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Cellulite

 

Cellulite is fat that collects in pockets just below the surface of the skin. It forms around the hips, thighs, and buttocks. Cellulite deposits cause the skin to look dimpled.

Information

Cellulite may be more visible than fat deeper in the body. Everyone has layers of fat under the skin, so even thin people can have cellulite. Collagen fibers that connect fat to the skin may stretch, break down, or pull tight. This allows fat cells to bulge out.

Your genes may play a part in whether or not you have cellulite. Other factors may include:

  • Your diet
  • How your body burns energy
  • Hormone changes
  • Dehydration

No existing treatments, including weight loss, exercise, massages, wraps, creams, supplements, or surgery, have yet been shown to get rid of cellulite. Liposuction is not recommended for cellulite, and may even make it look worse. New treatments, such as laser, are being developed for cellulite.

Many people seek treatment for cellulite because they are bothered by how it looks. The problem is not harmful to your health, however. Most health care providers consider cellulite a normal condition for many women and some men.

Tips for avoiding cellulite include:

  • Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber
  • Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids
  • Exercising regularly to keep muscles toned and bones strong
  • Maintaining a healthy weight (no yo-yo dieting)
  • Not smoking

 

References

Katz BE, Hexsel DM, Hexsel CL. Cellulite. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson I, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 38.

Rossi AM, Katz BE. A modern approach to the treatment of cellulite. Dermatol Clin. 2014;32(1):51-59. PMID: 24267421 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24267421.

 
  • Fat layer in skin

    Fat layer in skin - illustration

    The fat layer of skin is located in the subcutaneous layer of tissue called the hypodermis. The thickness of the fat layer, which varies greatly from one person to another, depends on the size and number of fat cells.

    Fat layer in skin

    illustration

  • Muscle cells vs. fat cells

    Muscle cells vs. fat cells - illustration

    To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you eat. Exercise is the best way to do this. When you exercise regularly, you build stronger muscles, even if you do not work out with weights. Muscles use more calories than fat throughout the day, even while you are resting. This contributes to what is commonly called a "faster metabolism."

    Muscle cells vs. fat cells

    illustration

  • Cellulite

    Cellulite - illustration

    Cellulite is a term that is used to describe fat deposits under the skin that outwardly give the skin a dimpled, or orange-peel like appearance. Cellulite is most often seen in woman because the fat is arranged in large chambers separated by columns of collagen fibers. In overweight people excess fat is stuffed in these compartments causing them to bulge out. On the surface of the skin the bulging provides the dimply appearance of cellulite, especially in areas such as the hips, buttocks or thighs. Cellulite is predetermined by genetics so even thin women can develop the appearance. Factors such as hormones, pregnancy, and aging may all attribute to the weakening of the collagen fibers to give the cellulite appearance.

    Cellulite

    illustration

    • Fat layer in skin

      Fat layer in skin - illustration

      The fat layer of skin is located in the subcutaneous layer of tissue called the hypodermis. The thickness of the fat layer, which varies greatly from one person to another, depends on the size and number of fat cells.

      Fat layer in skin

      illustration

    • Muscle cells vs. fat cells

      Muscle cells vs. fat cells - illustration

      To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you eat. Exercise is the best way to do this. When you exercise regularly, you build stronger muscles, even if you do not work out with weights. Muscles use more calories than fat throughout the day, even while you are resting. This contributes to what is commonly called a "faster metabolism."

      Muscle cells vs. fat cells

      illustration

    • Cellulite

      Cellulite - illustration

      Cellulite is a term that is used to describe fat deposits under the skin that outwardly give the skin a dimpled, or orange-peel like appearance. Cellulite is most often seen in woman because the fat is arranged in large chambers separated by columns of collagen fibers. In overweight people excess fat is stuffed in these compartments causing them to bulge out. On the surface of the skin the bulging provides the dimply appearance of cellulite, especially in areas such as the hips, buttocks or thighs. Cellulite is predetermined by genetics so even thin women can develop the appearance. Factors such as hormones, pregnancy, and aging may all attribute to the weakening of the collagen fibers to give the cellulite appearance.

      Cellulite

      illustration


     

    Review Date: 12/10/2016

    Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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