Cellulite affects women of all ages. Much dreaded dents may appear all of a sudden when we catch a glimpse of our backside in a mirror. Sometimes we just don't want to look at our reflection because cellulite dwells on our hips already!
If this sounds familiar, you are not the only one experiencing the "orange peel" look.
Trust me, if you see thighs as smoonth as in the image above, it was 99% airbrushed!
Here we tried to find the problem-solving answers to the most popular questions about cellulite:
Dimpled skin on the thighs did not bother women up until the mid 20th century, when in 1968 "Vogue" magazine introduced the new word to the public.
Then all of a sudden everybody discovered themselves affected by this new and fashionable predicament and started to look for a cure.
No cure was found and there is no way to find one because cellulite is not a disease.
It is a part of women's natural physique. It has to do with the shape of the subdermal fat cells. Each cell sits in its own "pocket" created by connective tissue. There is a whole layer of such "pockets" called the hypoderm.
Our hypoderm looks just like a pocket sprung mattress! There is nothing that can be done about it.
The opposite sex has a different type of hypoderm. It is as simple as that.
Men's hypoderm does not have vertical pockets - their fat cells are aligned like a lattice.
It does not mean that they do not have bumpy skin at all. But because of the way their fat cells are nested men's skin never gets that "cottage cheese" look.
Besides, men also have much thicker skin -- literally. Last, but not least: their strategic fat deposits are placed one floor up, at the belly and torso.
Cellulite means that you are overweight.
- Not necessarily. Full-bodied women can have very lightly dimpled skin while slender ones can boast a distinctive "orange peel".
This can be genetically predefined: the thickness of the skin and the elasticity of connective tissue.
Celebrities and models do not have cellulite.
- False. Remember it is not a health issue, it is the way our fat cells are aligned. If you are a female, you have cellulite. It can be just skin-deep or manifesting itself in full, but it is still there.
Cellulite means that you live an unhealthy life, eat junk food and do not excerice.
- Absolutely not! Athletic women also have cellulite. No matter how hard you work in the gym and how much spinach you eat, if you are not genetically blessed with thicker skin, you will have some of that orange peel skin.
The trick here is to lower the amount of body fat to the level where the "emergency supply" is depleted too. Anyone who has dieted knows that the hips are the very last area to lose fat. And the first to gain those extra pounds back!
Cellulite started to affect younger people. Before, only obese or elderly women had cellulite.
- If you read all of the above you already know that this is nonsense. As soon as women reach puberty and their hypoderm fully develops, they become walking energy storage. Thus, they have cellulite.
100% of post-puberty females experienced one of the types of cellulite or will in the future, regardless of weight.
First of all, we need to accept the fact that cellulite is natural. It may not be desired, but it is a gift from Mother Nature - and she does not give them without meaning.
Cellulite is extra storage for calories and an evolutionary advantage. For millennia, famine was a common inevitable event. Female bodies learned how to put any available extra calorie aside and store it securely.
When fat cells get fuller, they push up against the skin, while the connective tissue pulls them down, just like a tuft in a cushion.
You lose weight - cellulite fades away, you gain - it pops up again. So the only way to remove cellulite is to remove extra fat cells.
Check out this awesome animation from Skin Deep Laser MD that illustrates how fat cells grow
Nothing is ideal in this world and even a well-thought mechanism can go highwire. Abnormal fat cell can become a pathological condition called lipedema. It is a health disorder that affects 10 to 15% of the female population. It can be mistakenly confused with cellulite and must be treated by a doctor.
How to distinguish between the two?
Here, the cellulite classification may help. There is no scientific classification, but let's put it like this:
All of the above is natural and mostly harmless, but you should watch for those signs that may indicate the beginning of lipedema:
- symmetrical swelling of the affected areas;
- "spongy" feel of the skin;
- easy bruising;
- the cellulite is painful to the touch;
- excessive spider veins.
There is nothing wrong with having cellulite and nothing wrong with trying to get rid of it.
It is a personal preference, just like removing the hair on the legs or in the armpits: we all have bodily hair but we do not think of it as a health condition and remove it as we please just for aesthetic purposes.
When cellulite can not be eliminated it can be made less visible by a number of lifestyle changes.
Some skincare products and treatments will improve the appearance of cellulite. Also, heavy artillery is available in the form of invasive medical procedures, such as fat dissolving injections or mechanical liposuction.
It is up to you to choose to what extent you would like to go to get rid of these unwanted skin dimples.
Getting rid of cellulite takes a lot of patience. It can become costly as well.
