Body Contouring

The Truth About Cellulite

Hate those thigh and buttock dimples? Wish you could wear a bathing suit without having to worry about unsightly lumps and bulges? You’re likely suffering from cellulite. We’ve all heard of cellulite, but what is it exactly? Cellulite, otherwise known in the medical field as adiposis edematosa, is nothing more than fat beneath the skin. In fact, cellulite is totally normal. It appears dimpled and lumpy because of fat that pushes against connective tissue, which causes the skin above it to pucker. Medical professionals often class cellulite using four grades:

  • Grade 0: No cellulite visible, even if the skin is pinched, and the skin looks and feels smooth.
  • Grade 1: Cellulite isn’t evident when you’re standing or sitting, but if the skin is pinched, it becomes noticeable.
  • Grade 2: Although cellulite isn’t visible when you’re lying down, it is visible upon standing up.
  • Grade 3: Skin looks lumpy and dimpled regardless of whether you’re standing or sitting.

There’s also two kinds of cellulite: hard and soft. Hard cellulite is not only unsightly, it’s a headache. Hard cellulite is difficult to treat because it’s more concentrated and develops close to—and sometimes even on—muscle. Soft cellulite is not such an emergency. It’s easier to treat because it doesn’t attach itself to the muscle. But it’s often more noticeable, and usually affects larger areas of the body.

What Causes Cellulite?

Cellulite is something of a mystery. Contrary to popular belief, having cellulite doesn’t mean you’re overweight – even thin people suffer those ugly dimples and bulges. And if you are overweight, losing weight may solve your cellulite problems. One thing is clear, however: Sorry ladies, but cellulite is more common in women than men. This is because women are more likely to have particular types of fat and connective tissue.

Cellulite Cross Section

Though the causes of cellulite continue to mystify scientists and doctors alike, there are several factors that may influence the development of cellulite:


No surprise here: Cellulite appears more often in people who eat too much fat, salt, and carbohydrates. This means gorging on candy, bread, fried foods and other unhealthy treats. Other risk factors for developing cellulite include not consuming enough fiber and not drinking enough water. So grab a water bottle and eat more fruits and veggies!

Lifestyle Factors

Don’t want cellulite? Then get off the couch. People who fail to exercise on a regular basis, and are overweight, are more likely to get cellulite. Even better, put out that cigarette and get moving. Cellulite is more prevalent in smokers, and those who sit or stand in one position for long periods of time.


There’s not much you can do about genetics, unfortunately. If your mother had cellulite, than you’re very likely to get cellulite, too. Genetics play a large role in the development of cellulite. Certain genetic predispositions can render an individual vulnerable to cellulite. Gender, race, slow metabolism, distribution of fat underneath the skin and insufficient circulation—all these contributing factors are out of your control when it comes to cellulite.


Don’t get your undies in a bunch—unless you want cellulite. Underwear with tight elastic across the buttocks, which limits blood flow, may contribute to the formation of cellulite.

Hormonal Factors

If all else fails, blame hormones. Many physicians now believe hormones play an important part in cellulite development. Estrogen, insulin, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones, and prolactin are all a part of the cellulite production process. That’s why pregnant women are more likely to develop cellulite.

All these factors and more can contribute to the formation of cellulite, and many of them are out of your control. There’s good news, however, for those with darker skin. Cellulite tends to be less noticeable on darker skin tones. If you have light skin and plan to be out in a bathing suit or shorts, applying a self-tanner may make the bumps and dimples on your buttocks and thighs less noticeable. But be careful: You should never tan. Tanning can actually make cellulite worse. Frequent exposure to UV rays damages skin, making it thinner and less resilient.

You Can Get Rid of Cellulite

There are an array of products and procedures designed to combat cellulite. But many of them lack sufficient evidence to support the claims they make. It’s important, therefore, to choose carefully when considering a product to eradicate cellulite. Before you invest in an anti-cellulite product or procedure, check out this list of the most popular ones on the market:

Massage & Spa Treatments

Don’t place too much faith in massage. Though massage and other spa treatments such as body wraps may have a temporary effect on the dimpling and lumpy appearance of skin, they do not remove cellulite. Any cellulite reducing effect is most likely due to the temporary removal of excess fluid.


VelaShape offers cellulite sufferers new hope. A body contouring treatment, VelaShape is the only FDA cleared device that effectively and safely contours, shapes and slims the body by reducing cellulite and firming problem areas. VelaShape achieves this through its revolutionary, patented technology. VelaShape combines four different components to combat cellulite, including radiofrequency technology, infrared light energy, vacuum and mechanical massage. VelaShape really does work. Clinical studies have proven VelaShape to be effective against cellulite by gradually smoothing the skin’s surface.

Laser Treatments

Lasers work magic, even on cellulite. Laser treatments such as Cellulaze can melt fat and break up the fibrous bands under the skin, all the while stimulating collagen production. The result? A marked decrease in the appearance of cellulite. Cellulaze has been cleared by the FDA to blast away cellulite. In clinical trials, 93% of patients surveyed reported being satisfied—and sometimes even very satisfied—with the results of their laser treatment.


We’ve all heard of liposuction, the surgical procedure that removes fat deposits from specific areas on the body. But contrary to popular belief, liposuction is ineffective against treating cellulite because it removes deep fat, not cellulite, which is just beneath the skin. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology warns that liposuction may actually worsen the appearance of cellulite by creating more depressions in the skin.


This is an odd one. Mesotherapy involves injecting substances, like vitamins, minerals and amino acids, into the tissue just beneath the skin. Though Mesotherapy may break down fat and slightly improve the appearance of cellulite, it carries substantial risks such as swelling, infection and irregular contours. Who needs that?

Cellulite Creams

Cellulite creams often claim to work wonders. Many cellulite creams claim to dissolve fat and smooth the skin. But there is no scientific evidence that cellulite creams actually combat cellulite. Any noticeable results are most likely due to the temporary narrowing of blood vessels, which forces water from the skin. But before you dismiss creams, be aware that a twice daily application of .3 percent retinol cream has been shown to improve the appearance of cellulite after six months.

Win the War on Cellulite

Cellulite treatments number as the stars. You could spend thousands of dollars on them, if you wanted. But the most beneficial cellulite treatment—and the most affordable—is following a healthy diet and exercise program. Losing weight, following an aerobic exercise plan and strengthening muscles in your legs, thighs, buttocks and abdomen can significantly improve the appearance of dimpled skin. What’s more, drinking lots of water, not smoking, increasing your fiber intake and avoiding a high-carbohydrate diet can also improve the appearance of cellulite. You can win the war on cellulite. So what are you waiting for? You’ve got nothing to lose but inches.