Its name makes it sound like a medical condition. But cellulite is nothing more than normal fat beneath the skin. The fat appears bumpy because it pushes against connective tissue, causing the skin above it to pucker. Cellulite isn’t harmful. Many people, though, would like to get rid of it because of the way it looks.
Having cellulite doesn’t mean you are overweight. Even thin people can have it. If you are overweight, however, losing weight may reduce cellulite. Cellulite is more common among women than men. If other women in your family have cellulite, there’s a good chance you will too.
Have cellulite? Don’t worry, you are in good company. The cosmetic condition of dimply skin affects 90% of women at some point in their lives. But what do we really know about it other than how annoying it looks in the mirror?
Here are 15 facts to get you more informed.
1. Cellulite is caused by fat deposits, not toxins.
Cellulite is commonly thought to be caused by toxins in the body and some over-the-counter cellulite products claim to help remove impurities and toxins from the body. But there is no scientific proof of this. Cellulite actually occurs when underlying fat deposits begin to push through layers of collagen fibers, or connective tissue, under the skin. This is often in the buttocks and thigh areas, but can also occur on arms and stomachs. It’s not toxins that cause this, but rather weakened lack of exercise and muscle tone, execs fat, poor circulation, or by hormones.
2. Hormones effect the appearance of cellulite.
As a woman ages, her body produces less estrogen, which is a hormone that helps keep blood vessels flowing smoothly. Less estrogen can equal poorer circulation, which can also equal a decrease in new collagen production and the breakdown of older connective tissue. So as you get older, keep those strength and circuit training gym classes coming!
3. Cellulite can actually run in your family.
You may have a gene variant that puts you at higher risk for moderate to severe cellulite. There’s even a test you can take to find out. But, considering most women will develop cellulite in their lifetimes, the text might not be worth its expensive cost. If smooth skin doesn’t run in your family, don’t fret too much. Genetics is only one small part of the cellulite puzzle. Diet, exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight are also key factors.
4. Being in shape is not enough prevent cellulite.
HOW ANNOYING!? Being overweight makes the appearance of cellulite more noticeable, because the more fat you have underneath your skin, the more it’s likely to put stress on your connective tissue and bulge out at the weak spots. But cellulite happens to women of all sizes and shapes, so don’t feel any less motivated to work out! Because you know what?….
5. Exercise DOES reduce cellulite’s appearance.
A regular exercise program can’t cure cellulite but it can help prevent or reduce its appearance, in most cases. Cellulite occurs when connective fibers underneath the skin become weak or lose their elasticity, but stretching and strengthening those areas can help. Especially since exercising helps to burn away excess fat overall. When you firm and tighten your skin, it can help give the illusion of less cellulite. Moves that target the butt and thighs and build muscle help to boost circulation. Speaking of exercise…
6. Cardio is not as important as strength training when it comes to cellulite.
Running or other forms of cardio do help keep weight off, which may reduce the appearance of dimples and dents. But it takes strength training to really smooth out your skin. And by strength training we’re referring to weights. Moderately training with weights three to four times a week doing sets between 7-10 repetitions is ideal for building muscle which in turn can burn fat. And once that fat burns, so does the cellulite.
7. Men do have cellulite but at a much lower rate than women.
Us women may try to tell ourselves that men struggle with cellulite too. Perhaps, but it is a fact that women more often have cellulite, as we tend to carry more fat around their hips and thighs We also have less supportive connective tissue to keep it all sucked in in place. It is estimated, however, that around 10% of men suffer from cellulite.
8. Skin-tightening creams do not cure their cellulite but can help with slimming and body contouring.
Skin-tightening creams may help one believe they are curing their cellulite, but this is unfortunately not the case. Despite what you might read on the labels, no topical creams—prescription or over-the-counter—have been shown to permanently reduce the appearance of cellulite. Studies have found, however, that products containing retinoids (labeled as “retinol”) may create a thicker skin to help camouflage bumps and provide some temporary effects. The creams help more with slimming and body contouring, which is different than helping with cellulite.
There is limited evidence that creams or scrubs with stimulant ingredients, like caffeine, ginger, and green or black tea, may help improve circulation and breaking down fat-cell stores, but the evidence is less proven.
9. Skin fillers can help even out dimply skin
Injectable dermal fillers like Restylane and Radiesse are used primarily to plump up sagging cheekbones and remove facial wrinkles. They have also been shown to be beneficial, at least temporarily, for sections of the skin that are plagued by cellulite. You can compare it to putting frosting on a lumpy cake to make it look better. If you are really skinny and have a few deep divots, a filler can help plump those up nicely.
Unfortunately, the procedure can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per leg, with results tending to only last a few months.
10. Non-invasive procedures for cellulite work
Massage, laser, and radio-frequency techniques have been used for several years to help reduce the appearance of cellulite. The results are not permanent, but they are effective in the short-term, working better than some drug-store cream. If you have the time and money to spend on them, it can be worth it! Some treatments (like TriActiv and VelaSmooth laser treatments) require 10 to 15 sessions to significantly improve appearance and require monthly appointments for maintenance. Others (like the radio-frequency treatment Thermage CL) are more expensive but the results last between six months to a year.
11. Liposuction isn’t helpful
Liposuction could even make fat distribution more uneven, actually worsening cellulite’s outward appearance. But another vacuum-like (but non-surgical) procedure, Endermologie, has been shown to help. During Endermologie, a technician runs a suctioning device surrounded by rollers over a patient’s skin, pulling and squeezing trouble spots for about 30 minutes. Results are visible after about 10 visits (two per week), which can cost $80-$150 each.
12. Certain foods can help with cellulite
Your diet alone can’t determine whether you will or will not get cellulite, but eating a well-balanced, diet heavy in plants can help reduce inflammation in the body and help with maintaining a healthy body weight. If you stay hydrated by drinking water and by eating plenty of high water content foods, this keeps your connective tissue strong and supple, and can help with weight loss. Aim to eat more cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, and bell peppers, which, along with many other fruits and vegetables, are all more than 90 percent water.
13. Cellulite is not a medical condition, so you might not need a dermatologist to help with treatments
A skin doctor is a good place to start when it comes to addressing cellulite, and many dermatologists do perform treatments in their clinics. But cellulite is not a medical condition, so it does not require a medical professional to treat it. Medi-spas can also perform treatments such as Endermologie and non-invasive laser procedures. Just make sure your technician is licensed and has received proper training on whatever device you choose.
But, if you decide to move ahead with a surgical procedure like Cellulaze, then you will need to see a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon. Cellulaze is the most recent and promising procedure and was approved by the FDA in 2012. An optic laser melts fat, breaks up fibrous connective tissue and stimulates the growth of new collagen, all through a pinhole-sized incision in the skin. It works on the fibers pulling down your skin as well as the fat globules that are popping through. Recovery is also nice and quick. You’ll be a bit sore afterwards, but a weekend is all you need to recover. The treatment starts at about $3,500 per leg, but results seem to last at least a year or two.
14. Compression style clothing is just a gimmick
There are certain compression leggings that you can wear when you exercise to reduce thigh jiggle, but it’s only a temporary effect and will not induce any post-workout, post-clothes change. In fact, for some tight clothes, can actually contribute to the appearance of cellulite if they cut off circulation and limit blood flow.
15. Smoking can affect the appearance of cellulite
In case you need another reason to quite smoking…Cigarette smoke has been shown to reduce blood vessel flow and weakens and disrupts the formation of collagen. This allows for the connective tissue to become stretched and damaged more easily and for underlying fat to show through. Plus, smoking causes premature wrinkles and aging, leaves skin dry and discolored, and can contribute to stretch marks.
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