Who Gets Cellulite?

There are 5 major factors determining who will be affected by cellulite:

1. Gender - Due to the underlying structure of fat and connective tissue described above, women are more likely to develop cellulite than men.

2. Genetics - Empirically, it has been found that the degree and presence of cellulite, as with body shape, is often similar between females within the same family.

3. Race - Caucasian women are more likely to develop cellulite than women of African-American descent.

4. Weight - The greater the amount of fat present in the deeper layers of the skin, the greater the appearance of cellulite on the skin surface. Therefore, weight loss is an advantage in helping to minimise cellulite.

5. Age and Hormones - Women develop cellulite after puberty. It is believed that oestrogen may play a role in the onset of cellulite in adult women.


What is Cellulite?

Cellulite is a commonly used term to describe skin surface irregularities and dimpling occurring predominately on the thighs and buttocks. It is often described as resembling the surface of an orange peel. Cellulite affects women more often than men. Approximately 85% of women over the age of 20 have some degree of cellulite. The anatomy and pathophysiology of this condition is poorly understood. It appears to be related to the structure of the skin and the underlying superficial layer of fat. The skin is connected to the deeper soft tissue via fibrous strands that pass from the dermis (the lower layer in the skin) through the fat, to the fascia (deeper tissue beneath the fat). The way in which these fibrous strands divide the fat has been shown to be different in women compared to men, accounting for the greater incidence in women. In women these fibrous strands run through the fat, segregating it into channels resembling a down quilt. As the fat layer expands it pushes through the overlying skin within these compartments giving a puckered appearance to the skin. In men these strands are arranged in a criss-cross pattern which prevents the dimpling effect. Interestingly, no differences in blood circulation have been demonstrated in cellulite skin compared to normal skin.

What Works? Cellulite Treatments

Unfortunately, the predisposing factors outlined opposite are difficult if not impossible to alter, making prevention of cellulite currently unattainable. The following treatments may help:

  1. Weight Loss and Exercise - Minimising the amount of fat present in the deeper layers can help reduce the appearance of cellulite. Firming the underlying muscles can have a similar benefit.
  2. Keeping the Overlying Skin Looking Good - This can be done by using a moisturiser to prevent a dry, dull skin texture which can accentuate the dimpled appearance.
  3. Liposuction - This involves the surgical removal of fat tissue to improve body contour and shape. Liposuction may improve the appearance of cellulite by reducing local fat volume and by disrupting the fibrous bands that cause the dimpling. However, in some cases, it has been shown to make cellulite worse.
  4. Creams - So far there have been no legitimate studies indicating that topical preparations aimed at treating cellulite are effective. The supposed benefits reported in some studies were not seen as relevant once adjustments for fluid retention and weight loss in the patients were factored in.
  5. Endermologie - Endermologie is a French technique that involves using a hand held suction machine to massage, compress and roll cellulite-affected tissue. The aim is to increase blood and lymphatic flow and to modify the underlying tissue. A series of treatments is required. Any perceived benefits are temporary and therapy must be continued to maintain results. It is certainly not a cure for cellulite.



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