You most likely know what cellulite is: people commonly get it on the backs of their thighs and arms, and even on their backsides. It makes your skin appear dimpled instead of smooth and serves as an insecurity for women and men everywhere. But what exactly is cellulite and what causes it? Understanding why you get cellulite can help when you’re deciding the type of cellulite treatment that’s right for you.
What Is Cellulite?
Cellulite affects up to 90 percent of women, according to the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. It’s most commonly seen in the hip, thigh, and buttock regions and presents as dimply or lumpy skin. Cellulite is benign, requires no treatment, and can fall within a wide spectrum of severity. Because of its prevalence, cellulite treatments are relatively popular among women.
The precise cause of cellulite is poorly understood, and there have been several theories throughout the years as to what causes it. What is known, according to Mayo Clinic, is that it involves vertical or fibrous tissue connections between your skin and underlying muscles, with interspersed fat between tissue connections, also called cords. As more and more fat accumulates between these cords, the skin gets pushed up, creating an uneven appearance.
Men, in comparison, have a crisscross or cord distribution under their skin, which keeps the fat in check and more evenly distributed. That’s why cellulite is much less common in men than women, though men are still susceptible to developing cellulite.
There are several risk factors for cellulite. In general, the condition tends to be genetic and affects women more than men. Other risk factors include pregnancy, increasing age, and a sedentary lifestyle. One misconception is that cellulite is associated with weight gain or weight excess, but cellulite is commonly seen in thin women as well.
What’s the Best Cellulite Treatment?
Treatments for cellulite include topical firming creams, injectable chemicals, subcision, liposuction, and laser treatments. Before you can decide which treatment is right for you, learn about each one, and consult with your doctor.
Topical products used to address cellulite typically incorporate a form of caffeine mixed with vitamins and a potpourri of herbal extract. The caffeine acts to dehydrate the superficial fat under your skin and in doing so, improves the appearance of cellulite. You should apply the product at least twice a day for six months. Results, however, tend to be short-lived, and no topical creams on the market offer a permanent solution for cellulite.
Injectable treatments for cellulite, also referred to as mesotherapy, act by injecting a mixture of vitamins, herbal extracts, and chemicals under the surface of your skin—the active ingredient is typically lecithin, which acts to digest fats. This may diminish the appearance of cellulite over time. These treatments carry risks including infection, prolonged swelling, lumps, and the creation of depressions under the skin, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Laser treatments work by initially injecting a numbing agent under your skin to be treated. Once numb, a small laser is introduced into the skin through a pinhole incision. The laser acts to disrupt fibrous bands, heat the underlying skin, and liquefy surrounding fat.
Laser-based therapies for cellulite treatment offer greater promise for the management of cellulite as compared to the aforementioned treatments. One such option is Cellulaze™, an FDA-cleared treatment for the reduction in the appearance of moderate cellulite, which is supported by long-term clinical data.
The treatment stimulates collagen production in your skin, resulting in improved skin tone and elasticity, giving your skin a smoother appearance. Results may last for one year or more, and it’s important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen to continue enjoying the results of your cellulite treatment.
More invasive solutions include liposuction and subcision. Liposuction can improve cellulite modestly. Subcisions for the treatment of cellulite have been around for a long time. This procedure, which is commonly performed in conjunction with liposuction, entails releasing the skin from the underlying muscle by cutting the fibrous cords through very small incisions in the skin. Risks include recurrence of cellulite, infection, extensive bruising, and tissue or skin loss.
Before considering a treatment for cellulite, consult with your doctor to figure out which procedure is right for you. Cellulite doesn’t have to be an insecurity you live with; there are solutions out there to help you feel more beautiful and confident in your skin.