Cellulite: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

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Cellulite is fat deposits beneath the skin, giving it a dimpled look, mostly affecting women around hips, thighs, and buttocks. It’s harmless but may bother some. While not entirely preventable, treatments can help improve its appearance. This article clarifies what cellulite is, its causes, and available treatments.

What is Cellulite?

Cellulite is when your skin looks uneven and lumpy, often found on hips, thighs, or buttocks. It happens when fat under the skin is pulled down by connective tissue bands, creating an uneven surface.

Common areas include hips, thighs, abdomen, buttocks, and breasts. It mostly affects women due to differences in fat, muscle, and connective tissue distribution. It’s estimated to affect 80 to 90 percent of women, but it’s not harmful.

What’s the difference between cellulite and lipedema?

Lipedema is a medical condition causing excess fat accumulation, typically in the buttocks, thighs, and calves, sometimes in the upper arms. It can lead to sensitive, painful skin, swelling, and texture changes, affecting walking ability.

Cellulite, on the other hand, is a cosmetic issue mostly seen on the stomach, buttocks, and thighs, resembling cottage cheese, oatmeal, or an orange peel. While embarrassing in appearance, it’s not typically painful.

Causes of Cellulite

The exact cause of cellulite is uncertain, but it likely arises from the interplay between connective tissue beneath the skin’s surface and underlying fat. In women, vertical arrangement of fat cells and connective tissue can lead to protrusion, creating cellulite. Men, with a criss-cross structure, are less prone to it.

Several factors contribute to cellulite development:

1. Hormonal and Age Factors

Hormones like estrogen, insulin, and others influence cellulite formation. Decreased estrogen levels, such as during menopause, can reduce blood flow and collagen production, making fat more visible. Aging also reduces skin elasticity, increasing cellulite risk.

2. Genetic Factors

Certain genes affect metabolism speed, fat distribution, ethnicity, and circulation, impacting cellulite likelihood.

3. Dietary and Lifestyle Factors

While cellulite isn’t caused by toxins, unhealthy habits can increase risk. Diets high in fat, carbs, salt, and low in fiber may worsen cellulite. Smoking, sedentary lifestyles, prolonged sitting or standing, and tight clothing can also contribute. Cellulite is more common in overweight individuals but can affect slim people too, typically emerging after age 25 but also in younger individuals, including teenagers.

Medical Procedures for Cellulite Reduction

Several medical procedures, performed by a doctor or dermatologist, can help reduce cellulite:

  1. Cryolipolysis (CoolSculpting): Freezes fat cells beneath the skin, causing them to rupture and be absorbed by the body. Multiple treatments may be needed over several months for noticeable results.

  2. Ultrasound: Uses sound waves to target and eliminate fat in the abdomen and thighs. Results typically take two to three months and are often combined with other cellulite treatments. There are some cavitation machines you can buy if you want to try.

  3. Cellfina: Breaks up tough bands under the skin with a needle to reduce cellulite on the thighs and buttocks. Results can be seen in as little as three days and last up to three years.

  4. Acoustic Wave Therapy: Vibrates connective tissue to stimulate collagen production, improving skin appearance, texture, and elasticity. Multiple treatments are required.

  5. Laser and Radiofrequency Treatments: Use various technologies to treat cellulite by breaking up tough bands under the skin and stimulating collagen production. Improvements are seen after several treatments, lasting six months or longer.

  6. Vacuum-Assisted Precise Tissue Release: Breaks up tough bands with a device containing small blades, allowing tissue to move upward to fill in dimpled skin. Results may last up to three years.

  7. Carboxytherapy: Carbon dioxide is injected beneath the skin to increase blood flow and reduce cellulite appearance. Results may be seen after 7 to 10 treatments, but discomfort and bruising are possible.

Home Remedies for Treating Cellulite

Here are some lifestyle changes that may help improve the appearance of cellulite:

  1. Weight Management: Neither rapid weight loss nor gain guarantees cellulite reduction. For some, weight gain accentuates cellulite, while weight loss may lead to looser skin, making cellulite more noticeable. Consult your healthcare provider for weight management advice tailored to your health needs.

  2. Proper Nutrition: A balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein can strengthen skin and connective tissues, reduce inflammation, and prevent water retention, potentially diminishing cellulite’s appearance. Staying hydrated is also essential.

  3. Exercise: Aerobic and endurance exercises like cycling can reduce cellulite by lowering body fat levels, improving circulation, and toning cellulite-prone areas.

  4. Quit Smoking: Smoking accelerates skin aging by damaging connective tissue, collagen, and skin fibers. Avoiding or quitting smoking is crucial for overall health and to protect against cellulite development.

  5. Collagen Supplementation: Collagen, vital for healthy connective tissues, diminishes with age. Consuming collagen-rich foods like bone broth and pork skin, or taking collagen supplements along with adequate protein, vitamin C, zinc, and copper, may improve skin elasticity and reduce cellulite appearance.

Traditional Remedies for Cellulite

Several traditional medicines and treatments are purported to reduce cellulite appearance, including:

  1. Ginkgo Biloba: This herbal product from traditional Chinese medicine may increase blood flow to areas like the stomach, legs, and buttocks, potentially reducing cellulite visibility.

  2. Grape-Seed Extract: Used in European traditional medicine, grape-seed extract also enhances blood flow, potentially aiding in cellulite reduction.

  3. Cupping: A practice from Chinese and Middle Eastern medicine, cupping involves placing cups on the skin and using suction to lift it. Limited studies suggest it may decrease cellulite, but more research is needed.

  4. Dry Brushing: Massaging the skin with a dry, stiff-bristled brush can temporarily increase blood circulation and reduce cellulite appearance, although evidence is lacking for long-term effectiveness.

  5. Handheld Massage Devices and Rollers: While some use these tools to break up cellulite, there’s no evidence to support their long-term efficacy in reducing cellulite appearance. But if you want to try, you can get the CaviPRO Cellulite Remover.

While these methods are widely used, scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness in reducing cellulite appearance is limited.

Can Cellulite be Prevented?

Maintaining circulation in areas prone to cellulite, like the buttocks and thighs, is crucial. Exercise and movement help, especially for those with sedentary jobs. Regular massage can also help reduce cellulite occurrence. Additionally, reducing consumption of refined, processed, and sugary foods, which are thought to contribute to cellulite, is recommended.


1. How common is cellulite?

Cellulite affects 80% to 90% of women after puberty and less than 10% of men. Factors like genetics, sex, age, body fat, and skin thickness influence its visibility. Aging and weight gain can exacerbate its appearance.

2. How does cellulite affect the body?

Cellulite doesn’t harm physical health but may affect self-esteem due to its appearance.

3. When to see a doctor?

Treatment isn’t necessary, but if concerned, consult a primary care doctor, dermatologist, or plastic surgeon for options.

4. Is cellulite contagious?

No, cellulite isn’t contagious; it can’t spread through skin-to-skin contact.

5. How is cellulite diagnosed?

Cellulite is easily recognizable, but a healthcare professional can confirm it during a physical exam.

6. Can cellulite be eliminated?

While cellulite is natural and can’t be entirely eradicated, its appearance can be improved through various methods.

7. Can exercise reduce cellulite?

Regular exercise, including running, cycling, and resistance training, can help improve cellulite appearance by increasing muscle mass and blood flow, aiding fat loss.

8. What should I avoid eating if I have cellulite?

While you can eat what you like, poor dietary habits high in calories, carbohydrates, fats, preservatives, and salt may increase cellulite development risk.

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