The cause of much concern and anxiety in millions of women, few riddles are harder to solve than cellulite. What causes it, how can you rid yourself of it, and why doesn’t it affect everyone? For those in search of an answer, you’re in luck. Here’s what you need to know about cellulite; who gets it, which solutions work, and what doesn’t.

Understanding Cellulite

For those lucky enough to enjoy smooth skin, cellulite gives a lumpy or dimpled appearance to areas of skin generally located on the abdomen, thighs, or buttocks of women. Cellulite can appear as faint dimples or like the texture of an orange peel.

While strictly a cosmetic problem and not a medical condition, cellulite can engender self-conscious feelings in women about their appearance. For some women, cellulite can become very conspicuous, creating large areas of uneven skin, broad dimples, and creases. Even though cellulite appears most commonly on the thighs and backside, it can form on the upper arms, abdomen, and breasts, as well.

What Causes Cellulite to Form?

Many myths circulate about what actually causes cellulite to form and whom it affects, while in actuality anyone could develop cellulite. The formation of cellulite occurs due to fat deposits that sit alongside dense collagen fibers that are held securely to the muscle the lies beneath. When these fibers pull tighter, or the fatty deposits grow larger, the fat may begin to bulge out.

Since cellulite relates to structures within the body and near the skin, anyone can develop cellulite. Slender women, younger women, and even men can all develop cellulite to various degrees.

How noticeable your cellulite depends on a variety of genetic variables and current health conditions. White women, for example, are more likely to develop cellulite than Asian women. Cellulite can also run in the family. So if your mother had cellulite, the odds say you probably will as well. Additional risk factors for cellulite can include changes in hormone levels during pregnancy and the effects of aging.


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Even though you can’t entirely prevent the development of cellulite, you can make several lifestyle choices that could affect its appearance. Yo-yo dieting practices that cause you to lose and then regain weight, diets excessively high in carbohydrates, staying relatively inactive, high body fat, and dehydration can all lead to your cellulite becoming worse.

Treatment Options for Cellulite

While cellulite is caused by genetics, there are a number of preventative measures you can take that will help to reduce the amount of cellulite you have.

Weight Loss

Since fatty deposits cause cellulite, it only makes sense that losing weight would help reduce cellulite. A 2006 study found the appearance of cellulite improved in women who participated in medically supervised weight loss programs that helped them lose an average of 30 pounds. However, a few women who participated in the study found their cellulite worsened, especially if they developed loose skin after losing weight.

Topical Creams

A variety of topical creams on the market claim to improve the signs of cellulite, but are these claims scientifically backed? One study determined that applying creams with retinol to the affected areas of the body for six months could improve the appearance of cellulite. Researchers believe that retinol, a form of vitamin A, causes skin tissue to become thicker, thereby covering up the signs of cellulite. Other studies have suggested that creams containing methylxanthine help to break down fat inside the body and remove the signs of cellulite. However, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery cautions that insufficient evidence exists to currently backup these claims.

Suction Massage

Lipomassage machines use a combination of massage and suction to knead the skin and temporarily reduce the signs of cellulite. Used in dermatology practices and spas, the Food and Drug Administration has approved at least one version of lipomassage for temporary reduction of cellulite. However, once you stop receiving regular treatments, your cellulite is likely to return.


Because the fat that causes cellulite lies so close to the surface of your skin, normal liposuction techniques may actually cause more skin dimpling to occur.


A invasive technique that uses a needle to break apart the connective tissue beneath the skin that causes fat deposits to bulge, subcision is a very expensive procedure that can cause temporary swelling and bruising to occur. The long-term results of subcision have yet to be validate by research.

A Healthy Lifestyle

While diet and exercise can’t get rid of your cellulite, a healthier, toner body can help to minimize the visible effects of cellulite.


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