What causes cellulite and are you predisposed to it?
For over 40 years, patients have been asking me: “What causes cellulite, why am I predisposed to it – and most importantly – how can I get rid of it?” As a dermatologist, I know that cellulite is caused by how fatty segments of your skin are located in the fat layer of your skin. Your fat segments are grouped between the fibrous cords that support the fat layer of your skin. You are prone to cellulite if your fiber cords allow the fat lobes to protrude upward from the fat layer of the skin to the skin layer above.
The cause of cellulite lies in the fat layer of your skin.
The fat layer of your skin consists of:
- groups of fatty lobules (visible here as yellow spheres); and
- fibrous cords (visible as white parallel vertical lines) extending between groups of fatty lobules. These fibrous cords hold the fat lobes and connect them to the underlying muscle and dermis, which is located above the fat layer (shown in the picture in a light pink layer).
Everyone has the same structure of fat lobules, alternating between the fibrous cords in their fat layer. But the fat segments of some people protrude up more than others, and this is what causes cellulite.
Can you cure cellulite? No, but you can make your skin better to reduce cellulite.
What can I – a 60-year-old dermatologist and a woman prone to cellulite – make my cellulite less noticeable?
I practice. It really helps me. I also watch my diet. And I like to keep the cellulite-prone skin soft, smooth and youthful, even if it is covered with dimples. I use an ultrafast triple-action body smoothing kit to keep my skin moist and smooth. I also use tanning (my favorite is the hypoallergenic Avene Self Tanner) to help reduce dimpled shadows when I need to expose skin areas prone to cellulite. That's how I deal with wearing a bathing suit in public!
What causes an increase or disappearance of cellulite?
Since cellulite is caused by the protrusion of fatty lobes between the fibrous cords in the fat layer of your skin,
- a dimple in cellulite will show more when more fat accumulates in the fat fractions,
- the dimple will be less if the amount of fat contained in the lobes is reduced.
If you are prone to cellulite, nothing you can do will change its appearance, except for changing the amount of fat held in shares.
Argh! This is sad truth, and it is important to understand. Cellulite is caused by a structural connection between the fat lobes and the fibrous cords in the fat layer, and some people have fibrous cords that allow the fat to swell up, causing dimples to appear on the covering skin.
Where are you most likely to be prone to cellulite?
The most cellulite-prone areas are the buttock, thighs and thighs.
What makes you prone to cellulite?
- Women are more prone to cellulite than men or children. As many as 80-90% of women develop cellulitis to some extent after puberty.
- Women tend to have weak fibrous cords between the fat lobes in the fat layer. A woman must not be overweight in order to have cellulite. They just need to have weak fibrous cords that allow the lobes of fat to bulge up. So, yes, even thin women can have cellulite!
- Cellulitis can be genetic. If women in your family have cellulite, then you may be more prone to it.
- Wearing tight underwear was associated with increased levels of cellulite. This is thought to be secondary to lower circulation in the skin below.
- Overweight women have more fat in fatty fractions and will be more prone to cellulite.
- A sedentary lifestyle will increase the risk of developing cellulite.
When do women start cellulite?
- The dimple on cellulite usually begins after puberty.
- Pregnancy can worsen cellulite.
- Cellulite will also worsen with a woman's age.
Now that you know the cause of cellulite, what can you do to get rid of it?
Do the creams and cellulite treatments that you see advertised work to treat cellulite? Unfortunately, not or not at all. There are many creams and treatments advertised to treat cellulite. Most do not have good scientific evidence. The American Academy of Dermatology lists a number of approved cellulite treatments. These include lasers, clipping (cutting fiber cords – oh!), Filler injection, etc. Liposuction and cryolipolysis (such as Coolsculpt) may help some women. Unfortunately, none of these cellulite treatments are considered universally successful for the long-term improvement of cellulite, although individual results may vary.
Unfortunately, the best way to reduce the appearance of cellulite is through exercise and weight loss, which is also good for your overall health.
If you are prone to cellulite, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Know that this will worsen with weight gain and with age. I think that almost every woman knows this – I know that I know.
Published online 2018 October 22nd. Doi: 10.1016 / j.ijwd.2018.09.09.002
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