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Cellulite: The Definitive Guide
Without the scientific explanation of cellulite, many women would simply call it a confidence stealer and some won’t even utter the word.
The arrival of warmer weather has us running to cover up our thighs or we may not even venture to the beach at all. Suffering from cellulite can take away our willingness to show off our curves or get undressed in front of a significant other.
It can be quite unsightly while standing opposite your reflection in the mirror, but one thing to keep in mind is that it is very common.
There are many myths and theories surrounding what actually causes cellulite and what can fix it. Hopefully with this information, you will have the tools and knowledge to either prevent it or at least minimise its appearance.
Most are familiar with cellulite; commonly found around the buttocks, thighs or stomach and commonly found on the female body.
The visual appearance of our top layer of skin is effected by uneven indents and dimples, taking away what was once a smooth, flat surface. Yet the question remains, what is cellulite?
What causes cellulite?
The second layer of skin holds our connective tissue, the home of collagen and elastin. These are the two protein’s which are significantly in charge of retaining our skin tone, shape and elasticity.
While hidden beneath our first layer of skin, the condition of our connective tissue is obvious from the outside.
Imagine laying a thin film of plastic over a slice of cottage cheese; you could see lumps and bumps everywhere! In fact, cellulite is often compared to cottage cheese or orange peel.
So what causes these unsightly lumps and bumps? They are the fat deposits below the connective tissue, pushing upwards, towards our top layer of skin.
Cellulite is not a medical condition and I’m sorry to say, it’s here to stay. However recent studies suggests that there are simple, effective and natural ways that we can minimise cellulite or even get rid of it completely.
Does cellulite effect men?
Currently, up to 98 percent of women either have cellulite or experience it during their lifetime.
Most men however don’t suffer as frequently from the appearance of cellulite.
They have been blessed with a different skin structure. The connective tissue on the female body is structured vertically, allowing more space for fat tissue to protrude upwards. Men on the other hand have a criss-cross structure.
This acts as a more effective prevention for fat deposits to show through.
How to prevent cellulite
Now before you put even more pressure on yourself to lose weight, it’s important to know that these fat deposits are part of a normal fat group that inhabits every body type.
They are not necessarily a symptom of obesity.
This also means that those on the slimmer spectrum of the scales can also just as easily experience cellulite.
Although less surface area of skin can somewhat minimise the appearance of cellulite. It is a complete myth that “skinny” people don’t suffer from it.
Firstly, if you are in the majority of cellulite sufferers, it’s important to know that cellulite can be a difficult thing to get rid of.
However improving the overall condition of your body is a great start. The two key factors to consider are skin tone and blood flow.
Skin tone – strength training
With this basic scientific information about our skin, we can connect the dots in regards to the condition of our connective tissue and fat deposits rearing their ugly head. What can we do to take best care of that connective tissue?
As mentioned above, the tissue houses the collagen and elastin in our skin which in turn aid the health of our skin tone.
This is where strengthening and firming our skin tone and maximising blood flow is very important.
Strength training is high on the list for firming skin and improving its tone while getting your blood pumping at the same time. This could include yoga, weight lifting or exercises such as squats or lunges. Exercises such as these are utilising your muscles and strengthening.
As a result this has a flow on effect to tone and firm your skin around them. You can investigate options in your local area for classes or have a look at our article on the 20 best exercises to get rid of cellulite.
Blood flow – movement
Another important factor to remember is that collagen production is impacted by blood flow, also known as circulation.
This means that your job at that desk, thirty-eight hours a week, is impacting your body if you’re not finding time to move regularly.
While your blood isn’t flowing as much as it could be, collagen production slows and your skin elasticity changes over time. This allowing more room for fat deposits to make their way upwards through less taut tissue.
If you do have that desk job which limits your movement during the day, find ways to become more active such as gym visits, lunchtime walks or other ways to incorporate movement into your role.
This could include ten minute breaks or standing and stretching while on a phone call. The key here is movement. Movement equals blood flow, better circulation, collagen production and hopefully muscle strengthening!
What about cellulite massage?
Additional activities such as regular remedial massage and dry skin brushing are also great ways to improve your circulation. Massage may be an obvious answer to stimulating your muscles and organs but dry skin brushing is a much less common habit that can provide benefits to your health.
Using a bath brush with natural vegetable bristles, you can practice the daily act of “brushing” your dry skin in a single sweeping motion towards your heart. Not only does this process boost your circulation but it also encourages your lymph nodes to release any built-up toxins. What a bonus!
If you’re interested in DIY massage at home there’s also a large number of cellulite massagers on the market. These can help apply high frequency vibrations that tend to enhance blood flow and circulation.
Diet – foods to get rid of cellulite
Lastly, your diet is always going to be a huge part of your health. Once again, eating the right foods cannot cure cellulite completely but there are definitely simple tweaks that can be made to minimise its appearance.
Any foods that contribute to expanding your fat cells are going to contribute to your cellulite. Sugar does a harmful job of this as do foods which are high in cholesterol. While flaxseed, dark green veggies and salmon are a few types of food that aid collagen production and are a simple way to top up on those much-needed nutrients.
