What Are The Main Cellulite Causes?

 What Are The Main Cellulite Causes?

Cellulite causes

Cellulite is one of the biggest appearance-based problems for men and women.

Although it is entirely possible for men as well as women to suffer from the problem, it’s far more likely to affect women.

Whilst not dangerous to health, cellulite can diminish a person’s self-esteem the point where they avoid wearing clothes which may show of the area affected.

Not a positive way to live life!

For this reason, finding out what the main cellulite causes are and trying to work to eradicate or minimise them, may be a way to do the same to the cellulite already there.

There are many different treatment options for cellulite on the market, and whilst evidence to suggest effectiveness isn’t overwhelming, there are some suggestions that many could affect the severity of cellulite to a degree.

First things first, let’s expose exactly what cellulite is, and then get onto the main cellulite causes and how to try and reduce your own risk factors.

What is Cellulite?

Studies have shown that cellulite is a skin condition, which isn’t harmful to health and will not cause any adverse effects to the functioning of the body in any way.

As we just mentioned however, it can become an appearance issue for many men and women (women especially) and can affect self-confidence and body image.

Skin affected by cellulite is characterised by a dimpled appearance, often lumpy.

This can appear anywhere on the body, but is predominently seen on the buttocks, upper thighs, and abdomen in particular.

Anyone can develop cellulite, whether overweight, underweight, average weight, and any age, although there are certain risk factors for development, which we will discuss in more detail a little later on.

For now however, let’s mention that between 80-90% of women will experience cellulite at some point in their lives, providing just how prevalent the problem is.

You will probably have heard cellulite called ‘orange peel’, ‘mattress skin’, or ‘cottage cheese’, and that is entirely down to the way it looks.

This is caused by pockets of fat forming underneath the superficial layers of the skin.

These pockets of fat accumulate and push upwards, leaning against the connective tissues underneath the skin, which appear as the next layer over the fat.

The more pressure the fat accumulation puts on the connective tissue, the more chance it has of protruding upwards, therefore causing the lumpy and dimpled appearance that cellulite is so famous for.

Again, we should point out that this is not harmful to health in any way.

In terms of grading the severity of cellulite, usually, when it comes to visiting a health clinic for various types of eradication or minimisation treatment, there are three main levels.

Grade 1

Mild cellulite.

In this case there are likely to be between 1-4 dimples to the skin, and it might be a little saggy.

Mild cellulite has the ‘orange peel’ effect.

Grade 2

Moderate cellulite.

Moderate cellulite is evident with 5-9 dimples and a ‘cottage cheese’ look to the skin.

Grade 3

Severe cellulite.

This type of cellulite is characterised by 10 or more dimples in the skin and a very noticeable draping.

This is the type of cellulite which is commonly referred to as ‘mattress’.

We could point out that this grading system isn’t medically approved and is used by therapists when determining the severity of cellulite and how to go about attempting to reduce it.

Why is Cellulite More Likely in Women?

We mentioned that women are more likely than men to develop cellulite, although men don’t get away with it entirely.

The reason for this higher percentage is due to the fact that women have a different distribution of connective tissue and fat.

In women, this is in a vertical pattern, so when the fat pushes upwards, it’s far easier for this to be visible through the top layer of the skin.

On the other hand, men have a criss cross distribution of connective tissue, which creates a more difficult picture.

Whilst it’s not impossible for men to get cellulite, it’s less common than in women for this reason.

What Are The Main Cellulite Causes?

First, the bad news.

Nobody is 100% sure what causes cellulite, but there are several risk factors which are thought to be associated with its development.

We know that cellulite is a pushing upwards of fat accumulation through the connective tissue, but a medical reason for this happening is still not forthcoming.

Other cellulite causes include:

  • Hormones
  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Diet
  • Lifestyle


The hormonal issue is also thought to be a reason why more women are prone to cellulite than men.

This is often down to hormonal imbalances, which are more likely to occur in women as part of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breast feeding, and possibly the onset of menopause, during the peri-menopausal period.

Women have a large dose of oestrogen running around their body at any one time, and this fluctuates during certain times also.

This fluctuation may have something to do with the development of cellulite causes that nobody is 100% sure about.

Studies have shown that cellulite is likely during the menopausal period, as oestrogen diminishes, causing a lesser blood flow to the connective tissues, and therefore weakening them.

Weaker connective tissues are prone to the pushing up towards of fat deposits and therefore it stands to reason that cellulite during this time of life is far more likely as a result.

The aging process could also have something to do with why cellulite is more likely at certain times.


As age ticks on, collagen production reduces.

Collagen gives your skin and underlying layers of the skin elasticity and strength.

When this is in lower amounts, again, the connective tissues do not have the strength to hold back any pushing of fat deposits against it.

This is once more even more likely in women because of the vertical pattern of connective tissue, rather than the stronger criss cross pattern seen in men.

Skin is also less elastic in general as age progresses, as well as thinner and more prone to sagging.

