Causes Cellulite

What Causes Cellulite and How to Get Rid of It?

What is Cellulite?

Cellulite is a skin condition characterized by a lumpy or dimpled appearance. It is a direct result of underlying fat deposits pushing up against the connective tissue of the skin. The condition is commonly found on the buttocks and thighs, and it usually develops during or after puberty. It is also known as adiposis edematosa, status protrusus cutis, cottage cheese skin, orange peel syndrome and the mattress phenomenon.

Cellulite Classification

Cellulite is classified using three grades:

Cellulite Classification
  • Grade 1 Cellulite – In this classification, there is no clinical symptom but underlying anatomical changes can be seen when a microscopic examination is done.
  • Grade 2 Cellulite – The skin exhibits pallor, lower temperature, and there is a lower elasticity. In addition, there are anatomical changes seen when microscopic examinations are done.
  • Grade 3 Cellulite – In this classification, there is roughness in the appearance of the skin in addition to grade 2 signs.

Cellulite Symptoms

Cellulite simply appears to be dimpled or bumpy skin appearing like cottage cheese or the peel of an orange. For mild cellulite, it is only seen when the skin is pinched. Severe cellulite causes the skin to look bumpy and rumpled, and there are peaks and valleys. It usually develops in the buttocks and thighs but can also be found on the lower part of the abdomen, breast and upper arms.

What Causes Cellulite?

Cellulite is a direct result of the fibrous connective cords binding the skin to the underlying muscle. The fat is found in between and as fat cells grow, they push up against the skin while the cords pull down creating the dimpling or uneven surface of the skin.

Cellulite Risk Factors

The exact reason for the development of cellulite is still unclear but there are certain factors that increase the risk of developing the skin condition.

Genetics – This is thought to play a very important role in the development of cellulite. If you have a parent or sibling with cellulite, then there is a high chance that you will also have it.

Hormone Fluctuations – People with hormonal conditions, are more likely to develop cellulite in certain parts of the body. Estrogen is closely linked to cellulite development which is the reason it is more common in women than men.

Aging – The skin loses its elasticity as a person gets older which can worsen the appearance of cellulite or cause its development.

Weight Gain – Gaining weight can worsen the appearance of cellulite or cause Grade 1 cellulite that is not visible to become Grade 2 or 3 cellulite.

How Can Cellulite Be Prevented?

Elizabeth Farhat

One way to prevent cellulite is to reduce consumption of refined and processed foods. This is because sweeteners, chemicals, and additives promote the development of cellulite. Many experts also believe that dairy and high-fat products contribute to the development of cellulite. Lack of circulation also contributes to cellulite so exercising regularly may help in its prevention. Since hormonal abnormalities also promote cellulite, it would be very helpful to get a medical check-up regularly to make sure you don’t have any hormonal abnormalities. Detoxification is also important since toxins can contribute to cellulite development so drinking plenty of water and consuming a diet rich in natural foods can help in cellulite prevention.

Myths and Facts about Cellulite


  • Toxins in the body primarily cause cellulite
  • Only a dermatologist can treat cellulite
  • The clothing you wear can directly cause cellulite
  • Cellulite only develops in overweight and obese individuals
  • Liposuction can get rid of cellulite
  • Cardiovascular exercise is the best way to eliminate cellulite


  • Smoking can worsen cellulite
  • Women are more prone to cellulite than men
  • Cellulite gets worse as a person gets older
  • There is still no permanent solution to cellulite
  • Exercise can help reduce the visibility of cellulite
  • There are foods that can help reduce cellulite
  • Non-invasive procedures work in reducing cellulite
  • There are topical formulations that can help reduce the appearance of cellulite

Treatments for Cellulite

Topical Treatments – There are special formulations designed to reduce the appearance of cellulite. For instance, 0.3% retinol cream has been shown to reduce the appearance of cellulite within 6 months of use. There are also products that contain natural and other proven active ingredients for reducing cellulite. Check the active ingredients carefully and make sure they are proven to be effective and safe before purchasing.

Weight Loss – Following a well-balanced diet and getting regular exercise can help reduce the visibility of cellulite in certain parts of the body. Resistance training can also help target problem areas with severe cellulite. However, the benefits of weight loss are limited, so it is best combined with other treatments like topical formulations or non-invasive procedures.

Laser and Radiofrequency Procedures – This is the most promising medical treatment for cellulite. There are many procedures that utilize laser and radiofrequency technology to reduce and eventually get rid of cellulite in particular areas of the body. The problem with this option is the high cost which is due to the highly advanced machines that are used in the procedures.

Total Cellulite Treatments

Liposuction – When fat cells are removed, the severity of cellulite usually lessens. However, liposuction is not always effective and in some cases can worsen cellulite. There are newer forms of cellulite particularly laser-assisted liposuction which works to destroy fat cells and tighten the skin which are more effective in reducing cellulite.

Dietary Supplement – There are many oral anti-cellulite products that are available today but there is little evidence that these are really effective in eliminating or even reducing the visibility of cellulite. These products usually contain fat burning ingredients and those that improve circulation or work to tighten the skin.

Massage Treatments – There are several machines that are designed to target cellulite. Rolling cylinders are used to target specific areas of the skin and reduce the appearance of cellulite. One example is Endermologie which is approved by the United States FDA but only for temporary reduction of cellulite.

