Published: January 27, 2021
Last updated: March 28, 2022
Content Reviewed by AEDIT Medical Advisory Board
When it comes to cellulite body type probably isn’t as important as you think. Even at healthy body weight and body fat levels a majority of individuals (women especially) will experience some degree of the dimpled, loose skin associated with cellulite. While our first instincts may be to establish a strict diet and exercise routine, in some cases even the healthiest lifestyles are not sufficient. And once the cardio and carb deficits stop having the desired effect, it may be time to seek a professional alternative treatment.
What is cellulite?
Ah, cellulite. We all have it and we all don’t want to have it. So what is it exactly? While the exact mechanism is not known, it is believed that cellulite occurs when the subcutaneous (fat) tissue interacts with the connective tissue of the skin in such a way that causes dimpling of the skin. Body fat levels, hormones, age, collagen production, genetics, and certain diet and lifestyle factors (like smoking and lack of exercise) are believed to correlate to cellulite formation.
The Anatomy of Cellulite
Why treat cellulite?
A few quick facts: cellulite can affect individuals at a healthy body weight and body fat level, cellulite is more common in women and is estimated to affect over three quarters of the female population, and cellulite can occur anywhere although it is most commonly seen on the thighs and buttocks in individuals over age 25.
According to the Mayo Clinic, cellulite predominantly appears in women and usually occurs after puberty. The vertical alignment of fibrous tissue seen in females is believed to correlate to the higher prevalence. Although women are more prone to cellulite, men can also experience cellulite especially around the abdomen.
Loss of collagen production and decreases in blood circulation that naturally occur with aging can contribute to an increased appearance of cellulite. In women especially, changes in estrogen levels exacerbate these changes.
What are the main concerns related to cellulite?
All cellulite is not created equal. There are three types of cellulite that create the “orange peel” appearance, however, the treatments vary due to differences in underlying cause.
- Flaccid Cellulite (Soft Cellulite): Sagging skin with a wavy, cottage cheese appearance. It appears in areas that accumulate fat-think hips, legs, and arms. Typically correlated to increases in age and/or body fat.
- Compact Cellulite (Hard Cellulite): Caused by irregularities in the skin creating grooves in the thighs, arms, stomach, glutes, and hips. This type of cellulite clings to muscle, and becomes firm and sensitive to touch.
- Edematous Cellulite: This cellulite tends to be difficult to treat due to a combination of poor blood circulation and significant fluid retention. It typically exists in the legs, especially the thighs and knees.
The most common type of cellulite is flaccid or “soft” cellulite. Compact and edematous cellulite can pose a slightly more serious health risk considering they are correlated to tissue build up and hardening, which may lead to discomfort and circulation problems.
Who may wish to seek a cellulite treatment?
Cellulite treatments can have both physical and emotional benefits. Regardless of the underlying cause, cellulite can be frustrating and stubborn. Individuals of any age who are dissatisfied with the appearance of dimpled, irregular appearing skin will benefit from a professional consultation.
How can someone treat cellulite?
There are several surgical and nonsurgical procedures that assist in the treatment of cellulite. Additionally, there are numerous at home lifestyle modifications and practices that can combat the appearance of cellulite.
For professional procedures to combat stubborn areas or refine skin regions, the treatment is dependent on the underlying cause:
- For Flaccid Cellulite: Procedures like Endermologie, Liposuction, Cellfina, Cellulaze, Carboxy Therapy, Radiofrequency for Cellulite, Cryolipolysis, BodyTite™, and Qwo™ alter the skin, fat, and connective tissue contributing to the formation of cellulite.
- For Compact Cellulite: Mesotherapy destroys the connective tissues to reduce the appearance of cellulite.
- For Edematous Cellulite: Stimulation of Circulation through compression socks, hot baths, and warm water jets can help promote blood flow. Also, Lymphatic Drainage Sessions, like a therapeutic massage, increase lymph flow and assist in toxin removal. This will result in better blood circulation to the treated area.
- At-Home Treatment: It’s no surprise exercise is one of the best DIY treatments available for cellulite. Both cardio and strength training regimens can improve and lessen the appearance of cellulite. These practices help to tighten, smooth, and tone the skin. A healthy diet and healthy weight also go a long way in reducing the production of fat deposits-a main cause of cellulite. It is worth noting that as with most anything, exercise programs and healthy diets must be practiced regularly in order to maintain results, but who wouldn’t want to combat cellulite and create a healthy lifestyle while losing weight and getting toned?
For a comprehensive look at treatment options, check out our guide to Cellulite Removal Solutions.
Cellulite is common, and it can also be annoying. New diet plans and fitness routines pop up daily promising to assist with weight loss, body contouring, and losing cellulite. Unfortunately, however, sometimes the root cause of cellulite can not be completely addressed by lifestyle changes. Complete and effective cellulite removal may require a thorough examination and treatment from a board-certified plastic surgeon or medical expert. And educating yourself about the plethora of options can assist you in making the best and most informed choice.
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AEDIT uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
- American Academy of Dermatology Association Cellulite Treatments: What Really Works? aad.org
- Mayo Clinic Staff Cellulite mayoclinic.org
- Hoyos, A, and M Perez Arm Dynamic Definition by Liposculpture and Fat Grafting Oxford Academic; 2012-11-01
- GB Forbes Body Fat Content Influences the Body Composition Response to Nutrition and Exercise PubMed.gov; 2000-05-01
- Paul Cohen, Bruce M Spiegelman Cell Biology of Fat Storage PubMed.gov; 2016-08-15
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