Cellulite: What to Know

Cellulite refers to an altered skin topography that looks like lumpy, dimpled flesh on the thighs, hips, buttocks and abdomen. It’s extremely common and affects more than 90% of women, and it can negatively affect quality of life.

Cellulite looks like dimpled or bumpy skin. It’s sometimes described as having a cottage cheese or orange peel texture, and while it’s most common on the thighs and buttocks, it can also be found on the breasts, lower abdomen and upper arms. Weight gain can make cellulite more noticeable, but some lean people have cellulite as well. It tends to run in families, so genetics might play the biggest role in whether you develop cellulite.

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Over time, the thickness of the dermis, which is the deeper layer of skin, decreases. This provides less support and can lead to the appearance of cellulite. There is also increasing height of the fat lobules. While the exact cause isn’t known, it’s believed that fibrous connective cords tether skin to the underlying muscle, with fat in between. As fat cells accumulate, they push up against the skin, while the long, tough cords pull down. This creates an uneven surface or dimpling.

Numerous things contribute to cellulite appearance, including genetics, hormones (like estrogen, prolactin and progesterone) and the underlying vasculature.

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Risk Factors

Factors that can impact how much cellulite is present or visible include:

— Heredity.

— Skin thickness.

— Gender.

— The amount and distribution of body fat.

— Age.

— Pregnancy.

— An inactive lifestyle.

Most women develop some cellulite after puberty. Women’s fat is typically distributed in the thighs, hips and buttocks, which are typical areas for cellulite. Cellulite is also more likely with aging, when skin loses elasticity.

Cellulite is much more prevalent in women than in men because of differences in the way fat, muscle and connective tissue are distributed in men’s and women’s skin.


One treatment, Cellfina, refers to a minimally invasive procedure that can improve your cellulite. Results have been shown to last for at least five years. The doctor marks the area, injects a numbing solution and then inserts a tiny blade to cut the connective tissue that holds your fat onto those dimples, which is also known as subcision. About 20 to 30 individual cellulite dimples are treated during an average one-hour session.

Other treatments include those that target-reduce the amount of fat or stimulate muscle, which can improve the appearance of cellulite.

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Gentle massage can also temporarily help the appearance of cellulite dimples.

In order to determine the best treatment, see your board-certified physician to discuss options.

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Cellulite: What to Know originally appeared on usnews.com

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