What is Cellulite?

Gynoid lipodystrophy, dermopanniculosis deformans, adiposis edematosa, orange peel syndrome and status protrusus cutis are all medical terms for one of the biggest nightmares females worldwide are facing this summer: cellulite. According to several sources of specialized literature, cellulite is defined by “the herniation of subcutaneous fat within fibrous connective tissue that manifests topographically as skin dimpling and nodularity, often on the pelvic region (specifically the buttocks), lower limbs, and abdomen.” That might seem like a lot to take in, so Medical News Today offers us a simpler definition: “Cellulite is a condition in which the skin appears to have areas with underlying fat deposits, giving it a dimpled, lumpy appearance”. If you are a woman, you are probably going to understand the situation perfectly, as more than 90% of females all across the United States are currently suffering from cellulite. It does not matter if you’re slightly overweight or if you’re super thin; you still have chances of developing the “orange peel syndrome”. The phenomenon goes more back in time than you think, and in order to better understand it, we aim to cover all of the necessary aspects. Discover exactly what is cellulite and much more below.

cellulite-in-history

History

Even though cellulite has become one of the greatest aesthetic problems for women in recent years, the problem dates back to the 1920s. During that time, spas and salons used the term “cellulite” to market the services that they offered. The origins of the word itself are actually in France, initially being pronounced celluleet, thanks to authors Paviot and Alquier. The first attested reference of the word “cellulite” in the English language was in the April 15th 1968 issue of “Vogue” magazine. The editors described the phenomenon and answered the question “what is cellulite?” like this: “Like a swift migrating fish, the word cellulite has suddenly crossed the Atlantic.” A few years afterwards, in 1973, Nicole Ronsard published the book “Cellulite: Those Lumps, Bumps and Bulges You Couldn’t Lose Before”. The book would become an instant success and a best-seller in the United States.

The funny part is that, back then, cellulite was seen quite differently as opposed to modern times. According to Dr. Lionel Bissoon of the Liondale Medical Center in New York, cellulite was a sign of social status and was generally associated with “rich people”. During those times, those who were wealthy were the only ones that could afford to hire staff to drive them wherever they pleased. Even more so, wealthy folks always treated themselves to rich foods and ended up being slightly plumper than the others. The fact that all the nude art works from Victorian times contained well-rounded ladies now makes a little more sense, right?  Nowadays, it seems like the situation is exactly the opposite; celebs hire world-renowned nutritionists and coaches just to get in shape and have smooth skin with no trace of cellulite.

Causes

The best way to understand (and eventually treat) a problem is to see what causes it in the first place. When it comes down to cellulite, there is no main reason we can put a blame on. There are different factors that apply to each individual, depending on their family history or current state, for example. Some of the most common causes are:

Diet – If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: your diet is critical for preventing cellulite from developing on your legs, bum and thighs. Stay away from junk food and eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible. An unhealthy and unbalanced diet is a main cause that gets cellulite developing.

Skin Type – Another key factor for cellulite's appearance is the type of skin you have. This means that you are prone to cellulite depending on the color of your skin and the thickness of it. If your skin is thin, you are more likely to have visible cellulite.

Age – I hate to break it to you, but unfortunately cellulite does not reduce with age. On the contrary, the older you grow, the more prominent cellulite will be on your skin. All you can do is exercise as often as possible to look and feel great.

Hormones – Research shows that estrogen is the most significant hormone when it comes down to cellulite. Other hormones that specialists believe to contribute to the development of cellulite are noradrenaline, insulin and thyroid hormones.

Weight Change – Carrying out exercises to stay in shape is great, but be careful with the level you take them to. Drastic and quick changes in weight can also stimulate the production of cellulite. This means that if you lose a lot of pounds in a short period of time, your skin might be sagging and you might be witnessing cellulite.

Dehydration – How do you expect your body to eliminate toxins if it’s not properly hydrated? Dehydration is a leading cause of cellulite, which means that we have to be extra careful with drinking the daily recommended amount of water (at least eight full glasses per day).

Being a woman – I’m really sorry to tell you ladies, but the fact that you were born women is why you have cellulite. Studies show that as little as 10% of men have cellulite (and usually those who are overweight) because they tend to have thicker skin than women. On the other hand, more than 90% American women currently have cellulite.

Inactivity – Don’t fancy exercising a lot? Well there you go, that’s probably the reason you have cellulite. If you don’t work out regularly or at least do exercises for about half an hour a day, your body is going to deposit more and more fat. This means that your cellulite will become ever more visible.

Metabolism – If you generally have a slow metabolism, it means that your body is probably prone to producing cellulite. Those with faster metabolisms are less likely to have cellulite.