Mesotherapy – This is a controversial cellulite treatment that involves the injection of drugs or other substances directly into the parts of the body with cellulite. This requires several treatment sessions and the cost is quite high. However, there is still not enough evidence that mesotherapy is highly effective in reducing cellulite.

Wraps – Many health spas and salons offer anti-cellulite wraps using herbal and other components. This is still not proven to be effective in permanently reducing cellulite although it works temporarily since the treatments reduce fluid retention thus improving the appearance of the skin.

Cellulite Diets – Some experts propose special diets to treat cellulite. These diets usually reduce consumption of processed and preserved food items and increase consumption of natural foods like fruits and vegetables. This method also utilizes natural anti-inflammatory foods and those that help improve circulation.

Cellulite FAQs

Why do Women get Cellulite more Frequently than Men?
There is a combination of factors that cause women to be more prone to the development of cellulite. Essentially, this is because of the unequal amounts of subcutaneous fat in women together with the variable thickness and denseness of the dermis along with epidermis. Some men also have unequal amounts of subcutaneous fat and variable thickness and denseness of the skin layers so they also have cellulite in certain parts of the body. Women also have more estrogen in the body which according to experts promotes the development of cellulite. Some studies indicate that men who have a high level of estrogen are significantly more prone to cellulite.

Weight or Size

Does Cellulite worse with Age?
Yes, cellulite worsens with age mainly because the connective tissue in the dermis are becomes looser as a person ages. Also, the skin becomes less elastic which worsens the appearance of cellulite. It is also natural for someone to gain weight as he/she gets older which makes cellulite worse.

Can the Foods you eat impact Cellulite?
Many experts believe that consuming a higher amount of unprocessed foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables may help reduce the appearance of cellulite. Also, there are certain foods that help improve skin health and have natural anti-inflammatory properties which may reduce the visibility of cellulite. Processed and preserved foods are also believed to worsen cellulite since these typically promote fat gain and water retention.

If you Lose Weight, will you Automatically Lose Cellulite?
The answer is generally no because many people still have cellulite even after losing a considerable amount of weight. Losing weight can reduce the visibility of cellulite in certain parts of the body, and it can even make cellulite unnoticeable in certain individuals but it generally doesn’t eliminate cellulite. Many people with normal weight and even those who are underweight have cellulite.

Why is Cellulite more Prevalent in the thighs and Buttocks?
Generally, women have a higher percentage of body fat compared to men. In women, the thighs and buttocks tend to store more body fat due to the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL). Women have a higher concentration of LPL in the hip and thigh region which is the reason cellulite is more prevalent in the thighs and buttocks.

Is Cellulite Hereditary?
Many experts believe that cellulite is hereditary. If you have a parent or sibling with cellulite, then there is a high possibility that you will also have cellulite. One reason for this is because the fat deposition is hereditary although the exact percentage is still not known. There is a significant hereditary component to fat deposition and the development of cellulite.

Does Massage help Reduce Cellulite?
Massage and body manipulation techniques are among the most popular treatments for cellulite. These basically work by reducing fluid accumulation in the dermis area which can help reduce the appearance of cellulite. However, the cellulite is not removed, and the effect is only temporary. Other cellulite treatments are more effective especially in regards to permanent reduction of cellulite.

Is there any Benefit from Cellulite Exercises?
In general, losing the excess weight can help reduce the appearance of cellulite and as previously stated it can even make cellulite unnoticeable in certain individuals. Cardiovascular exercise and resistance training are the two most effective forms of exercise for reducing cellulite. Cardiovascular exercise promotes faster weight loss but resistance training is more effective since it tones particular areas of the body. With resistance training, the individual can focus on particular areas of the body where the cellulite is located.

Do Topical Formulations Work?
The truth is that most topical cellulite formulations do not work. However, there are some that are highly effective and contain clinically proven ingredients. You need to know which active ingredients are proven to be effective. Two of the most effective ingredients for targeting cellulite are Adiposlim and Adipoless. Adiposlim promotes the breakdown of fat and in one study, 71% of subjects experienced a significant reduction in the appearance of their cellulite in the thigh area. Adipoless essentially works to prevent the development or re-appearance of cellulite by interfering with the processes for fat production. If you’re in the market for a topical anti-cellulite formulation, make sure to look for products with these active ingredients.

What Really Works?
The best way to have the most considerable results in reducing cellulite is to combine several cellulite treatments specifically topical formulations, anti-cellulite exercises and special diets for reducing cellulite. In most cases, you can experience significant results in a few months. Of course, you need to make sure the topical formulation contains active ingredients that are clinically proven to be effective and safe.

Include cardiovascular exercise and resistance training in your exercise program to get the most cellulite reduction results possible. Consume mostly highly nutritious, natural foods and as much as possible avoid the intake of processed and preserved food items. If this doesn’t work then you may need anti-cellulite procedures so consult your health care professional about the options.


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  2. Rossi, A.B.R. and Vergnanini, A.L. Cellulite: a review. JEADV
  3. Rawlings AV. Cellulite and its treatment. Int J Cosmet Sci.
  4. Kruglikov I. The pathophysiology of cellulite: can the puzzle eventually be solved? J Cosmet Dermatol Sci Appl
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