Understanding Cellulite: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options


John Saad

Cellulite is a condition that makes your skin look bumpy, lumpy, or puckered. It happens when small areas of fat push through the tissue that connects your skin and sit under the surface of your skin. Some people describe it as looking like the skin of an orange or cottage cheese.

Cellulite’s exact cause is unknown, according to experts. However, they understand that the relationship between your skin, connective tissue, and fat is what causes cellulite to develop. Things like genetics, age, and lifestyle can make it worse.

While cellulite can become more noticeable with weight gain, having cellulite does not necessarily mean that you are overweight. Anyone, regardless of their size or body shape, can have it. Actually, around 80-98% of people who were assigned female at birth have cellulite. It usually shows up on the thighs, hips, and buttocks.

Cellulite is not harmful, but it can still be a cosmetic concern for some people. While it’s not possible to completely remove cellulite, there are many products and treatments available that can help reduce its appearance.

What is the Main Cause of Cellulite?

The exact cause of cellulite is not known. Cellulite occurs when the fibrous bands that connect your skin to the underlying muscle become tight and irregular. When your skin tightens, it pulls down, while the layer of fat underneath pushes up. The skin looks puckered.

It is not known why cellulite is more common in women than men. One theory suggests that there are bands that connect your skin, subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis), and deep muscle layers. In men, the connective bands are made up of fibers that crisscross each other. In women, the fibers that make up the connective bands run in the same direction and are evenly spaced apart (parallel). Parallel bands can make puckering more visible compared to crisscross bands.

Another idea is that having more of the hormone estrogen in the body might be a cause of cellulite. Cellulite is a condition that often occurs when women produce more estrogen, which typically happens during adolescence or pregnancy.

Considering All Factors Related to Cellulite

The exact reason why cellulite occurs is not known, but it seems to happen when the connective tissue in the layer of skin below the surface interacts with the layer of fat right beneath it. In women, the fat cells and connective tissue in this layer are positioned vertically.

When the fat cells push through the skin layer, it creates the look of cellulite. In men, the tissue has a criss-cross structure, which may explain why they are less likely to have cellulite than women. There seem to be other factors that are connected to the likelihood of having cellulite.

Hormonal and Age Factors

Hormones are likely to be important in the development of cellulite. Estrogen, insulin, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones, and prolactin are involved in the process of producing cellulite.

What Is Cellulite

One theory suggests that as women approach menopause and estrogen levels decrease, there is a decrease in blood flow to the connective tissue under the skin. When there is less circulation, there is less oxygen in the area, which leads to lower collagen production. When estrogen levels decrease, fat cells also get bigger.

These factors come together to make the fat deposits more noticeable. The familiar dimpling effect occurs when the fat under the skin pushes through weakened connective tissue. As we age, our skin becomes less elastic, thinner, and more likely to sag. Cellulite is more likely to develop because of this.

Genetic Factors

Specific genes are necessary for the formation of cellulite. Genetic factors can affect how fast a person’s metabolism is, where fat is stored under the skin, a person’s ethnicity, and their circulatory levels. These factors can influence the likelihood of developing cellulite.

Lifestyle and Diet Factors

Cellulite is not caused by “toxins,” but living a healthy lifestyle may help lower the chances of getting it. If you eat too much fat, carbohydrates, and salt, and not enough fiber, you are more likely to have more cellulite. It might be more common in people who smoke, don’t exercise, or spend a lot of time sitting or standing in one place.

Wearing underwear with tight elastic across the buttocks can restrict blood flow, which may lead to the development of cellulite. Cellulite is more common in people who have extra fat, but even slim and fit people can have it. It is more common for this to happen after the age of 25, but it can also affect younger people, including teenagers.

Symptoms and Risk Factors of Cellulite

Cellulite appears as skin that has a dimpled or bumpy texture. Some people describe it as having a texture similar to cottage cheese or an orange peel. If you want to see mild cellulite, you can pinch your skin in an area where you have cellulite, like your thighs. When cellulite is more severe, it causes the skin to look uneven and bumpy, with areas that are raised and depressed. Cellulite is most often found on the thighs and buttocks, but it can also appear on the breasts, lower abdomen, and upper arms.

Cellulite is more frequently found in women than in men. Actually, most women develop cellulite after they go through puberty. Women tend to have fat distributed in their thighs, hips, and buttocks, which are common areas for cellulite. Cellulite is more likely to occur as you get older because your skin becomes less elastic. Cellulite can become more noticeable when a person gains weight, but it can also be present in lean individuals. Cellulite often runs in families, suggesting that genetics may have the greatest influence on whether or not you develop it. Not being active and being pregnant can both increase your chances of having cellulite.

Grades of Cellulite

Here are the different grades that classify how severe cellulite is:

  • Grade 0: When you press on the skin, there are no changes in its appearance or any dimpling.
  • Grade 1:  You cannot see any changes when you are lying down or standing up, but you can notice dimpling when pressure is applied to the skin.
  • Grade 2: When you’re lying down, your skin appears smooth. However, when you stand up, you can see dimpling on the skin.
  • Grade 3: When you stand or lie down, you may notice visible dimpling of the skin. This can sometimes cause soreness.

Treatment and Removal of Cellulite

There have been many suggestions for getting rid of cellulite, but none of them have been proven by scientific research. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has studied different methods that can potentially reduce the appearance of cellulite by targeting the bands of connective tissue beneath the skin.

