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What is Cellulite and What Causes It?

Yusuf Wasway

Posted on February 15 2019

What is cellulite and its causes

Cellulite is a problem for women everywhere and it’s something that can affect not just the outward appearance of the skin, but the confidence of the person who has it. Whilst it may only be a cosmetic condition with no negative health implications, its impact can still be felt quite acutely and lead to the sufferer covering themselves up at every opportunity, rather than being rightly proud of their body and wanting to show it off.

It’s a pretty common issue too, as around 85% to 90% of all women are affected by it in some way at some point in their lives. Women who never suffer with it are lucky for sure but they are definitely in the minority. Perhaps if more women realised just how common cellulite is, there wouldn’t be such a stigma attached to it.

So, what exactly is cellulite? What causes it? How can it be prevented or treated? In this two-part blog, we will be answering these questions and more. By reading to the end, you should have a much clearer understanding of the condition and what steps you can take to avoid it and stay feeling super confident in your swimsuit this Summer.

 

Cellulite in Medical Terms 

Known medically as Adiposis Edematosa or Lipodystrophy, cellulite is a condition that results in the surface of the skin becoming dimpled, which has led many to describe it as having an orange-peel like appearance. This is caused by fat cells expanding, bunching together and pushing through the septa, which is the connective tissue that separates fat from the upper layers of skin. 

From a medical standpoint, there are four distinct classifications of cellulite and the one that applies will depend on how acute the condition is. Let’s take a look at each level of the condition in more detail.

Grade Zero is where the skin is completely smooth and there is no evidence of dimpling at all, even when the skin is pinched. This could be considered as cellulite-free skin.

Grade 1 is the first step up the scale, where cellulite is present but is only visible when pinched.

Grade 2 is the next stage is where cellulite can be seen when standing, but disappears when the person lies down.

Grade 3 is the highest level and it’s something that will be evident in the affected area whether lying down or standing up and will appear even more pronounced when the skin is pinched.

The affected areas are typically limited to the buttocks and thighs, but it can also occur on the arms and the abdomen. Most women however complain of cellulite around the back of the upper thighs and buttock area. Cellulite can affect men, but in nowhere near the same frequency, with only around 10% of the male population experiencing cellulite in their lives. This is primarily due to the biological differences between how and where men and women store fat. 

With such a large proportion of the female public affected by cellulite, it is slightly surprising that so much stigma is attached to the condition. Some have pointed to the Photoshopping of celebrity women in the media as a reason why the prevalence of cellulite isn’t more widely known, as any imperfections like these are simply airbrushed away.

 

So, what’s happening inside? 

We’ve so far talked about how cellulite looks from the outside and briefly touched upon what the physical causes are to make skin with the condition appear as it does. Now we look at the specifics of exactly what is occurring under the skin.

Your body stores fat when it has more energy than it needs and it’s these fat cells, which at a molecular level, are tiny fat-filled spheres that are deposited underneath the dermis and epidermis. These upper layers of skin are connected to the lower dermis by tissue not unlike a rubber band and when a normal amount of fat cells exist in the chambers this creates, there’s plenty of room in which these cells to exist. 

However, when said fat cells get bigger, these chambers have less and less and space to reside in, which causes these pockets to bulge, creating a bump on the surface of the skin. The rubber-band-like connective tissue is permanently anchored to the lower dermis, forming a valley and when combined with dimpling, you get the mottled, uneven texture associated with cellulite.

 

What are the causes of cellulite?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to the question of what causes cellulite to take hold, as it can occur for a variety of reasons. Amongst the list of possible causes is a change in hormone levels, weight gain, weight loss, lack of exercise, poor diet and even smoking.

Genes can also play their part, as cellulite can still happen to women who are not overweight, have a good diet and who exercise regularly. It could just be that your anatomy is genetically predisposed to store fat in certain areas in a certain way and the fact that not even diet exercise can fully prevent it from happening gives you some idea of why it affects so many women.

 

How do you prevent or get rid of cellulite? 

The good news is that there are measures that you can take to reduce and even eliminate cellulite from your body and some of the methods are entirely natural and gentle to the system. The bad news is that you’ll have to wait until next week to find out when part two of our blog is published, in which you’ll find a variety of tips and advice on exactly what you can do to avoid this most common of female issues.

One of the main things we wanted to address in the first part of this blog was that cellulite isn’t a rare thing and if you are suffering with it, you are most definitely not on your own. We hope we shown that it’s something that affects most women, so if we can spread the word about how to combat it, we can do a lot of good for a lot of people.

So, for now, it just remains for us to say thank you for reading and we hope to see you next week for part 2.

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