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  • Writer's pictureAli Rislan

Cellulite: What, Why, How?

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

What is cellulite, why do you have it, and how can you reduce it?

Cellulite can be a really difficult condition to deal with and manage. The truth is that it is a misunderstood condition, and with misunderstanding comes misinformation. From home remedies that don't seem to work, to diet routines that have little impact; it can seem like there's no way to reduce cellulite. But, in reality, you can reduce it if you understand what it is, and what causes it.

Your body deserves love, whether you're happy with cellulite or not. So just keep that in mind if you're committed to reducing cellulite or if you decide you're perfectly OK with it. It's not physically harmless after all, you just might not like the look of it.

Keep reading if you've decided you do want to reduce your cellulite because this article is for you. You'll learn everything you need to know about cellulite and 7 ways to reduce its appearance or prevent it.

What is Cellulite?

You may already know what cellulite is, but it'll really help the rest of the article if we characterise it now.

Treat Cellulite | A woman pinching her thigh to show cellulite

Put simply, cellulite is the appearance of lumpy or dimpled skin referred to often as "orange peel". It happens as a result of interactions between fat and connective tissue, commonly in areas such as:

  • The buttocks

  • The back of the thighs

  • The stomach

Cellulite is a very common condition that most commonly affects women. Up to 90% of women have cellulite, so you may have expected to see it more often. But it's not always very visible, as there are different grades of cellulite:

Cellulite | A cartoon illustration of the cellulite grading scale
  • Grade 0; no cellulite in any position.

  • Grade 1; cellulite dimpling appears when pressure is applied, such as sitting down.

  • Grade 2; moderate cellulite dimpling when sitting or standing.

  • Grade 3; severe cellulite standing, sitting, or lying down.

So, we can consider cellulite more of a range or spectrum, rather than something you simply have or don't have. It's also something that develops over time, not overnight. There are a few factors that come into play for how severe your cellulite is, keep reading to learn about them!

Why Do I Have Cellulite?

This has always been a very difficult question to answer. We still don't entirely understand cellulite, but we're more confident in the cause and development of it.

Development of Cellulite

Cellulite develops as a gradual process, not an event, which you may not even notice. Usually, it only appears after puberty, as hormonal changes are one of the drivers in its development.

Cellulite | A scientific illustration of normal skin versus skin with cellulite
  1. Your oestrogen levels will begin to fluctuate after puberty. This hormonal fluctuation causes reduced blood flow to cellulite-affected areas, such as the buttocks and thighs.

  2. This reduced blood flow has a double effect:

    1. Your fat cells will increase in size and number.

    2. You'll have a loss of function in connective tissue. This is because collagen levels drop and the connective tissue becomes less elastic, or "stretchy".

  3. A loss of function in connective tissue means it can't hold the structure of the skin together effectively. Instead of being elastic, it pulls tightly down on the skin. This action pushes fat cells upwards into the surface of the skin. As there are more fat cells and they are larger in size they push upwards enough to protrude.

  4. The result is the dimpled cellulite appearance, often referred to as the "orange peel" appearance. Without corrective action or treatments, this may worsen over time.

Increased Chance of Cellulite

There are a few factors that can increase the chance of developing cellulite. Some are genetic and are hereditary, while others are lifestyle-related. Knowing about genetic factors is useful, but focusing on lifestyle factors is helpful since we can change them!

  • A naturally lower oestrogen level is a risk factor for developing cellulite. Lower oestrogen levels can mean fewer type 1 and type 3 collagen fibres in connective tissue. This lack of collagen means an increased chance of improper function.

  • An unbalanced diet alone may not cause cellulite, but it can certainly worsen its appearance. Eating over your recommended daily calories and not drinking enough water are the main issues to avoid.

  • Stress can cause and worsen a whole host of conditions, and one of them is cellulite. This is because stress can impair blood flow and even have a negative impact on connective tissue function.

  • A lack of exercise can significantly contribute to cellulite's appearance and development. A sedentary lifestyle can compound poor circulation, and a lack of muscle can worsen the appearance and development of cellulite.

So you know what causes the development of cellulite, and what can increase your risk of it. You can use this information to reduce its appearance, as we mentioned earlier, but how?

How Can I Reduce Cellulite?

There are a few ways that you can reduce cellulite, using the knowledge of how it develops. You'll be happy to know that you can even start some of these methods today.

Remember that these 7 methods won't permanently eliminate cellulite. But, they can significantly reduce its visibility to the point where you may no longer notice it.

