Cellulite: What is it and how to get rid of it

I have had cellulite as long as I can remember. My skin is pale and not very thick so all the fat just shines through it. You can imagine, it’s not a pretty sight. The thing is though that I’m actually quite OK with it.

Cellulite how to get rid of it

Did you know that 80 – 90 % of women have cellulite? And about 10 % of men.

So if you have cellulite you’re not alone 🙂 It’s normal, almost every woman has it and as we get older we really don’t even worry about it that much anymore.

However, I do think that we are intrigued by cellulite and that’s why I decided to write this article. In this post I will tell you:

  • what cellulite is
  • why you have it (unless you’re one of the lucky ones that don’t have it)
  • how you can get rid of it – is it possible?

What is cellulite?

If we want to be exact then what we mean by cellulite is actually just the bumpy appearance of the skin in our buttocks and thighs in particular.

Cellulite is mainly caused by two things:

  1. Fat
  2. Structure of the connective tissue under our skin.

And that’s it. Simple isn’t it?

So cellulite is not a medical problem, it isn’t actually a health problem at all because it isn’t in any way harmful to our health. It is not toxins building up, as some claim.

It is just fat and that fat looks like cellulite on our skin because of the structure of the connective tissue under our skin.

Cellulite and connective tissue

Here’s how it works:

Cellulite has that bumpy look, because the fat that we have under our skin is pushed against connective tissue. The skin that is above the connective tissue gives in and this in turn creates the dimpled skin that we call cellulite.

So, in order to have cellulite – there needs to be both fat and this particular structure of the skin that I mentioned above (connective tissue pushing fat “pockets” towards the surface of the skin). This explains why even skinny women have it: everyone has some fat under the skin and the structure of the connective tissue very much defines whether we have cellulite or not.

Why do women have cellulite and most men don’t?

This comes down to the structure of the connective tissue:

It’s different.

Take a look at the picture below. As you can see I try to keep things as simple as possible 🙂

When it comes to women, the connective tissue is vertical. Imagine the fat cells between those lines and our skin above them. When there’s a lot of fat between those lines the skin above will inevitably get bumpy.

On the other hand men have a net-like criss-crossing structure of connective tissue which makes it stronger and a lot more supportive: the fat doesn’t “budge” and the surface of the skin looks smooth.

Connective tissue
The difference in connective tissue structures between women and men

Men usually also have thicker skin than women, they have lower fat percentage and the fat is distributed differently from women.

Why you have cellulite?

You have cellulite for these reasons:

1. Sex and Genes

Sex and genes play the biggest part:

If you’re a woman, you very likely have the kind of structure of the connective tissue that makes your fat deposits look like cellulite on your skin (take a look at the picture just a little bit above).

If your mother has cellulite and you are a woman, it is quite likely that you will have some cellulite too.

2. You have a high body fat percentage

Cellulite is fat – if you have a high body fat percentage then you are more likely to have cellulite. If you lose body fat then it is possible that your cellulite will diminish and your skin will look smoother.

3. You have yo-yo dieted a lot in the past

This has a lot to do with reason number two because when we yo-yo diet this is what usually happens:

  1. You lose weight, perhaps quickly. Some of that weight you lose is fat, some of it is muscle.
  2. You gain all that weight back, perhaps quickly. Most of the weight that you gain is fat.

Result: Your fat percentage is higher than it was before you lost the weight.

4. Skin texture

I mentioned the pale complexion and thin layer of my skin at the beginning of this post. Skin color and thickness are also factors why some people have and some might not have cellulite. The thicker your skin is, the less it is likely to budge because of fat under the skin. And the darker skin you have the less bumpy it will appear.

Age is a factor too because skin loses some of its elasticity when we get older.

5. Poor diet and problems with hormone balance

What we eat matters: cellulite is fat.

Several hormones play part in cellulite production: for example excessive insulin increases fat in our bodies. Try to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet and eat as much clean food as possible. If you want to make a project of it, you can try a program such as Whole30 (see my results) and see how it works for you.

6. Not enough water

What we drink matters too. Make sure you drink enough water every day. Dehydration leads to dry skin and dry skin makes cellulite look worse.

7. Not enough exercise

There are a lot of specialists who believe that sedentary lifestyle – meaning lack of exercise and sitting by our desk all day – contribute to cellulite formation. We need to exercise in order to improve our blood circulation and gain muscle.

