What is Cellulite?

Cellulite is a well known affliction, though many people simply know it as bumpy, rumpled, or orange peel skin. However, what cellulite is, is much more complex than that and the physiology of it is something that must be understood before you can combat it. Although cellulite is strictly a superficial ailment, it is one that many feel must be fixed to improve quality of life. So what is cellulite? More importantly, how can you use your knowledge of what causes cellulite to remove it and the potential impact it will have on your life?

Cellulite is medically know as adiposis edematosa, dermopanniculosis deformans, status protrusus cutis and gynoid lipodystrophy. However, you may have heard it called by other names, orange peel syndrome, the mattress phenomenon and most notably, cellulite. Although it is possible for anyone to have cellulite (in fact, some professionals claim up to 95% of people have cellulite somewhere) it is much more prevalent among females, specifically postpubescent females. It has been hypothesized that cellulite appears, or will appear, in about 85% of postpubescent women.

orange peel skin

Cellulite effects many people, approximately 85% of postpubescent women as you read above, though that may be of some surprise to you because you haven’t seen its occurrence in the real world that much. This can be attributed to the different types and grades of cellulite. Dermatologist Dr. Ariel Haus, an expert on the subject of cellulite, has laid claim to the fact that there are, in fact, different types and different grades of cellulite. The different types of cellulite are as follows:
Adipose cellulite – firm cellulite with an orange peel effect on loose skin
Oedematous cellulite – cellulite caused by water retention that results in soft cellulite on loose skin
Fibrotic cellulite – hard, compact cellulite with an orange peel effect. This differs from adipose cellulite in that it occurs on skin that isn’t loose

Though you may have one, or more, of these types of cellulite (and percentages state that you probably do!) you may want to take note of the following scale that grades out the affliction level of cellulite, also provided by Dr. Haus:
Grade 1: Cellulite is not visible, even when the skin is pinched
Grade 2: Cellulite is not visible when standing or lying, but can be seen when the skin is
Grade 3: Cellulite is visible when standing but may not be when lying
Grade 4: Cellulite is visible when standing the lying

The cause of cellulite is fairly simple, however, the deeper you delve into it the more confusing it can become. Simply put, cellulite is the cause of collections of fat pushing against connective tissues beneath the skin. This makes one thing clear; too much fat on a person’s body causes cellulite. However, this is also what makes cellulite a confusing topic for many. We have seen outliers, people
who are, in fact, very skinny who are afflicted by cellulite. We also know that certain people can be predisposed to getting cellulite.

The fruition of cellulite can be caused by multiple factors, most of which are controllable by a healthy diet and active lifestyle. However, there are also risk factors that are not preventable because of genetics. A person’s susceptibility is heavily influenced by gender and race, in addition to if your family has cases of cellulite affliction. If you do have these risk factors, it doesn’t mean that you are destined to have cellulite though. A simple predisposition to this condition does not mean that you will ultimately succumb to having cellulite however; we will get to that in a bit. First, let’s explore more into why cellulite occurs, more specifically in women.

distribution of fat in men and womenOne of the reasons why cellulite is much more prevalent in women is because of fundamental differences in the structure of men and women. For instance, men have a much thicker epidermis than women. To be clear, epidermis is the top of layer of skin, the layer that is visible to the naked eye. Because of this thicker epidermis, men are much more resistant to structural changes in the skin. Women, however, have a much thinner epidermis which leaves their skin susceptible to structural changes, such as dimpling.

Furthermore, the way fat cells are structured beneath the skin have a massive impact on why women are more susceptible to cellulite. The fat cells that sit below the skin of males are compact and intertwined. This means that when men add to their fat content, the fat tends to create a singular mass of fat, one which can grow proportionately. Women have fat cells that lay strictly side by side however. This contributes to cellulite because when their fat content is increased, it is forced to expand vertically. As fat expands vertically, it pushes on the epidermis and creates bumps, also known as cellulite.

cellulite and squatsThe reason why a predisposition to cellulite doesn’t mean you will get it is this: cellulite can also be attributed to the muscles lying under your fat. If you don’t keep your muscles in good shape you increase the risk of cellulite. This is because if you muscles are unconditioned, it causes the fat on top of them to pucker and dimple because it is not being held flat. Alternatively, muscles that are conditioned and toned will push out against the layer of fat, and skin, on top of them. This pulls the fat and skin tight, effectively stopping cellulite from occurring. Unconditioned muscles can be one reason why people, especially those with low body fat, have cellulite. Also, lower your body fat content will decrease the amount of fat that can be pushed to the surface, which lessens the likelihood of cellulite.

Cellulite isn’t an incurable ailment. In fact, it is very curable, even preventable. You don’t need to use the drastic measures that you may have heard of some people taking part in. As you have read, most people, especially women, have cellulite. However, it may not appear as such because they they have taken measures to ensure that they are less likely to get cellulite. If you do have cellulite, you do have options. From reading above, one thing should be clear: although cellulite effects many people, it is not something that you are destined to live with.

Be sure you don’t miss my other posts!
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