Why does cellulite occur?

Cellulite! Can we really do anything to get rid of it?

Almost all women have cellulite to one degree or another, and it’s generally considered a sign of an unhealthy lifestyle. There are numerous so-called treatments for cellulite on the market, but what we want to know is, is there anything you can do that really works?! Yes, there is.

Firstly, what is Cellulite?We all know what cellulite looks like; the lumpy, dimpled appearance of the skin. Sometimes it is fairly mild and only visible when you pinch the skin. Sometimes it is fairly mild and only visible when you pinch the skin. In some cases it can be quite severe and noticeable.

When cellulite occurs here is what is going on beneath the top layer of skin; the enlarged fat cells put pressure on the surrounding fibrous tissue.  As the fat cells enlarge, they push up against the skin. The tough, long connective cords (Fibrous septae) pull down creating an uneven surface or dimpling.

Photo source: http://www.mayoclinic.org


Women are more prone to develop cellulite than men for three primary reasons:

1. Female Sex Hormones – the effect of two female sex hormones; oestrogen and progesterone, are the most vital factors that can lead to the development of cellulite in women. Oestrogen encourages fat cells to develop and grow around the breasts, thighs, and buttocks. Progesterone; can be instrumental in causing an increase in weight, weakness in veins and causes an increase in fluid retention.

2. Women naturally hold more fat than men, particularly in the “stubborn” areas that are most affected by cellulite. Research has shown that females aren’t as good at oxidising fat as men.

3. Women’s fat cells are distributed in vertical columns, which are more prone to bulging, whereas men’s are arranged in a denser, net-like pattern that is more resistant to pitting. Cellulite also comes more apparent as we get older. The fibrous connective tissues (septae as they’re known) stiffen and the skin loosens, making the dimpling become even more pronounced.


Ineffective Cellulite Treatments

Before we look at what works in the treatment of cellulite, let’s take a quick look at a couple of “cures” for cellulite that don’t work:

Cellulite creams – These products contain various substances that are supposed to inhibit fat storage in the areas where cellulite is worst. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just rub a cream on our body and inhibit fat storage. These creams usually just induce temporary swelling, which reduces the appearance of cellulite…until the effect wears off.

Cellulite massage contraptions – Said to “break up the fat cells.”  While they may temporarily improve the appearance, they don’t deliver long-term results.


Effective Cellulite Treatments

So, what does work for reducing the appearance of cellulite? Notice the word reducing, because genetics do play a role. You may not be able to “cure” yourself of it, but there are certainly things you can do to help make cellulite less noticeable.

  • Lose the body fat – By reducing your stored fat you will take the pressure off the surrounding tissues, which naturally reduces the severity of the pitting. The less fat you have in the affected areas, the more chance of smoother skin appearance.
    • Assess diet to lose fat – particularly the stubborn fat – Reducing your body fat percentage can obviously have positive effects on your cellulite, but it’s not the end-all cure as some may believe.  There are plenty of slim girls out there with cellulite.


  • Health of the collagen and connective tissues in the skin – By improving the health and elasticity of these tissues, you can reduce the visibility of the cellulite. The weaker and stiffer these tissues are, the looser the skin is and the more prominent cellulite becomes.
    • Include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet – Omega-3 stimulates collagen production and reduces inflammation, which can help with the reduction of cellulite.


  • Increase blood and lymph circulation – It is poor circulation (blood and lymphatic flow) that ultimately creates the right environment for cellulite formation. Lack of circulation to an area – whether caused by little or no exercise, too much sitting, clogged arteries or nutrient deficiency – can have a serious impact and accelerate cellulite formation.
    • Lift weights – This is more important than many women realise. Lifting weights is an incredibly effective way to stimulate the blood and lymph circulation.  The benefits of weightlifting are that as your muscles grow, your body naturally tightens, giving you a smoother, fuller look….so there’s a good reason to be squatting!


The last thing to remember…Cellulite isn’t unhealthy as such and isn’t nearly as noticeable to other people as it is to you. By being aware of the processes that contribute toward cellulite development and supporting your all-important lymph system, you may find the combination which helps you diminish or alleviate cellulite. Being healthy, strong and fit is more important than having smooth skin.