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Cellulite 101: What Causes Cellulite and How To Get Rid of It

Cellulite 101: What Causes Cellulite and How To Get Rid of It

 What is Cellulite?

Under the skin, you have a layer of connective tissue and underneath that, there are layers of fat and muscle. Cellulite occurs when the fat layers start to protrude through the connective tissue in an irregular fashion and this gives the skin the bumpy appearance that is characteristic of cellulite. There are many theories as to why this happens but the most widely accepted is that it is caused by a weakening in the structure of the connective tissue and that allows the fat to protrude through. Collagen is a major component of connective tissue and elastin is another important component for keeping skin looking smooth. As we age, both collagen and elastin production slow down and that weakens the structure of the connective tissue and that makes it more likely for cellulite to appear.

What is Cellulite - Structure of Skin

Over 80% of women have cellulite to some degree and the areas that are most commonly affected are the thighs and the buttocks although it can also affect the stomach, arms and other areas. Men don’t seem to be affected by cellulite as much as women and that is because of differences in how fat is stored in men vs. women.

Read on to find out what causes cellulite, what makes it worse and most importantly, how to get rid of it!

What Causes Cellulite?

Apart from the slowing down of collagen and elastin production, a secondary cause of cellulite is the build-up of toxins in the body. Usually, the liver breaks down any toxins in the body when it cannot, they are stored in cells just under the skin. This causes fat and fluid retention in the cells, reducing circulation and stops the lymphatic cells from draining properly. Reduced circulation to these vital skin cells causes the connective tissues to be stretched which again, results in the bumpy and uneven orange peel look that is associated with cellulite.

Cellulite doesn’t only affect people who have excess fat. Some people who aren’t overweight have cellulite and some people who are overweight don’t.

Lack of exercise and a poor diet can slow down the body’s process for removing waste from the cells and this causes a build-up of toxins and poor circulation. Tight underwear and clothing can reduce circulation in the thigh and buttock area and this can also make cellulite look worse.

Hormonal imbalances can also affect the structure of the skin. Too much estrogen or too little estrogen can also cause weakening of the connective tissue within the skin. After the age of 40, estrogen levels begin to decline and the skin also begins to lose elasticity. Younger women’s skin can also be affected by too much estrogen, though. A poor diet, stress and hormonal contraceptives can cause high levels of estrogen in the body.

Cellulite Treatments

First off, just getting rid of fat is not enough! A common misconception is that only overweight people get cellulite. Everybody has layers of fat underneath the skin so you don’t have to be overweight to get cellulite. To reduce the appearance of cellulite, you need to somehow change the structure of the layers of skin cells or improve circulation to these skin cells. But how can you do that?

If we take the first point around changing the structure of your skin, the most common treatments strengthen the collagen fibers that make up the connective tissue under the skin or they reduce the amount of fat content in cells. Reducing the amount of fat content is not as effective of a cellulite treatment because as mentioned earlier, cellulite is not about the amount of fat contained in the body but more about how that fat is affected by the surrounding layers in the skin.


Liposuction is actually not effective on cellulite at all and many people who have had liposuction have complained that their cellulite ended up looking worse. Lipo is great for removing fat and sculpting the body but because cellulite is not caused the simple presence of fat, let’s consider other treatments.

Laser and Radiofrequency Treatments

There are a number of laser and radiofrequency cellulite treatments available for treating cellulite. These work by using the heat of the laser to “melt” fat but also to stimulate collagen and elastin production, which strengthen the connective tissues in the skin. Treatment prices can cost thousands of dollars and although effects can be long lasting after several months of treatment, they are not necessarily permanent.

Cellulite Creams

Many topical products on the market promise to improve the appearance of cellulite but how effective this is really depends on the product. Cellulite creams typically work by increasing collagen production or increasing circulation to the skin. Caffeine is one of the products that is said to increase circulation to the skin and it can be found in many cellulite creams. Retinol is another topical cellulite treatment and it works by stimulating production of collagen and elastin to improve thickness and elasticity of the skin. Scientific studies show that some topical treatments are effective in reducing the appearance of cellulite but it is a slow process.

Diet & Exercise

Diet and exercise cannot totally get rid of cellulite but it can improve your muscle tone and the quality of your skin, which will dramatically reduce the appearance of cellulite. Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle will reduce the build-up of toxins in the body, which will improve circulation and the general appearance of your skin. Drinking plenty of water, getting regular exercise and avoiding stress, nicotine and alcohol are things that we can all be doing to adopt a healthier lifestyle and they certainly help reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Massage for Cellulite

Cellulite treatments that work by improving circulation include cellulite body wraps, massage and dry brushing. All of these stimulate the skin and increase blood flow to skin cells, which improves the texture of the skin. You can buy cellulite reducing machines, such as the Wellbox Body Tissular Rejuvenate Cellulite Anti-Aging Therapy Optimizer, and these work by stimulating the skin to improve circulation.