Cellulite and shopping

As I get older I notice that I’m kinder to myself when it comes to my body. I’m usually only ever slightly distraught about my cellulite when I go shopping and happen to step into a changing room that has a horrible lighting.

If that happens to you, then this is what you can do:

  1. Look at your face in the mirror. If you see the pores of your skin, continue to phase number 2.
  2. Take your clothes off without looking in the mirror.
  3. The clothes that you’re trying out – put them on without looking in the mirror.
  4. Take a look at yourself in the mirror only when you are wearing these new clothes.

You’ll save yourself a lot of misery and bad temper by doing this.

How to get rid of cellulite

If you have a lot of cellulite, then you probably won’t be able to get rid of it completely. And I think that for most of us, that isn’t really our goal either.

But if you want to lose some of that cellulite, then it certainly is possible.

Get rid of cellulite: treatment options

There are several types of injections, massages, rollers, suctions and other anti-cellulite treatments that you can try but none of them can lose the fat or change the structure of the connective tissue – these are the real problems. Some will be able to break down the fat and and even make the skin look a bit better, at least for a while, but they carry risks too. For example vitamin injections could cause infections.

Even liposuction won’t help because it removes internal fat, not the one just under our skin that causes the cellulite. In some cases liposuction might even make your cellulite worse.

There is obviously a huge market for cellulite treatment – most women have cellulite – so there is constant research on new methods. Some of the new methods combine massage to radiotherapy, infrared light and lasers and can bring short-term results. The newest technology lasers are able to break up the connective tissue fibers.

Can you believe that there are actually fillers that you can inject to your thighs? Yep. They even out the skin so they might make your cellulite skin look a little better but obviously the results are temporary and the treatment costs a lot.

Unless you have a lot of spare money to spend it might be wiser to stay with the at-home remedies:

Get rid of cellulite: at home options

It is possible to make your skin look smoother at home and you can do it by following these four steps:

Cellulite fighting tool kit
Cellulite fighting tool kit

1. Make exercising a habit

The most important thing that you have to do is exercise. Strength training in particular gets results. Remember that cellulite is a visual “problem” more than anything. Now, if you are able to gain some muscle then the fat that sits between your muscle and your skin will look smoother as the skin gets tighter.

2. Lose some fat

There are some specialists that suggest it is not possible to get rid of cellulite by dieting. I believe the specialists that say it is possible:

If you are overweight then you probably will get rid of some of your cellulite if you manage to lose weight. This is because – as we already mentioned – cellulite is fat.

However:

If you go on a crazy diet (where you lose weight really quickly), you will lose weight from your muscles with the result that the appearance of your cellulite might actually get worse.

You really want to aim for losing fat and gaining muscle. This is why you need to combine diet and exercise.

3. Switch cellulite creams to moisturizers

Cellulite creams might help us temporarily with the appearance of the skin but they will not help us burn fat. Creams only work on the surface of the skin, they have absolutely no effect on the fat. In fact they might even be harmful because they could cause allergic reactions or problems to people with circulatory issues.

You’re actually much better off using a very good moisturizer because that will give you the effect you’re looking for: If your skin is well moisturized it will look healthier, plumper and smoother. My favorite moisturizer is Aveeno’s Skin relief moisturizing lotion. Just use your favorite moisturizer – or coconut oil – daily.

Dry brushing / massage

Dry brushing or any other sort of gentle massage will give you some results – if you do it regularly. This is because as you stretch the skin the movement will make the connective bands (that create the cellulite look) stretch too. This will create a smoother looking skin. Dry brushing will also remove dead skin cells, increase the blood circulation and lymphatic flow, and make your skin feel softer.

A natural bristle brush that has a handle is probably the best option, but any dry brushing “device” will do.

As I mentioned you will have to keep massaging your skin or the dimply skin will return.

Read more tips on how to dry brush your skin.

Happy life with cellulite

Well, that almost rhymes!

The bottom line is that cellulite is absolutely normal and we should not spend our lives worrying about it. As with all things in life, our health is the most important thing we have and living as healthy a life we can will actually help us get smoother skin as well.

So let’s not make it too complicated – enjoy the body that you have and be good to yourself 🙂

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