Cellulite is the accumulation of subcutaneous fat deposits stored within the fibers of connective tissue located in the hips, thighs and buttocks.  It occurs in the majority of postpubescent females with 85% to 98% of women exhibiting symptoms.  The cause of cellulite starts with normal fat beneath the skin. It begins to appear lumpy because it is pushing against the connective tissue in certain areas of the body which causes the skin directly above to dimple and pucker.  This explains why people of every physical type can develop it whether they are overweight or thin.  

 

The Cellulite Epidemic

The statistics are alarming!  In the past 30 years, this condition which affects over 90% of the female population is of epic proportions.  One can be sure that the numbers are growing as well.  Consider the fact that if there were other medical condition affecting the majority of the women in the world, the store shelves would be stacked to the roof with cellulite prevention techniques, information on how to “cure” it, pharmaceutical research and development grants, and cellulite treatments promising magical results.  It’s safe to assume that every person suffering with stubborn cellulite would love to get hold of the easy fix.  However, the reality is that knowledge of cellulite-what it is, how it develops and how it responds to treatment is the real power behind getting rid of it.  Be proactive while staying positive and informed.  

The fact is, women are more prone to develop cellulite than men.  Dr. Elizabeth Farhat, a dermatologist with Allina Health Clinic states the main reason is the hormonal differences between men and women.  The presence of estrogen results in women having more fat cells than men, but it is where the cells are stored in combination with the basic structure of the skin both contributing significantly to the formation of cellulite.  Women simply have thinner skin and connective tissue whereas men have thicker subdermal connective tissue as well as a thinner fat layer.  Therefore, fat cells are prevented from protruding and causing a puckered appearance in men.  Men characteristically retain fat in the abdominal area, while most women store their fat in the legs, buttocks and thighs.  Cellulite becomes visible because the muscles (especially those in the lower part of the body) are continuously pushing the fat cells or nodes out and against the skin and connective tissues.  Other factors contributing to the formation of cellulite include:

  • Poor diet
  • Fad dieting
  • Slow metabolism
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Hormone changes
  • Dehydration
  • Total body fat
  • Heredity

 

What Are the Different Types of Cellulite?

It’s a common mistake to assume every type of cellulite is the same.  The following conditions and descriptions may help you diagnose the specific type of cellulite affecting you:

  • Adiposis:  Related to obesity, resulting in excessive fat cell deposits as well as the deterioration of fatty tissue.
  • Edematosa: Edema occurs when there is an abnormally high fluid content in-between the subdermal layers of the skin and areas of the body containing cavities.  This type of cellulite can be painful due to the pressure on the nerves from swelling. 
  • Adiposis cerebra´lis:  Excessive fatness caused by cerebral pituitary disease.
  • Adiposis doloro´sa:  A painful condition resulting from painful folds or nodes of fat tissue and/or the presence of numerous noncancerous (benign) tumors of fat commonly known as lipomas.
  • Adiposis hepa´tica:  Fatty degeneration of liver.

 

Epidemiology

The majority of medical personnel are of the opinion that cellulite is a normal condition for women due to the hormonal difference between them and men.  In fact, it has not been determined to be “a real medical disorder.”  As cellulite rarely occurs in males, it will develop in men with androgen-deficiencies due to such medical conditions as post castration and Klinefelter’s syndrome, hypogonadism, and in many patients that receive estrogen therapy for cancer of the prostate. The formation of cellulite can become severe when and if the androgen deficiency worsens.

 

Why Does My Body Develop Cellulite?

There are many causes of cellulite including metabolic changes, the way your physiology works, the foods you eat and the physical activity you participate in.  Cellulite is directly linked to being obese and the structure of your skin.  It can result when the structure of your connective tissue has been altered or your hormones change.  Your body may also be predisposed to cellulite due to genetic factors, your body’s microcirculatory system, and the extracellular molecules that are produced by supporting cells providing structural and biochemical support.  Your sex, biotype, how your subcutaneous fat is distributed, race, and susceptibility to lymphatic and circulatory insufficiency all contribute to cellulite development. Hormones contributing to cellulite development are:

  • Insulin
  • Adrenaline and noradrenaline
  • Thyroid hormones
  • Prolactin 

 

Does Lifestyle Affect Cellulite Production?

Definitely yes.  Fast-paced, high-stress lifestyles can cause an increased level of catecholamines (any of the many amines:  Epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine which function as a hormones or neurotransmitter or both. All three have also been associated with the development of cellulite.  Stress contributes to many medical conditions that are related to cellulite formation, they include:

IBS:  Irritable bowel syndrome is a digestive disorder.  It is associated with cellulite production on the stomach along with, constipation and liver conditions.

Chronic Stress:  May lead to long-lasting tension and pain in the neck muscles and vertebrae.  Tissues that remain Inflamed may cause cellulite to form in the back of the neck.  Prolonged stress combined with adrenaline surges can also result in increased amounts of fat to store in the thighs, stomach, buttocks and hips.

Extreme Exercise:  Too much repetitive activity such as extreme weight lifting with the legs can result in cellulite appearing on the front of the thighs.  

Pregnancy:  The fluctuating hormones in a pregnant female’s body can cause fluid retention and a surge of estrogen and progesterone.  As the uterus grows it can affect blood circulation and lymph drainage. Any existing cellulite problems typically worsen with each successive pregnancy. However, the good news is that breast feeding, while being good for your baby, also serves as an effective cellulite treatment.

Body System Stress:  A lifestyle consisting of no physical exercise is stressful on the body in many ways.  Poor blood circulation is one of the consequences as well as the strain on the venous and lymphatic systems. Failure to provide your muscles with exercise prevents them from contracting and without muscle contractions your body’s systems must exert extra pressure stretching the veins and lymph vessels. Once this happens, you become more susceptible to fluid retention, leaking and poor circulation.  A sedentary lifestyle can also cause you to gain weight; another reason cellulite forms.

Stressful Habits:  Cigarettes, drugs and alcohol can affect your well-being in many ways.  Addictive substances hurt you when you do them and they create stress when you don’t.  Anything that affects your circulation may cause damage to your connective tissue resulting in fat cells to form and stick in one place.

Food Stress:  Dieting is usually stressful enough, but the crash diet is especially harmful as it leads to an increasing desire for food causing the body to store fat.  Consuming high fat meals and sugar may lead to excess calories causing an increase in body fat and the appearance of cellulite.  Also, beware those processed foods packed with preservatives, artificial sweeteners and additives-they will create a multitude of toxins in your body and naturally, cellulite.  Certain food allergies may also contribute to cellulite when they lead to craving some foods.  Cellulite forms when there is weight gain, fluid retention and bloating.

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