Cellulite’s nature isn’t actually as straightforward as you might think. We know what causes the appearance of the dimples (the skin’s structure), but it’s not that well-understood what makes it worse, and why some people get it more than others.
How cellulite works
Cellulite’s classic appearance is due to fibrous connective tissue acting like a columnar funnel that our fat cells sit within. These fibres that hold our muscles and skin together squish the fat out between the columns of connective tissue. This can happen even with the tiniest amount of fat, and it doesn’t matter how much muscle you have or how fit you are.
Cellulite is completely natural and is not harmful, but its appearance can bother some people.
Grades of cellulite
There are three grades of cellulite.
- Grade 1 – no sign, but under the microscope, changes can be seen in tissue
- Grade 2 – cellulite is seen in pale skin, in lower temperatures, and changes in tissue can be seen under a microscope
- Grade 3 – the skin has a visible ‘cellulite’ look to it, which we know as cellulite, plus grade 1 and 2 symptoms
Who gets cellulite?
Women and men both get cellulite, but women have it more frequently due to the nature of female tissue structure. Kids don’t tend to get cellulite until after puberty.
Theories about cellulite
It’s believed that hormones have a role to play in cellulite. Suspect hormones include oestrogen, insulin, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones and prolactin, since these are all part of the cellulite process.
Certain genes predispose you to cellulite development, for example a slow metabolism, fat distribution, circulation problems, and more obvious ones like gender and race.
Anyone eating too much fat, carbs or salt tend to have more cellulite.
Circulation and lifestyle
Cellulite tends to occur more in people who smoke, do not exercise, and those who sit or stand in one place for long periods of time. Additionally, anyone who wears underwear or clothes that are tight across the buttocks has increased risk of cellulite. These all point to circulation and hormones as being major contributors to cellulite.