For example, QWO treatment, which is the injection of the enzyme that breaks down connective tissue, would cost $450-$1200 per session. It is a relatively easy (but not painless) way to get rid of cellulite.
Other expensive procedures are liposuction, cryodestruction, and shockwave therapy.
If you are not ready to subject yourself to such drastic measures, but still determined to fight the "orange peel" skin, consider putting in the effort to change your lifestyle and skincare routine.
Now we know that cellulite is not something that cannot be improved. If the cell's fat deposits deplete, the cellulite becomes less bumpy and less visible.
As mentioned before, the only way to do this is to reduce the body fat percentage to some reasonable ratio. There is nothing new about this - eat less, move more, spend those stored calories.
It is not necessary to exercise yourself to exhaustion, just come up with a way to spend more calories than you consume. The body will have to take energy from those fat cells.
It may require serious dedication because, remember, the fat on the thighs is the toughest to lose.
Getting rid of the fat is not easy but we can approach the cellulite problem from a different angle and try to improve the skin elasticity.
When we are younger it is not a concern, but as we age the skin would really appreciate some help.
It can include all types of massages, electrical beauty treatments, and skincare products. Make sure that you eat healthily or take supplements that would help the skin to remain elastic.
One of the reasons we start to look old is that we lose the muscle mass. This happens as we age, when we do not have enough physical activity or our nutrition is poor.
After age of 30 we lose as much as 3-5% of our muscle mass every 10 years. With the extended life span it becomes a major concern as it directly affects the quality of life.
Weak, wasting muscles are not able to shape our body anymore and it becomes flabby.
Adding insult to injury the cellulite takes its toll and we end up with flabby "cottage cheese" skin. Guess what body part suffers the most?
If you decided to step on the warpath with cellulite, choose the right weapon. You may not be able to change the way your body shapes those fat cells. But you can definitely reduce the appearance of the "orange peel".
Lifestyle changes may not solve the problem as desired. This is the time to call in the cavalry.
Let's review the anti-cellulite arsenal.
Try the following:
- dry brush massage, easy and affordable. In fact, any energetic self massage will do;
- skin tightening creams, creams that increase circulation;
- electrical massagers that mimic hand massage;
- electrical massagers that use static electricity;
- heat treatments, like electrical FIR wraps or saunas.
None of this will reduce or affect the fat inside the cells, but it will make the skin and connective tissue more elastic, thus a smoother look.
Some non-invasive technologies will affect the skin on a deeper level. These are usually professional medical spa treatments that aim to increase circulation and tighten the skin.
They are much less time-consuming than DIY measures that have to be repeated almost every day month after month. Usually, it would take a few visits once or twice a month.
Skin needling is one of these treatments.
The rollers sold online will not work, because the needle needs to reach a connective tissue to break the tension and release the tufting.
Consider a Cellfina procedure.
The needle enters the skin horizontally and pierces the strands of the fibrous cords between the cells, releasing the overlying skin.
You will have some serious bruising and the results will be visible in about 3 months and will last 2-4 years.
Electrotherapy treatments are very popular med spa procedures.
These can be radio-frequencies, ultrasound wave therapy to disrupt the fat cells. Often combined with vacuum massage.
Consider Vellashape, or Thermage, or Ulthera.
Sounds a bit extreme, but this actually means destroying fat cells, chemically or mechanically.
Injections use enzymes that melt the cell's "nest", the fat cell itself, or both. It takes two or three painful injections and... voila!...the fat cells are gone in a few weeks.
Examples of such treatments:
QWO - dissolves the connective tissue that forms the cells' compartments, changing the way they are structured;
Lipolytic injections - the fat cells are dissolved by bile acids. In the USA the only product approved so far is Kybella.
Another way is to do it mechanically. A needle is inserted into the fat layer to destroy the cell and suck out the debris. This procedure is called Liposuction.
All the fancy names on the market are variations or combinations of the above methods.
As with everything else, the systematic approach works the best. You choose the strategy. Armed with knowledge, resources, and patience you can start your anti-cellulite journey at any time.
You can decide what would work for you best: topical home anti-cellulite treatments, non-invasive procedures at the beauty center, or invasive procedures at the clinic. You can combine all of the above.
Your "treatment strategy" may be planned for years ahead - be smart, build up your skincare with your future body changes in mind.
This article is for informational and educational purposes only and does not substitute professional advice on any subject matter. You should consult your healthcare professional if you are seeking a medical or medical related advise, or intend to use and act upon any information provided in this article.