Cellulite is an incredibly common condition, thought to affect more than 85% of women. It is also known as "orange peel" or "cottage cheese" skin, because of its "lumpy" and "dimpled" appearance. Cellulite occurs when the fat cells enlarge constricting blood and lymph circulation. This in turn slows down the metabolism of the fat cells causing them increase further, trapping a build-up of water and waste around them. These enlarged fat cells push on the fibrous bands that connect the skin to the underlying tissue, pulling the skin down in dimples. Medical names for the condition also include: adiposis edematosa, dermopanniculosis deformans, status protrusus cutis, and gynoid lipodystrophy.
There are many different cause of cellulite. Hormones: Many women develop cellulite during or post pregnancy or after going on the pill because the body's waste system can't get rid of the increased oestrogen in the body. Genetics: There is a hereditary factor to cellulite so if other women in your family have it, you are more likely to develop it to. Medication: Taking certain types of medication can also lead to cellulite. These include diet pills, sleeping pills and diuretics. The contraceptive pill is also believed to increase cellulite formation because of its tendency to produce high levels of oestrogen. It also leads to water retention, which inhibits the body from flushing the system. Lack of exercise: Poor circulation and muscle tone as the result of a sedentary lifestyle can also lead to cellulite. Lack of exercise also hardens the connective tissues in the skin. Not drinking enough water If you are not drinking enough water then your body is probably not flushing out all the toxins that can contribute to cellulite. Cellulite is a mixture of fat, water, and toxic wastes, so drinking plenty of water can help diminish its appearance. Poor diet: Alcohol, processed food, sugar, caffeine and salty, fatty foods can all contribute to an increase in cellulite, not merely because they make you put on weight, but also because they produce toxins that then get trapped in the fatty tissue. Smoking: Because smoking depletes collagen in the body and damages the connective tissues in the skin, it can also be a contributing factor in cellulite. Crash Diets: You may think dieting would help cellulite and it can, when done sensibly, but crash dieting or yo-yo dieting can make cellulite worse. This is because these types of extreme diets lead the body to believe it is starving and start storing fat.
Cellulite most commonly appears on the thighs and buttocks but you can get it on other areas of the body, including the arms and abdomen.
Cellulite mainly affects women, although a very small percentage or men do suffer from it. Doctors believe the reason it is more prevalent in women is because one of the causes of cellulite is high levels of the female hormone oestrogen. The structure of connective tissue is also different in men stopping the uneven appearance. It is a myth that you have to be overweight to get cellulite, women of all shapes and sizes can develop cellulite, however weight gain can worsen the problem. Cellulite also tends to be more noticeable on people with fairer skin types.