Raise your hands if you have suffered from cellulite? I have and it’s not at all surprising. Cellulite is a common condition that affects approximately 90% of women, on areas of our bodies where subcutaneous fat tissue is found, e.g. our thighs, hips and buttocks.
It is a normal part of the female anatomy, no matter how unfair it seems. Cellulite is a term that describes the appearance of ‘bumpy/lumpy’ looking fat on our bodies but it’s not a disease. The term originated from French medical literature over 150 years ago and the term has evolved ever since (1); the media and beauty companies have played a terrible role in this.
The media have victimised and targeted female celebrities cellulite repetitiously. I’ve tuned off to the fact that they print these horrific pictures which try to dictate our self-worth.
The beauty industry is attuned to our insecurities and various names for cellulite have developed as a result: ‘orange peel’, ‘cottage cheese’, ‘mattress’ or ‘pin cushion’ skin. It’s all very distasteful and they throw insult to injury by endorsing products that supposedly ‘help alleviate all our cellulite worries’.
There have been a few scientific studies into the structure of cellulite but there has been many claims and products advocated by companies without scientific evidence. Some products and techniques include:
1. Spa Treatments
Massage And Other Treatments
Massage, body wrapping, laser and ‘radio-frequency’ techniques have been used.
They may have a temporary effect on cellulite reducing ‘dimpling’, but they do not necessarily ‘remove and eliminate’ cellulite in the long term.
It penetrates the top layer of the skin without pain/bleeding; the puncture wounds are supposed to stimulate collagen and elastin production.
The claim:‘new collagen enables the skin to become thicker, stronger and more elastic, reducing the ‘dimpled’ areas and improving skin circulation’.
2. Potential Cosmetic Interventions
Going under the knife seems like a very drastic solution for anything, one that should not be taken lightly. The cost alone is enough to keep us out of hospital gowns.
Dermal fillers have also been thought to help, but again this is a costly endeavour and the results only last a few months.
3. D.I.Y Cellulite Accessories
Some products with Centella asiatica claim to help cellulite. Some are said to break down fat and smooth the skin, but none have shown permanent results.
“Their apparent effect on cellulite may be due to narrowing blood vessels and forcing water from the skin, which could be dangerous for people with circulatory problems.” WebMD
Thermal Compression Leggings
They claim: to eliminate cellulite through massage action and ‘special ingredients’. Mesh fibres in the leggings massage the skin as we move, and are said to ‘improve our circulation, encouraging lymphatic drainage and help to rid us of cellulite’.
Ironically, wearing our ‘normal’, tight clothing can contribute to the appearance of cellulite as it has been said to ‘cut off circulation and limit blood flow’.
Dry Body Brushing
Brushing and/or stroking in the direction of our heart (on a regular basis), is said to increase lymphatic drainage and encourage fat dispersion that help ‘combat cellulite’.
Food Items And Pills
Some things claim: to help improve nutrition to our bodies cells and connective tissue, displace fluid, influence blood flow and weight loss or remove ‘toxins’ from our bodies, all of which should ‘aid cellulite reduction’.
Staying hydrated will help keep our connective tissue strong and supple. This ‘might aid weight loss and assist with cellulite appearance and formation’.
So what types of myths have led to the marketing of these products?
|Myths||True or False?|
|Cellulite only affects fat people, never skinny people.||False. It can affect all body types.|
|Losing weight will get rid me of my cellulite.||True & False. It will help reduce it and improve your skin’s appearance, but may not totally eliminate it.|
|It’s caused from toxins in our bodies.||False. Cellulite is not directly linked to ‘toxins’ and this claim is not supported by science.|
|It’s caused only by a bad diet.||False. An unhealthy diet can lead to weight gain, which is factored into cellulite formation, but there are a variety of aspects that cause it.|
|People that exercise don’t get cellulite.||False. It can help to minimise the appearance, but certain type of exercises have been proven to be better than others for this.|
|Its caused by your genes||True & false. Some people have a genetic disposition, but it is only one potential cause.|
|It’s caused by lack of exercise.||True & false. This can be a cause, but it is only one factor.|
|Smoking is the cause of cellulite.||False. It has been shown to reduce blood vessel flow, and weaken and disrupt the formation of collagen (which doesn’t help our connective tissue or cellulite issues) but it’s not a sole factor in this debate.|
Let’s analyse how it develops and maybe it will help debunk some of
How Cellulite Develops
According to some dermatologists, there are different types of cellulite that can be caused by fat and fluid retention… but who is affected? …Mainly us I’m afraid to say.
Men and women both have different ‘outer and inner’ skin layers (the epidermis and dermis) in their thigh and buttocks and this is instrumental in why we develop it and why it’s less common in men. Men have a layer of fat under the skin that is separated by criss-crossed connective tissue, where a woman’s is not; collagen also helps to form the tissue.
Cellulite forms when the under layer of fat pushes against the (sometimes weakened) connective tissue, causing the skin to pucker and small pockets of fat to form, creating that ‘dimpling effect’ (as it pushes through the tissue) on the skin’s surface. The variations in connective and fat tissue could be due to hormone variations; hormones influence the production of both cellulite and fat tissue. Our fat distribution is heredity but the quantity is determined by our lifestyle choices/factors but we need a healthy layer of fat though to make us look good, otherwise we’d be walking skeletons!
In addition, if our muscle fibres are not stimulated through exercise, this creates no support for our outer layer of skin; muscle atrophy. Toned muscles help push the skin out, giving it a tighter & smoother appearance. As we get older, our skin naturally loses elasticity, we have less oestrogen production, and if combined with bad lifestyle choices, can all lead to weakened connective tissue and cellulite formation.
So Is There A Permanent Solution?
There are various websites that can offer toning and cardio advice to help improve our skin’s appearance, and you can refer to my previous articles for healthy eating advice.
The truth is that there is no definitive explanation for its appearance, which makes it hard to treat and improve it. Since it’s not singly related to diet or fluid intake, lack of exercise, stress levels, poor circulation, or our genes, consequently creams, pills or gadgets are not necessarily going to help. Even if there was an expensive cream or surgery to get rid of it, would you pay for it?
How much money or pain would you go through to get rid of it? Shouldn’t we be embracing our bodies and its imperfections? We have to remember that ‘body perfection’ does not exist.
So let’s follow a healthy lifestyle regime which includes: a healthy diet and an ‘all over’ weight-reduction program (cardio, strength training and toning exercises).This multi-approach will help minimise the appearance of our cellulite and help us look and feel our best.
What have you tried? Share your experiences in the box below.
Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: Candace Jones Flickr