skin”, “hail damage”, and “the mattress phenomenon”.
Cellulite is often categorised using three grades.
Grade 1 classification sees no clinical symptoms, but a microscopic examination of cells from the area detects underlying bodily changes.
Grade 2 cellulite requires the skin to show pallor (paleness), be lower temperature, and have less elasticity in addition to bodily changes noted by microscopic examinations.
Grade 3 cellulite has visible roughness of the skin (like an orange peel) along with all grade 2 signs.
Cellulite occurs in both men and women, but it is much more common in women because they are more likely to have particular types of fat and connective tissue.
Causes of cellulite?
What causes cellulite is not well understood, but there are several theories that have been put forward as explanations. These include:
- Hormonal factors - hormones likely play an important role in cellulite development. Many believe estrogen, insulin, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones, and prolactin are part of the cellulite production process.
- Genetics - certain genes are required for cellulite development. Our genes may encourage us to show certain characteristics associated with cellulite, such as gender, race, slow metabolism, distribution of fat underneath the skin, and circulatory insufficiency.
- Diet - people who eat too much fat, carbohydrates, or salt and too little fiber are likely to have greater amounts of cellulite. It may also appear if in the past you have lost a lot of weight and your skins has changed dramatically.
- Lifestyle factors - cellulite may be more predominant in smokers, those who lack exercise, and those who sit or stand in one position for long periods of time, i.e. desk workers.
- Clothing - underwear with tight elastic across the bum (limiting blood flow) may also contribute to the formation of cellulite.
There are products on the market that can help with cellulite reduction or removal, make sure you do your research and find out which one suits your grade of cellulite best and your skin itself.
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Note: This article is written in good faith. Please consult your doctor before taking any action.