What causes cellulite?
Cellulite is nearly universal in all women past the age of puberty, irrespective of race and ethnic background. We are a nation obsessed with cellulite. We splash pictures of celebrity cellulite across every gossip magazine and search the internet for celebrity cellulite secrets, cellulite home remedies, cellulite exercises and “natural” ways to get rid of cellulite.
Sadly, cellulite is natural if you are a woman. It affects 85-98% of us, no matter how thin or fit we may be.
The connective tissue supporting the fat just below the skin is designed differently in women compared to men. In men, the connective tissue fibers are primarily parallel to the skin. Thus, men have minimal pulling down of the skin by the fat deposits.
Women’s fat is organized perpendicular to the skin. When we age, the connective tissue supporting the fat hardens and contracts. The contraction of the hardened tissue pulls the fat into abnormal positions leading to the dimpled appearance that characterizes cellulite.
The hardened connective tissue is the primary cause of cellulite. It not only forces the fat into abnormal positions, but additionally leads to blockage of the small blood vessels and lymphatics that normally drain fluid from the area and supply fresh, oxygenated blood.
The build up of fluids and lack of fresh oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood (improved circulation) is the underlying cause that many cellulite treatments try to address. Endermologie, for example, is a hand-held device that employs massage and skin kneading to the affected areas. The skin is pulled and kneaded between 2 rollers in an effort to promote lymphatic drainage.
Some spas also offer “cellulite massage” in an effort to improve lymphatic drainage and circulation. These cellulite treatments may indeed offer a small, temporary improvement in the appearance and may be an effective adjunctive treatment to an anti-cellulite program, but they fail to address the primary cause of cellulite- the hardened septae, or connective tissue supporting the fat.