1. Weight Management

Holding excess body fat isn't necessarily the sole cause of cellulite, but it can definitely make it worse. Therefore weight loss, specifically losing weight in fat, can help reduce cellulite appearance.

Excess body fat can result in more fat cells, and those fat cells swelling in size. This is actually one of the stages in developing cellulite, as you learned earlier. Maintaining a healthy body fat percentage, around 21% to 32%, can help with preventing and minimising cellulite.

Cellulite | A young woman exercising indoors

You shouldn't try to burn fat to reduce cellulite if you're in the healthy body fat and body weight range though. You likely won't see much of a cellulite reduction, and your efforts may be detrimental to your health.

Keep in mind that there are plenty of women with cellulite that are in the healthy body fat percentage range. If you fall into this category, don't worry, the other tips below may help you!

2. Strength Training & Fitness

Improper blood flow worsens connective tissue function, leading to cellulite. Reduced blood flow leads to reduced collagen, as you learned earlier. What's one of the best ways to improve blood circulation throughout the body? Exercise.

Exercise, especially when targeted to affected areas, will improve blood circulation and collagen production. In turn, your connective tissue will become more elastic and better at holding the structures of your skin together; reducing cellulite. A bonus result is a fitter, stronger, and healthier body!

3. Good Hydration

You hear about good hydration having positive effects on you all the time and with good reason. Water makes up the majority of our bodies, so you can imagine it impacts the majority of the body. Even further it impacts the whole body.

Maintaining good hydration helps your blood circulation. Poor circulation is an indirect cause of cellulite, as we mentioned before. So the easiest thing you can do to prevent or reduce cellulite is make sure you're drinking enough water daily.

This is just under 3 litres of water daily, which might sound like a lot if you're not used to it. But, you can build the habit slowly and your body will thank you for it. Think increased energy and mood and even reduced undereye dark circles, not just cellulite.

Cellulite | A woman meditating for stress relief

4. Stress Management

You might not think stress management belongs in a list of tips to improve something physical like cellulite. But in recent years we've learned that stress actually has a pretty significant physical impact as well as mental. In this regard, it does have an impact on cellulite.

Your body produces cortisol under stress, this is why it is commonly known as the stress hormone. Cortisol isn't bad in balance, but in excess, it can be detrimental to cellulite and even your health. Excess cortisol leads to reduced blood flow, which is a direct contributor to cellulite as you learned earlier. This just gets worse when you are chronically stressed, and the effects compound.

Proper stress management techniques are ideal here. Think of regular exercise where possible, routine meditation, and daily breath work when you notice yourself in a higher-stress situation.

5. Collagen Supplementation

Collagen supplementation won't be instrumental in preventing or reducing cellulite, but it can help. Besides, introducing collagen supplements will be good for you in general - so it's not a bad habit to introduce!

Restoring lost collagen, or preventing loss as much as possible in the first place, could help with cellulite.

6. Exilis Body Contouring Treatment

Exilis body contouring is a great option for quickly reducing cellulite. It does this with two simultaneous benefits that directly work on the appearance of cellulite:

  • Dissolving fat cells with ultrasound waves, by breaking them down. This results in fewer fat cells being present in the tissue and so less of a protrusion into the skin's surface. Reduced fat bulging in the surface of the skin means directly reduced cellulite.

  • Increasing collagen production in the treated area, with radiofrequency waves. Restoring collagen in the problem areas will directly improve the connective tissue function. This means it will better hold the fat in place around the skin, rather than pulling down on it tightly. Fat deposits won't push up onto the surface of the skin so harshly, and cellulite dimpling will reduce.

7. Carboxytherapy Treatment

Carboxytherapy is another aesthetic treatment that is great for reducing the appearance of cellulite. Carboxytherapy works to get a similar result to Exilis but by a different mechanism. This makes combining Exilis and Carboxytherapy great for reducing cellulite.

Injecting Carbon Dioxide gas into the treatment area:

  • Increases blood circulation to the treated area to stimulate increased collagen production. The mechanism directly counters that of the development of cellulite, to reduce and prevent it.

  • Causes fat cells to be broken down directly in a process called "lipolysis". "Lipo" means fat and "lysis" means breakdown. This will also help reduce your cellulite, in a similar way to Exilis.

So can you answer the questions of what cellulite is, why you have it, and how you can reduce it? You should by now, and you might even have a plan of action fresh in your mind. But, we know you might still have some questions or want to speak to a professional. Just click the button below and fill out the form and one of our experts will contact you on the same working day!

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