This is another possible option for cellulite causes.

Whilst there is nothing you can do about hormones diminishing as age progresses, you can ensure that you work to correct any hormonal imbalances by checking in with your doctor if you feel this might be an issue for you.

Most women know when something isn’t quite right, or they feel a little ‘different’, and this is usually down to a hormonal issue.

By getting things checked out if you feel this way, your doctor can identify any imbalances and a plan can be put into place to rectify it.

In addition, as menopause becomes more likely, ensuring that your oestrogen levels don’t fall too low, too quickly, by checking in with your doctor once more, could be an option to help reduce cellulite formation.

Exercise may help to keep skin stronger and more elastic as age ticks on, and this is certainly something which will do you no harm, as it is packed with other health-related benefits too.


We also mentioned genetics.

There is nothing you can do about whether you have a predisposed to cellulite or not, and again, there is no firm study into whether or not genetics really do play a part.

Your genes predetermine things like your metabolism, i.e. the speed at which you burn food for energy, the way your fat cells are distributed underneath the surface of the skin, and the type of circulation rate you have.

Again, you can’t alter these, so if there does prove to be a genetic link towards cellulite, it might be something you need to simply be aware of and manage, rather than look to reduce your risk factor for.

Diet and Lifestyle

That leaves us with diet and lifestyle.

This is something you can do a lot about!

One of the biggest cellulite causes is thought to be a general lifestyle and diet.

Studies have shown that weight loss may help to reduce cellulite, but this is by no means a given.

How to Change Your Lifestyle And Diet To Lower Your Risk Factors

If you already have cellulite, you can work to reduce its appearance, but in terms of whether lifestyle changes and dietary changes alone will get rid of it at this point, it’s unlikely.

In this case, you would need to look towards treatments such as lasers, in order to get rid of the cellulite you have and then work towards changing your lifestyle to avoid it happening again.

Cellulite isn’t caused by any ingredients in foods or toxins, it is caused by fat accumulation.

From that you would think that if you’re overweight, you’re quite certain to get cellulite, and if you’re regular or average weight, you’re less likely.

Well, it doesn’t really work that way, which adds to the confusion around what the main cellulite causes are!

Anyone can get cellulite, but it’s true that those who are overweight are more likely, especially if you combine other risk factors such as smoking, perhaps hormonal imbalances, and progressing age.

That in itself is a recipe for cellulite.

Changing your diet to a healthy option, filled with vitamins, minerals, fresh fruits and vegetables, and cutting down high fat foods and excessive sugar, may help to reduce cellulite, but it will also do you the world of good in terms of your general health and wellbeing.

It is thought that people who eat diets which are higher in carbs and fats, and those who also eat a lot of salt and not much in the way of fiber are certainly more likely to get cellulite formation at some point, mainly because that is the epitome of an unhealthy diet.

Studies have also suggested that smokers are a higher risk of developing cellulite, as well as those who live sedentary lifestyles, e.g. those who sit for long periods of time.

If you work in an office and you have no choice but to sit at your desk for a set number of hours a day, it’s a good idea to ensure you get up and move around as much as possible, try and do some desk exercises whilst you’re sitting, and certainly make the most of your down time, by incorporating exercise on a regular basis.

again, making sure you’re not smoking and that you’re eating a healthy diet, as well as drinking plenty of water, should also help you out.

It might also be about what you wear.

It is thought that wearing underwear which is quite tight around the buttocks might impair blood flow, and therefore mean you have a higher chance of developing cellulite.

In that case, make sure that your underwear isn’t cutting into your skin and that it is only as tight as it really needs to be!

Summing up

If you already have cellulite, and many people do, then remember that it is not going to harm your health.

The only reason you should consider doing something to reduce the appearance of your cellulite is if it is causing you harm in terms of your confidence.

Nobody should feel they have to avoid the beach or pool because of cellulite.

In that case, there are many options you can look into, including Retinol products (never use during pregnancy) and laser-based treatments.

Living a healthier life in general can help to reduce your risk factors and if you are overweight, looking to bring your weight down to a healthier level may also give you a greater chance of reducing the cellulite you have, and certainly avoiding developing more in the future.

Cellulite is far more likely to occur after around 25 years of age, but that’s not to say that teenagers can’t develop it too.

It seems that this is a condition that nobody is really 100% sure about, but we do know that it’s upsetting for many people who have it.

Read more about Cellulite



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Marta Leszko, 2014. Cellulite in menopausehttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4520379/

AV, Rawlings, 2006. Cellulite and its treatmenthttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18489274

Kamila T, Sławomir T, Anna W, Anna S, Jarosław B, 2018. Cellulite: a cosmetic or systemic issue? Contemporary views on the etiopathogenesis of cellulitehttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6232550/

Peter Crosta, 2017. Everything you need to know about cellulite. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/149465.php

Mayo Clinic, 2018. Cellulitehttps://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cellulite/symptoms-causes/syc-20354945

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