Additionally, cayenne pepper has been shown to improve blood circulation with regular consumption. There are off the shelf cayenne supplements available if you’re not keen on spicy food.
One important factor of diet with a multitude of benefits is water intake. When it comes to cellulite and water, the more you hydrate your body, the better your blood flow and the less chance your skin loses elasticity due to dehydration. For a comprehensive list of cellulite blasting foods have a look at our article on the best foods to get rid of cellulite.
Moving on, there are also some things that just cannot be controlled.
As we age, the elasticity of our skin naturally decreases and women also have the symptoms of menopause to contend with.
Menopause minimises oestrogen levels which starts to affect your fat cells and collagen production. If for other reasons besides menopause you have lower oestrogen levels, you may suffer the same symptoms.
Other factors such as an injury or a food intolerance can impact the way you exercise or what foods you can ingest and a hormonal condition such as thyroid imbalance can also play a part in cellulite development.
So don’t forget that ageing is definitely an uncontrollable contributing factor to cellulite while talking to your doctor about other self care options may have a flow on effect to minimise the appearance of your lumps and bumps.
All we can do is try and stay as healthy and active as possible for our personal circumstances and please always remember to consult your doctor if you plan on making any changes to your diet or exercise regime.
Now let’s talk myths! The marketing gimmick that compression clothing – tights, underwear, active wear – can cure or repair cellulite is dangerous because it tempts you to spend your hard earned money on something that won’t give you results.
The impact of these garments on your body can actually have the opposite effect to what you would like.
While our bodies are trapped inside these types of clothes, you are hindering blood flow and therefore hindering collagen production.
We don’t want to minimise blood flow or circulation in those crucial areas even if wearing a set of hip hugging briefs can make us feel slimmer or more toned in that moment.
Keep this in mind even when it comes to general clothing that may be restrictive or too tight. Those flattering jeans of yours may not be as flattering for your behind and thighs as you think!
Another common myth and marketing gimmick is that of miracle creams. With a quick Google search, you will be inundated with the creams that promise to reduce the appearance of cellulite or even get rid of it completely. Like any beauty product, we can quite often be misled by labels and claims when really the ingredients inside may not offer the right potency or result to impact the issue they claim they’ll fix.
Scientific studies surrounding the use of the topical application of ginkgo, caffeine or retinoids have provided no real evidence of repair or improvement of the actual problem like many of these companies claim. As you can understand, when it comes to the connective tissue beneath your top layer of skin, it is difficult for a cream to penetrate past the skin and repair tone with such significance. There are however some recent studies that suggest certain creams do in fact help to get rid of cellulite effectively.
Finally we come to the most expensive myth when it comes to curing or repairing cellulite… medical procedures. Invasive and expensive methods of repair such as liposuction, subcision and skin filler injections are often a last resort when body confidence is low. Unfortunately these treatments can leave patients in worse shape than before. Complaints range from cellulite remaining visible, to patients suffering from bruising, scarring or skin pigmentation.
In the case of liposuction or subcision, the condition of your skin could be worse off. Endermologie is another common procedure and is the process of pulling small sections of skin into a device to be kneaded in a repetitive motion. It’s much less dramatic and invasive than surgery. The intent; to massage the fat deposits and free them up, eliminating the visible appearance of cellulite. Once again, there is no solid evidence that this process repairs the connective tissue. None of these tactics listed above are actually addressing the connective tissue. This is why they give false hope and worse, they hurt your hip pocket significantly.
Laser treatments such as “Cellulaze” are the newest technology on the cellulite cure or repair market. Laser treatment claims to break up the fat deposits or tissue under your skin, while simultaneously stimulating collagen production. Googling this procedure is quite the adventure; one part optimism, three parts terrifying, with reviews ranging from “awesome” to, “do not do it!”.
This procedure is mildly invasive but is FDA approved when performed by a plastic surgeon. It involves pen-size incisions around the cellulite-effected areas. A small laser is then inserted underneath the skin to break up fat deposits. ‘Cellulaze’ and other laser treatments haven’t been around long enough to accurately assess the long term results.
Registered providers claim it will minimise (not cure) cellulite for up to three years with proper maintenance of your body. Although, it is very difficult to find a qualified, non-biased person stating it is worth the pain and expense or that it will provide long-term results. At $5,000-plus per session and up to eight sessions needed, it is definitely not an option for everyone and you’d hope that such a significant financial outlay would result in a permanent repair.
Overall we are dealing with a frustrating yet common ailment. Can we find company in our fellow-female numbers? Probably not. You are the only one who can permanently boost your self confidence at the end of the day even if the majority of the women in your life have the same complaint. The important thing to remember though, is like with any long term plan to care for ourselves, a balanced diet and an active lifestyle will always win over expensive or magical quick fixes. Our bodies know what they want and need. Not many of us can afford to or could justify shelling out for medical procedures or miracle creams, but hopefully this article has given you the inspiration to listen to your body and care for it naturally. Now go forth and nourish!