Genetics – Sometimes having cellulite is not your fault. If it runs in your family (your mother or her mother before her had it), you are probably going to have it as well. This is one of the reasons why even super skinny people have cellulite.

Body Fat – This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you are overweight, you are going to have cellulite. It’s as simple as that. A good and reliable treatment for this situation is to get moving and start eating healthier. You will not only be eliminating cellulite, but you will also be taking better care of your body. Try these out and watch how your cellulite reduces!

Clothing – Believe it or not, your clothing might be whats causing your cellulite. If you love wearing yoga pants, tight undergarments and very slim-fitting clothing, you are not allowing your skin to breathe properly. What helps the most is to wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothing that does not constrain your body.

Lifestyle – Sleepless nights, large amounts of alcohol, not enough water… all of these lifestyle aspects are contributing to your cellulite. Make sure you are always well rested and hydrated and stay away from alcohol in excess.

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Types of Cellulite

You probably didn’t know that cellulite comes in more than one type. While different studies point out different classifications of cellulite, there are three main kinds that women tend to develop. According to dermatologist Dr. Ariel Haus in an article for British website Metro, the three types of cellulite are:

Adipose cellulite – this type of cellulite is characterized by a firm appearance on mostly loose skin.

Oedematous cellulite – it is defined by the retention of fluids and soft cellulite.

Fibrotic Cellulite – this is where the saying “orange peel” came from”. The cellulite is both compact and hard.

Other sources classify cellulite as soft, hard or edematous. The final type is associated with circulatory problems, especially in the leg region.

Stages of Cellulite

Aside from having different types, cellulite also has different stages. The Dermal Institute points out four progressive separate stages of cellulite production:

Stage 1

Dr. Diana Howard describes the first stage of cellulite production as “several phenomena occur(ing) that are invisible to the naked eye”. The skin becomes slowly but surely damaged at the levels of capillaries and blood vessels. After that, fat cells begin to swell more and more, sometimes leading to clumping. She also points out that an increase of Glycosaminoglycans take place and the body begins retaining water.

Stage 2

During the second stage of cellulite, the skin begins to deteriorate more and more and circulatory problems are enhanced. Water retention is on the rise and little gaps begin to form on the skin. The same steps as in stage 1 take place, but only at a higher level. Dr. Howard states that “at this stage, orange peel skin is now evident”.

Stage 3

Deterioration continues stronger than ever and the cell metabolism slows down more and more. The skin is not able to repair itself as usual and protein is not assimilated as well. This leads to developing thinner skin and a more pronounced appearance of cellulite.

Stage 4

The fourth stage of cellulite is quite similar to the third and they usually go hand in hand. One of the main differences is that in stage 4, hard nodules become very visible on the skin. The fat cells can be easily seen and it is very hard to mask. Once you have reached the final stage of cellulite, you relate to the “cottage cheese”, “orange peel” and “dimple” descriptions of cellulite.

Areas with Cellulite

Thankfully enough, not all areas on are body are prone to producing cellulite. There are a few key areas where cellulite almost always exists. The most common areas for cellulite production are:

  • Upper arms
  • Upper legs
  • Thighs
  • Buttocks
  • Stomach

The reason why our body produces cellulite mostly in these regions is that they are the same areas where fat is stored. The lower body is known to be the area with most fat deposited. This is why it’s best to work out and do exercises that focus specifically upon these areas.

What Food & Drinks Cause Cellulite

Like we said previously, your diet is critical for preventing cellulite. There are all sorts of unhealthy types of food out there that are definitely accelerating the production of cellulite in your body.

Salty Food – The more salt your body is consuming, the more prone it is to retaining water. You already know that water retention is a leading cause for cellulite, so cut back on your daily intake of salt as much as you can.

Fatty Meat – The fatter the meat you eat is, the more likely it is to be causing cellulite. It is best to choose low fat meat when going grocery shopping, no matter how tempting the fatter type may be. However, fatty fish can be doing you a world of good. Look for fish with omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel or tuna.

Fast Food – This one is more than obvious; any type of fast food isn’t doing your body any good. This means that you have to ditch the burgers and French fries and going out to McDonald’s. Instead, try a fresh and crisp salad or a bowl of your favorite fruit.

Sweets – You can’t expect to get rid of cellulite by packing in cakes, creams and chocolate. Some of the most dangerous foods from a cellulite point of view are definitely the sweetest variety. The higher the sugar level, the worse. Nevertheless, a little bit of dark chocolate now and then won’t hurt. If you’re craving something sweet, opt for some berries of your choice.

Fried Food – Anything that is fried in oil is dreadfully harming your body. Instead of popping everything into the pan, try slow cooking in your oven or boiling the contents. You will not only be avoiding all that yucky grease that comes with fried food, but you will also be enjoying a way healthier meal.

