Cellulite can be defined as a medical disorder observed as microscopic changes within the skin. These invisible changes manifest later after puberty as dimples. Cellulite is caused by skin that has deteriorated to a point that buoyant fat cells are able to push into the dermis, the middle layer of the skin, and show through the surface as unsightly lumps and bumps.
One plausible explanation – which also explains why very few men suffer from cellulite – is based on the composition and behaviour of women’s fat cells and the connective tissue that holds them in place. Very simply, a woman’s connective tissue is very inflexible, so as females gain weight their fat cells expand, and tend to bulge upwards towards the surface of the skin, giving the classic orange-peel appearance of cellulite. The causes of cellulite are poorly understood, and several changes in metabolism or physiology may cause cellulite or contribute to cellulite. Common triggers for cellulite are:
- Hormones play a dominant role in the formation of cellulite. Oestrogen is the most important hormone as it seems to initiate and aggravate cellulite. Other hormones including insulin, adrenaline, noradrenaline, thyroid hormone and prolactin have all been shown to participate in the development of cellulite.
- Poor circulation or impaired blood circulation and lymphatic drainage have been shown to aggravate the production of cellulite.
- Diet has been shown to affect the development and amount of cellulite. Excessive amounts of fat, carbohydrates, salt, or too little fibre can all contribute to an increased production of cellulite.
- Smoking, lack of exercise, fatty/starchy foods, and sitting or standing in a single position for long periods have all been correlated with an increase in cellulite.
- A highly stressed lifestyle will cause an increase in the catecholamine hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline which have been shown to participate in the development of cellulite.
- Within the last 40-50 years women went from loose underwear around the thighs to tight underwear going across the middle of the buttock. Underwear that has tight elastic across the buttock limits blood flow, encouraging cellulite to form. Wearing thongs, boy shorts, or sleeping naked can reduce the impact underwear plays on cellulite’s development.