Cellulite is the term used for the appearance of fat deposits right beneath the surface of the skin. These show up as dimples on the skin (similar to orange peel) and most commonly appear in the pelvic region – especially the thighs and stomach. Both males and females can be affected, although cellulite is most common in post-pubertal women. It is classified using 3 different grades, Medical News Today reports. At grade 1, there are no visible symptoms on the skin but fat cells can be found using a microscope.
At grade 3, the dimples are clearly visible.
What causes it?
There is no concrete explanation for what causes cellulite. The Times estimates that it affects as many as 85-98% of all post-pubertal women, making the condition “pretty much a secondary sexual characteristic of our gender”.
Other factors that may contribute to cellulite include:
- Genes – certain genetic characteristics have been associated with cellulite, including gender, race, circulation, slow metabolism, skin thickness. It can also be hereditary.
- Fat – the amount of fat in the body and how it is distributed is thought to be a major factor. Cellulite is more common in people who are overweight or obese. Eating too much carbohydrate, fat, salt and insufficient fibre can also be contributing factors.
- Lifestyle – those who smoke and don’t do any exercise are more at risk.
- Hormones – especially in women, hormones play a big part in determining the pattern of fat distribution.
How can cellulite be treated?
There is a long-standing debate over whether it is actually possible to remove cellulite completely and what can be done to reduce it. It has become apparent that results from ‘treatment’ vary from person to person. Here are a number of methods developed solely for this purpose, as outlined by Medicine Net:
- Cellulite creams – these often contain a group of chemicals called methylxanthines. These include aminophylline, caffeine, and theophyilline and are known for their ability to break down fat stores. Applied to the affected area, the cream aims to reduce the appearance of dimples.
- Dietary supplements – these are intended to improve metabolism, circulation and protect against cell damage, as well as breaking down fat cells. Popular supplements include ginkgo biloba, sweet clover, grape-seed bioflavinoids, bladder wrack extract, oil of evening primrose, fish oil, and soy lecithin.
- Laser therapy – there are two popular but very costly laser treatments available in the US to combat cellulite. TriActive employs laser treatment with suction and skin manipulation. VelaSmooth combines laser and massage therapy. Both of these require multiple sessions and maintenance treatment.
- Mesotherapy – this involves the injection of drugs and other substances into the affected tissue. Again, this treatment has to be carried out multiple times, although many physicians do not administer it because they feel it is unproven and too risky.
- Cellulite diets – some claim that a special diet can help eliminate cellulite. This often involves eating food which is low in fat and carbohydrate and contains nutrients aiding the metabolism and skin elasticity.
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