Alcohol – Little do people know that red wine is one of the most fattening drinks out there. Try avoiding wine, especially in large quantities. Drink as much water as you can every day for your body to be hydrated.  

Processed Goods – Everything that comes in cans or bags at your corner store is probably harming your body more than you would expect it to. Always try to purchase your food fresh from your local market and always check the labels too see the ingredients and calories.

Sodas – It’s natural that soda is not good for your body. By now, I think we have all seen the Coca Cola facts and experiments at least once, enough to know better by consuming it. Did you really think that a substance that can be used to clean up blood and unclog pipes can be doing your stomach any good? Didn’t think so.

Liposuction & Cellulite

Before we get into the subject of treatments that actually work for getting rid of cellulite we want to highlight one of the greatest misconceptions regarding this subject. Repeat after me: liposuction will not help you get rid of cellulite! In fact, in many cases, liposuction can make your situation visibly worse and increase the appearance of cellulite on your skin.

Liposuction focuses upon removing deep layers of fat from your body, whereas cellulite forms just under the surface of your skin. If you have health problems and are greatly overweight liposuction is understandable, but you can’t expect it to get rid of your cellulite as well as your deep fat. Many people who have made the mistake of going through liposuction to eliminate the appearance of cellulite have found that their condition actually worsened. Make sure you always consult a trusted specialist before undergoing any type of aesthetic medical procedure.

What Treatments Actually Work

This leads us to one of our main focuses: treatments. There are so many options out there that it’s hard to trust one that will work. After answering “what is cellulite?” we want to focus upon answering the question “what treatments actually work?”. I regret to inform you that there is no single one treatment out there that will help you completely get rid of cellulite for the rest of your life. Forms of laser therapy such as Celluaze will help you reduce the appearance of cellulite or remove it for a period of time, but you must take care of your body afterwards in order to keep it away.

The most efficient “formula” for getting rid of cellulite is combining a healthy diet with the right amount of exercise and permanent hydration. Besides staying away from the types of fattening food we mentioned above, you are going to need to fill your diet with lovely greens and fruits so it can benefit from essential nutrients. Generally speaking, leafy greens like kale or spinach will work great for your health and body in general. Regarding fruits, berries are wonderful for eliminating cellulite and enjoying a yummy and healthy snack at the same time. Never ever forget to drink plenty of water all throughout the day.

As far as exercises are concerned, you are going to need to start working! At least thirty minutes of exercise daily is recommended for staying away from cellulite, usually in the form of cardio or strength exercises. Focus upon the key areas where cellulite usually develops (upper arms, upper legs, thighs, buttocks, stomach) and put those muscles to work!

Is there a Miracle Cream out there?

You probably noticed that we did not mention any type of anti-cellulite cream in the previous part of our article. That is because there is no such product that will make you get rid of cellulite for good. You can lather your skin will all of the lotions in the world and still suffer from that orange peel effect. Most creams that are advertised as anti-cellulite products will help you achieve firmer, smoother and more toned skin, but they will not succeed in eliminating the dimples altogether. If you use these creams and follow the diet and exercise steps detailed above, your chances of making cellulite disappear will indeed increase.

It saddens us to see that there are so many creams that promote the idea of leaving your skin cellulite-free, but that actually don’t make it possible. These products can become extremely expensive and a waste of both time and money if you don’t manage to get that work out plan figured out. Results usually begin to appear after a few months of using the product daily, making you spend more and more cash each month when you could be getting into shape in a healthy an natural way. If you want to use a cream to aid you in the process, many specialists recommend products that contain retinoids for fighting off cellulite. Moreover, we recommend that you frequently exfoliate your skin in order to remove all those dead skin cells causing clogging. It’s very easy to make one at home, based on a natural abrasive like sugar or salt, mixed with a hydrating element like olive oil or any other essential oils.

The Laser Surgery Experience

Nevertheless, there is a form of non-invasive treatment out there that has taken the media and women worldwide by storm in recent years. Laser surgery is known to be one of the closest options to getting rid of cellulite available. The entire procedure will cost you a few thousand dollars, but patients that underwent laser therapy stated that they saw results soon after their surgery. One of the most popular forms of laser surgery is Cellulaze, which has also enjoyed wide coverage both on television and in the online press.

The procedure begins by a doctor marking the areas where the laser will be inserted into your skin. The incisions are very tiny and won’t leave you with scars in the long run. A small laser is afterwards inserted in order to melt the fat that built up under the first layer of your skin. Side effects include reddening and slight irritation, but these will pass soon after the procedure.

Photo credits: Bellanyc.com, Weyergans.com.

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