All about cellulite
by Ezra •6 minutes read
Last updated: 08 Mar, 2023
Cellulite is a skin condition that causes the skin to appear dimpled, uneven, or bumpy. It is caused by connective tissue bands pulling the fat deposits beneath the skin downwards into deeper tissue.
Who develops cellulite?
Men and women and people of all ethnicities, body types, ages, and weights can develop this skin condition. It usually appears on the thighs, hips, stomach, breasts, upper arms, and buttocks.
The main factors that contribute to cellulite production are:
Hormone and metabolism changes
Unhealthy lifestyle and diet
Cellulite is most common in women, with 80-90% of adult women experiencing it at some point in their life. This is because womens fat, connective tissue, and muscle is naturally distributed differently to men. Women have more subcutaneous body fat on their lower body, which is why cellulite is mainly seen in these areas, and the structure of their connective tissue cords makes their skin more likely to appear dimpled and uneven.
The skin condition normally starts to appear between the ages of 25 to 35 because skin loses elasticity and becomes thinner with age, which exposes the cellulite, but it can also be seen in adolescents.
Cellulite can also develop in men but less than 10% of men will experience it in their lifetime. This is because estrogen creates fat cells, whereas testosterone breaks it down.
Grades of cellulite
Grade 0: The skin is smooth and firm with no depressions.
Grade 1 (mild): The skin has an ‘orange peel’ appearance with 1 to 4 superficial depressions.
Grade 2 (moderate): The skin has a ‘cottage cheese’ appearance with 5 to 9 medium-depth depressions.
Grade 3 (severe): The skin has a ‘mattress’ appearance with over 10 deep depressions.
How to get rid of cellulite
Although there are many ways to improve the appearance of cellulite, it should be noted that it is not necessary to treat. It poses no health risk and is completely natural and common, only a cosmetic concern to some people.
Always consult with a licensed physician before undergoing any medical treatments for cellulite.
Maintaining a healthy diet and weight
Maintaining a healthy diet and weight can greatly reduce the amount of cellulite on the skin.
Losing weight, achieving a lower body fat percentage, and introducing strength training into an exercise regime can greatly reduce the appearance of the skin condition. This is because toned muscles make the skin smoother, firmer, and more even.
It is also important to stay hydrated as fluid retention will cause cellulite to appear more pronounced. Avoid processed foods which are high in fats, carbohydrates, salt, and preservatives. Quit smoking too as it thins the skin and makes the skin condition more visible.
Taking supplements such as caffeine, grape seed extract, and ginkgo biloba may also reduce the appearance of dimpled and uneven skin as these herbal products increase blood flow in the body.
Topical treatments can reduce the amount of cellulite that is visible on the skin. The creams moisturise and tighten the skin, smoothing out its texture to reduce uneven texture. Massaging the creams into the skin can improve its effectiveness as it removes excess fluid build up and increases blood flow.
The most popular topical treatments include:
Caffeine - Drains retained fluid and increases blood flow to the skin
Retinol - Stimulates collagen production and increases cell turnover
These treatments do not remove cellulite and need to be applied daily for a prolonged period of time to maintain results.
Acoustic wave therapy
Acoustic wave therapy uses a device to transmit sound waves into the skin and break down cellulite.
This treatment can take up to a few sessions before improvement is seen.
A small laser probe is inserted under the skin during a laser treatment which breaks down the tissue that creates cellulite. This treatment thickens the skin that has been thinned by cellulite, increasing collagen production, which reduces the appearance of the skin condition.
This treatment reduces the appearance of cellulite for a year.
Vacuum-assisted precise tissue release
Vacuum-assisted precise tissue release uses a device with small blades to cut the connective bands under the skin. The space beneath the skin is then filled with tissue that moves up to make cellulite less noticeable.
This treatment eliminates cellulite for around 3 years.
Endermologie uses a vacuum-like device that acts as a deep massage and lifts the skin.
This treatment has been approved as safe by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but it is not as effective at treating cellulite as well as other techniques.
Carboxytherapy uses carbon dioxide that is inserted just underneath the skin's surface.
This technique reduces the appearance of cellulite slightly after multiple treatments but side effects include temporary bruising and discomfort.
Subcision uses a needle to break up the connective tissue bands underneath the skin.
This treatment eliminates cellulite for around 2 years.
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