Cellulite occurs when fat collects under the surface of the skin. This collection of fat can create a dimpled “cottage cheese” appearance. Cellulite does not constitute a health risk. Many health care professionals consider it normal. Cellulite affects people of all weights, and no treatment completely gets rid of it. However, weight loss might help reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Before we study the relationship between weight loss and cellulite, let’s first examine cellulite in detail.
Cellulite is a term that describes dimples and lumps in the skin. Cellulite is also identified by other common names like cottage-cheese skin, orange-peel skin, mattress phenomenon, and hail damage.
Anyone can be affected by cellulite. However, women tend to experience it more than men, due to differences in fat, connective tissue, and muscle distribution.
Studies show that between 80 – 90% of women may experience cellulite at some point in their lives.
What causes cellulite?
Medical science is yet to unravel the exact cause of cellulite, but there are indications that it may be caused by a linkage between the connective tissue below the surface of the skin and the layer of fat that lies below it.
The connective tissue and the fat cells are arranged vertically in women.
The appearance of cellulite comes up when the fat cells extend into the layer of the skin.
In men, cellulite tissue has some kind of crisscross structure. This explains why they are less likely to appear in men than in women.
Age & hormonal factors
Hormones contribute greatly to the development of cellulite, insulin, estrogen, thyroid hormones, and noradrenaline plays a role in the production of cellulite.
It has been theorized that as estrogen decreases in women (due to menopause), the circulation of blood to the connective tissue beneath the skin also decreases.
A reduction in blood circulation means that less oxygen is supplied to the area, leading to a decrease in collagen production. The reduction of estrogen levels also causes enlargement of fat cells.
The combination of these factors increases the visibility of fat deposits.
Also, as a person gets older, the skin becomes less elastic, and thinner, and thus sags the more. When this happens, cellulite is more likely to develop.
Some genes contribute to the development of cellulite. Genetics can be linked to fat distribution under the skin, metabolic rate, circulatory levels, and ethnicity. These affect the development of cellulite.
Lifestyle & dietary factors
Toxins do not contribute to the development of cellulite, although the risk of developing it may be reduced by living a healthy lifestyle.
Consumption of excess carbohydrates, salt, fat, and very little fiber can contribute to cellulite.
Cellulite is prevalent in smokers, those who lead a sedentary life, and those who stand or sit in one position for prolonged periods.
Putting on elastic underwear that tightens across the buttocks can limit the flow of blood, and this can also trigger cellulite development.
The prevalence of cellulite is higher in people who have a lot of fat. But that notwithstanding, those who are slim & fit can also have it. The likelihood of developing cellulite increases after 25 years of age, but younger people, and even teenagers can also develop it as well.
Does weight loss remove cellulite?
Well, there is no guarantee that weight loss is effective at removing cellulite, but you will benefit more from maintaining a healthy weight – mainly through regular exercise and dieting. As you lose weight, the fat beneath the connective tissue will reduce, and so the dimpled appearance fails to surface. Within 8 weeks of starting an effective weight loss therapy, you will notice your cellulite reducing. You must maintain a healthy weight though, as inconsistent dieting and fluctuations in weight can be a barrier to your fight against cellulite.
Other treatments for cellulite
Several therapies have been developed for treating cellulite, but none has been backed by scientific studies.
The following techniques have been reviewed by The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and may be effective at minimizing the appearance of cellulite by breaking up connective tissue bands under the surface of the skin.
Acoustic wave therapy: this involves the transmission of sound waves using a hand-held instrument. It does work, but one will have to undergo several sessions of treatment.
Subcision: connective tissue bands are broken by placing a needle beneath the skin. This is done by a dermatologist. According to the ADD, the results can last a minimum of two years.
Laser treatment: this improves cellulite appearance for at least a year. During laser treatment, a small laser probe may be placed beneath the skin.
After insertion, the laser will be fired, resulting in the breaking of the tissue. Laser treatment can also cause thickening of the skin. It does this by increasing the production of collagen. The thickening of the skin also reduces cellulite appearance below.
Vacuum-assisted precise tissue release: the connective tissue bands are cut with the use of a device that has small blades in it. As the bands are cut, the tissue beneath fills the space under the skin, thus shielding the appearance of the cellulite.
Other techniques include: