Cellulite 101

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Numerous misconceptions about cellulite exist. It’s time to separate fact from fiction.

  1. Cellulite is just common fat

False. Cellulite is different from other types of fat in the body. “Normal” fat lies underneath the skin. Cellulite is compartmentalised fat inside the skin, not underneath it. It is caused by the accumulation of excess fat in between skin and muscle. Cellulite gives a dimpled or lumpy look to the skin. It appears as faint dimples or an “orange peel”, “cottage cheese” texture. Sometimes it may be seen only when the skin is pressed but it can also look much more conspicuous.

  1. Cellulite does not pose any health risk

True. Cellulite is purely a cosmetic condition and not a medical problem, so even perfectly healthy individuals can get cellulite. 

  1. Cellulite only occurs in overweight individuals

False. People of all shapes and sizes can develop cellulite. Many overweight women do not have cellulite while slim women may suffer from it. In fact, cellulite looks more obvious on slim people.

  1. Cellulite only affects women

False. Women are the primary victims of cellulite because they secrete higher levels of estrogen than men do. This drives fat into the fat cells within the subcutaneous layer of the skin, setting off a chain of reactions that forms cellulite. About 90% of women develop cellulite. For men, the figure is about 10%.  

  1. Cellulite is caused by how your skin is connected to your muscles

True.Cellulite is caused by a combination of fatty tissue and the way in which the skin is connected to the muscle tissue underneath. The skin is connected with fibres to the muscle tissue below. In many women these fibres are pulled tight and they pull the skin into the body thus making the fatty tissue between the fibres bulge out. In men, this is usually not the case as the fibres are arranged in a criss-cross fashion and not in a straight manner. 

  1. Young people do not develop cellulite

False. Although cellulite usually worsens with age, it can develop as early as adolescence. Cellulite starts to form as soon as oestrogen levels increase at puberty. 

  1. Cellulite is solely hereditary

False. Genetics play a big part in the occurrence of cellulite but hormones, diet and lifestyle play an important role too.

  1. Stress can cause cellulite

True. When individuals are stressed, they secrete the hormone cortisol which may elevate estrogen in the body and cause cellulite.

  1. Wearing tight clothes and high heels can cause cellulite

True. Tight clothes cause impaired circulation and encourage the pooling of fat, making it look more noticeable. High-heeled shoes do not allow blood to flow well throughout the body. Hence, it can worsen cellulite. 

  1. Drinking plenty of water reduces the appearance of cellulite

False. While it is important stay hydrated, drinking too much water can result in swelling under the skin which makes cellulite appear more pronounced.

  1.  Smoking can cause cellulite

True. Smoking can weaken the skin due to the constriction of capillaries and damage the connective tissue which causes the dimpling effect of cellulite.

  1.  Caffeine and alcohol contribute to cellulite

True. Excessive consumption of caffeine may cause poor blood circulation and has a negative impact on lymph flow, causing a build-up of toxins in your body. Alcohol is a toxin that can increase fat levels in blood, slow down circulation and add additional burden onto the waste removal organs

  1.  A healthy diet can eliminate cellulite

False. Although a healthy diet reduces the appearance of cellulite, it cannot prevent or eliminate it. To help reduce cellulite choose a low-fat, high-protein diet. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fat. Limit your intake of foods high in sodium, as excess sodium can lead to water retention which will give a bloated appearance and exacerbate cellulite.

  1. Exercise gets rid of cellulite

False. Exercise can help smooth out cellulite but cannot get rid of it. Even athletes with very little body fat can develop cellulite. Working out improves circulation, removes excess fluid and tones muscles. Hence skin will look smoother, regardless of the cellulite. Be careful not to overdo it though as too much leg exercises can cause cellulite to appear on the quadriceps!

  1.  Sufficient sleep reduces cellulite

True. You can help improve your skin’s elasticity and firmness if you consistently get the required hours of sleep. Sleep rejuvenates your skin at the cellular level.

  1.  Sitting or standing in a single position for a long time worsens cellulite

True. A sedentary lifestyle has been associated with an increase in cellulite due to bad circulation which results in a lack of oxygen to the cells and also a poor lymphatic system.

  1.  There is no cure for cellulite

Not entirely true. While there is no way to permanently eliminate cellulite and prevent it from forming, there are many treatments that can significantly reduce its appearance. These include lipodissolve, endermology and cellulite creams. Contouring products that contain marine extracts, caffeine or juniper oil are very helpful too. You should also start body brushing; massage towards the heart to boost lymph drainage and your general circulation.

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