Cellulite is a term used to describe the dimpled appearance of skin caused by fat deposits that are just below the surface of the skin. It generally appears on skin in the abdomen, lower limbs, and pelvic region, and it usually occurs after puberty. Cellulite is also known as adiposis edematosa, dermopanniculosis deformans, status protrusus cutis, and gynoid lipodystrophy in the medical field and as orange peel syndrome, cottage cheese skin, hail damage, and the mattress phenomenon in colloquial language.
Cellulite is often classified using three grades. Grade 1 classification sees no clinical symptoms, but a microscopic examination of cells from the area detects underlying anatomical changes. Grade 2 cellulite requires the skin to show pallor (pastiness), be lower temperature, and have decreased elasticity in addition to anatomical changes noted by microscopic examinations. Grade 3 cellulite has visible roughness of the skin (like an orange peel) along with all grade 2 signs. Cellulite occurs in both men and women, but it is much more common in women because they are more likely to have particular types of fat and connective tissue. What causes cellulite? The causes of cellulite are not well understood, but there are several theories that have been put forth as explanations. Among these are: Hormonal factors - hormones likely play an important role in cellulite development. Many believe estrogen, insulin, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones, and prolactin are part of the cellulite production process. Genetics - certain genes are required for cellulite development. Genes may predispose an individual to particular characteristics associated with cellulite, such as gender, race, slow metabolism, distribution of fat just underneath the skin, and circulatory insufficiency. Diet - people who eat too much fat, carbohydrates, or salt and too little fiber are likely to have greater amounts of cellulite. Lifestyle factors - cellulite may be more prevalent in smokers, those who do not exercise, and those who sit or stand in one position for long periods of time. Clothing - underwear with tight elastic across the buttocks (limiting blood flow) may contribute to the formation of cellulite. How can cellulite be removed? There are several therapies that have been suggested to remove cellulite, but none have been supported in the scientific or medical literature.
Therapeutic methods that are physical or mechanical include pneumatic massages, massages that stimulate lymphatic flow, heat therapy, ultrasound, radio frequency therapy, magnetic therapy, radial waves therapy, Endermologie, and electrical stimulation. However, there is no solid evidence that these methods are effective.
A second class of cellulite removal strategies consists of drugs that are supposed to act on fatty tissues. There is a wide variation of pharmacological agents used, such as methylxanthines (caffeine and theobromine), pentoxifylline, beta-agonists and adrenaline, alpha-antagonists, amino acids, ginkgo biloba, rutin, and Indian chestnut among others. People with cellulite have tried to apply these agents topically, orally, or by injection, but none have been proved effective. Some people with cellulite wear special clothing called compression garments to reduce the appearance of cellulite. These garments try to compress arteries and increase blood and lymph flow to reduce visual cellulite.
Cellulite reduction techniques such as liposuction and dieting actually do not remove cellulite. However, eating a healthful, balanced diet and exercising may be the best way to reduce the fat content in cells and reduce the appearance of cellulite. How can cellulite be prevented? Eating healthy, low fat foods such as fruits, vegetables, and fiber can help one to avoid cellulite. Similarly exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing stress are recommended to prevent cellulite. In addition wearing thongs, boyshorts, or looser fitting undergarments can prevent cellulite that might form due to tight elastic. News on Dermatology and Cosmetic Medicine For the latest news and research on Dermatology and Cosmetic Medicine, and to sign up to newsletters or news alerts, please visit our Dermatology or our Cosmetic Medicine sections. Video: New York Plastic Surgeon -Testing Cellulite Removal Products Related articles