What Is Cellulite

  • Acoustic wave therapy involves using a small device to send sound waves. It might be effective, but it could require multiple sessions.
  • Laser treatment can make cellulite look better for at least a year. The process includes placing a tiny laser probe beneath the skin. Then, the laser is used to break up the tissue. Increasing collagen production can also thicken the skin.
  • Subcision is a procedure where a dermatologist uses a needle to break up the bands of connective tissue under the skin. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says that the results can last for 2 years or even longer.
  • Vacuum-assisted precise tissue release is a procedure that uses a device with small blades to cut the bands. When the connective bands are cut, the tissue underneath moves up to fill the space under the skin, which gets rid of cellulite. This could continue for a period of 3 years, but there is not much information available about how successful it has been.
  • Endermologie is a treatment that uses a vacuum-like device to give a deep massage and lift the skin. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it as safe, but the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says there is little evidence that it works.
  • Carboxytherapy is a procedure where carbon dioxide gas is injected under the skin. After the procedure, you might experience bruising and discomfort. However, it is possible that some cellulite may disappear.
  • Ionithermie cellulite reduction treatment includes applying a special mud or clay to the affected area, then wrapping it in plastic and using an electric current. There is no evidence to show that it works.
  • Radiotherapy is a treatment that uses heat to try to reduce cellulite. However, the effects of this treatment only last for a short period of time.
  • Laser-assisted liposuction is a procedure that removes small amounts of fat. However, it is important to note that this procedure may actually make dimpling worse. Studies have not yet proven that it is effective in reducing cellulite.
  • Ultrasonic liposculpting is a procedure that aims to eliminate fat, but there is not enough research to prove its effectiveness.

The AAD does not recommend using cryolipolysis, a technique that freezes fat, or mesotherapy, a technique that involves injecting a mixture of substances under the skin.

Medications and Creams Used to Cure Cellulite

There are medications and creams that have been suggested because they work on fatty tissues.

  • Caffeine removes water from cells, which makes them harder to see. You should use this every day. You can buy different creams that contain caffeine to help reduce cellulite on the internet.
  • Retinol can make the skin thicker and potentially reduce the appearance of cellulite. You need to use it for at least 6 months to see results. Before using a product, it is important to do a patch test first. This is because some people have had negative reactions, like a racing heart. You can purchase retinol treatments online.

Some researchers have suggested using medications to improve cell metabolism and circulation, but these medications have not been tested or proven to be effective.

What Can Be the Alternative Solutions for Cellulite?

Other options for treatment or additional therapies include caffeine, grape seed extract, or gingko biloba. These agents have been used on the skin, taken by mouth, and given by injection, but none of them have been shown to work.

Compression garments are worn by some people to make cellulite less noticeable. These clothes are designed to squeeze the arteries and improve blood and lymph circulation in order to reduce the appearance of cellulite. You can buy compression stockings and other garments online.

Liposuction and dieting cannot get rid of cellulite because they do not change the structure of the connective tissue. However, if you reduce your fat intake, it means you will have less fat to move through your body’s tissues. If you eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise, it may help reduce the appearance of cellulite.

In 2015, a review was conducted. A reliable source of various studies on the effectiveness of different techniques found that either the procedures did not work, or there were flaws in the research methodology. Because of this, it’s important to be cautious when considering any promise to eliminate cellulite.

Can Exercise Get Rid of Cellulite?

Working out can make cellulite look better. When you exercise regularly, it helps to increase your muscle mass, which can make cellulite less noticeable. It also helps improve blood flow to specific parts of your body, which can help speed up the process of losing fat. Here are some activities that can help make your cellulite look better:

  • Running.
  • Cycling.
  • Resistance training.


Cellulite is a condition that causes skin to appear bumpy, lumpy, or puckered due to small fat areas pushing through the connective tissue. It is more common in women than men, but it can also be caused by hormonal and age factors, genetics, lifestyle, and lifestyle. Hormones like estrogen, insulin, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones, and prolactin play a role in cellulite development. Genetic factors, such as fast metabolism, fat storage, ethnicity, and circulatory levels, can also influence cellulite development. Lifestyle factors, such as excessive fat consumption, smoking, and sitting for extended periods, can also contribute to cellulite. Cellulite is more common in women and can appear on the thighs, hips, buttocks, breasts, lower abdomen, and upper arms. It is more likely to occur as people age due to less elastic skin and can be more noticeable with weight gain.

Cellulite is classified into three grades: Grade 0 (no changes) and Grade 1 (dimpling). Treatment options include acoustic wave therapy, laser treatment, subcision, vacuum-assisted precise tissue release, endermologie, carboxytherapy, ionithermie, radiotherapy, laser-assisted liposuction, ultrasonic liposculpting, cryolipolysis, and mesotherapy. However, none have been proven effective.

Medications and creams used to treat cellulite include caffeine, retinol, and medications to improve cell metabolism and circulation. Alternative solutions include caffeine, grape seed extract, gingko biloba, compression garments, and diet. However, liposuction and dieting cannot completely eliminate cellulite.

Exercise can help reduce cellulite appearance by increasing muscle mass and improving blood flow. However, studies have shown that these methods do not change the structure of connective tissue. Exercise, running, cycling, and resistance training can also help reduce cellulite.