The c-word, cellulite. 90% of people will experience cellulite at some point in their life. What is cellulite and why does it get under our skin, literally?
What is cellulite?
Fat deposits, enlarged fat cells to be precise.
Everyone has fat deposits, why are these visible?
Cellulite happens when enlarged fat cells press up against skin’s connective tissue causing an uneven outward appearance.
Why do I see more women with cellulite than men?
It’s in the DNA.
Women’s connective tissue is arranged vertically allowing for the easy passage/travel of fat cells, men’s tissue is arranged in a crisscross form making it a bit tougher for those fat cells to push up against the top dermal layer and create that uneven texture from the outside. Men can definitely get cellulite, it’s just biologically easier for it to show up on women.
Who gets cellulite?
A lot of the causes behind cellulite are still grey but research shows it may be linked to hormones, genetics and lifestyle.
HormonesThere are undeniable links between estrogen and cellulite. Skin needs oxygen to produce collagen to stay looking young, healthy and bouncy. As women approach menopause and/or estrogen levels lower, skin cells receive less oxygen and subsequently collagen production decreases. Fat cells also become enlarged with a drop in estrogen levels, which means anyone who produces estrogen has a greater chance of having visible cellulite.
Not just anyone can get cellulite, some of us have genes that make us pre-disposed to getting it. Things like metabolism and circulation play a role in cellulite.
Then of course sitting and standing for long periods of time with little-to-no exercise hampers circulation and encourages the formation of cellulite. Think, long working hours on your feet or sitting at your desk.
How do I get rid of cellulite?
It’s important to remember we don’t know with certainty what causes cellulite and there are no studies showing treatments that are 100% effective at permanently getting rid of cellulite. If you have it and it bothers you, here’s the general consensus cellulite to-do list. And even if these don’t cure our cellulite, they’re still great for overall health. Can’t hurt.
FYI, the main goal of each treatment is to break up that connective tissue and/or decrease the amount of fatty deposits.
In-office cellulite procedure
There’s a whole bunch, none of which can fully cure it, but some are more successful than others at reducing the overall appearance of skin dimpling. They include laser-needling, heat therapy, suction treatments, deep massage and under-the-skin needling to break up the connective tissue. Results vary on a case-by-case basis, but each of these would create some fluidity under the skin and at the very least loosen up the fat deposits so they don’t appear so outwardly rigid.
Even though the cause of cellulite is still ambiguous, scientists are pretty sure it’s circulation-related and nothing gets blood flowing, oxygen to our cells and collagen production going like exercise.
Consuming foods with a high-water concentration, think fruits and veggies, helps increase oxygen levels in skin cells, which ultimately delivers firmer, smoother-looking skin.
Add this to one of the many reasons to avoid smoking and second-hand smoke when possible. We already know it causes premature skin aging, but it also compromises every internal function including collagen production and blood flow. Skin loses the ability to bounce back making it easier for our fat cells to access the top dermal layer.
At-home skincare and treatments
Creams & oils
Because topical cosmetics can’t physically alter the state of connective tissue underneath the dermis, any results are temporary*. What they can do is create a smooth-looking skin surface while hydrating and helping to boost collagen production, which in the long-term will help to create healthy, firm-looking skin that may diminish the appearance of cellulite, but not get rid of it.
Foam-rolling & dry brushing
Without great circulation, our muscles become taut rubber bands, stretched to their max and on the verge of breaking. Just like massage, foam rolling and dry brushing work to soften that tension, break up the fascia directly under our dermal layer and restore some elasticity to the muscles. This also encourages oxygen flow.
Microneedling for cellulite treatment
While topicals alone can’t alter the state of connective tissue, their chances are increased when combined with microneedling. Done at home or in office, microneedling allows targeted skincare with fat-dissolving technology for example to penetrate the skin more deeply.