I have talked with my clients for years about cellulite. Some will never wear shorts or a bathing suit because of the appearance of the dimpled skin known as cellulite.
Cellulite is almost exclusively a female concern – the anatomy of a woman’s skin is different than a man’s and cellulite is primarily about estrogen. As estrogen is released into a woman’s body, fluid builds up in fatty tissues. And women have more fatty tissue than men – particularly throughout the thighs and hips.
As we talked about fat x cellulite at the last post, we will do a quickly review about it:
What is cellulite?
Cellulite is a condition in which the skin appears to have areas with underlying fat deposits, giving it a dimpled, lumpy appearance. It is most noticeable on the buttocks and thighs, and usually occurs after puberty.
Cellulite is located in the subsurface – or subcutaneous layer of the skin. It is made of up of connective tissue, fat cells known as the septa, excess fluid and toxins. Cellulite forms when the structural support of the skin starts to collapse and the fat cells push through it – that’s what causes the ‘dimpled’ look that so many women would like to do away with.
Cellulite is often classified using three grades:
- Grade 1 cellulite sees no clinical symptoms, but a microscopic examination of cells from the area detects underlying anatomical changes.
- Grade 2 cellulite requires the skin to show pallor (pastiness), be lower temperature, and have decreased elasticity, in addition to anatomical changes noted by microscopic examinations.
- Grade 3 cellulite has visible roughness of the skin (like an orange peel) along with all grade 2 signs.
NB: Cellulite is not related to the condition known as cellulitis, which is a spreading bacterial infection or inflammation of the skin and tissues beneath the skin.
Like most things in life, there isn’t a quick fix for erasing cellulite. Let’s take a look at how cellulite forms and what you can do to help your body run efficiently to help alleviate what’s causing cellulite to form and stay.
What happen into our body to form cellulite?
Our lymphatic system plays a critical role in the development of cellulite. The septa becomes stiff because of decreased lymph and blood circulation to the subcutaneous layer of skin. The tissue weakens and the decrease in lymph drainage causes the fluids which should carry away waste to be trapped, the septa then becomes fibrous and tightens even more on the underlying fat cells. The decreased circulation also weakens capillaries and veins, causing the surrounding tissue to harden. Blood reroutes around the cellulite area and the septa fibres continue to thicken and even more fat continues to be deposited. The fats and toxins won’t be removed because of the poor circulation.
You can see that a healthy lymph system is critical to stopping the formation and breaking the cellulite building cycle.
Our sweat glands, kidneys, liver and lymph system are all critical to ridding our bodies of toxins. Toxic build-up is the primary cause of the stagnant lymph, which is at the crux of cellulite. When your body is overburdened with chemicals, additives, and other toxins, these organs are unable to keep up. If you think about these organs as screens or filters, it makes sense that they would need to be cleaned regularly in order to work efficiently. I recommend that my patients ‘detox’ two to three times a year – this process allows these organs to clean up and jump start to keep you healthy!
Well balanced hormones also play a role in healthy skin. During periods of great hormonal fluctuation life pregnancy or perimenopause women may experience an increase in cellulite. We’ve known for many years that estrogen plays a role in keeping skin elastic and firm, due to the role it plays in increasing the formation of collagen. When your hormones are not balanced, the walls of your veins and lymph vessels are less resilient – and they are not as efficient in removing toxins. This weakness also causes lymph flow and blood to stagnate which contributes to the stiffening of the septa.
Your body’s systems are all connected, and the cellulite you see is a symptom of something going on in your body. It’s important to clear your body of toxins regularly, feed your body what it needs and be aware of ways to keep your hormones balanced.
So, what causes cellulite?
The causes of cellulite are not well understood, but there are several theories that have been put forth as explanations.
- As I already said, hormonal factors play an important part in what causes cellulite development. Researchers believed that estrogen, insulin, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones, and prolactin are part of the cellulite development process.
- Genetics are also required for cellulite development as genes may predispose an individual to particular characteristics associated with cellulite such as gender, race, slow metabolism, distribution of fat underneath the skin, and circulatory insufficiency.
- Diet is also a contributing factor since people who eat too much fat, carbohydrate, or salt, and too little fibre have greater amounts of cellulite, as well as lifestyle factors, since cellulite is more prevalent on smokers.
- Tight-fitting clothing such as underwear with tight elastic across the buttocks tends to limit blood flow and contribute to the formation of cellulite.
- Aging is also considered as one of the theories on what causes cellulite because as the subcutaneous layer becomes thinner and the skin layers are redistributed, this can result in unflattering cellulite promotion.
- Other theories on what causes cellulite development involves not drinking enough water (dehydration), poor diet and crash diets, smoking, medication and sedentary lifestyle. Cellulite is a mixture of fat, water and toxic wastes that the body fails to eliminate, so drinking plenty of water can help diminish cellulite.
- Smoking also promotes cellulite because it damages the connective tissues in your body. Toxins from poor diet are trapped in the fatty tissue causing cellulite, while crash diets increase the risk for cellulite because the body thinks it is starving.
- To answer ‘what are the causes of cellulite development,’ many people would agree that a sedentary lifestyle that lacks exercise and diet pills, sleeping pills, and diuretics can all lead to cellulite development.
Which are some treatments for cellulite?
Much has been written about cellulite, and many treatments have been promoted, ranging from dietary changes to cellulite creams and mechanical treatments. Some of these therapies include:
Methylxanthines: Methylxanthines are a group of chemicals that include aminophylline, caffeine and theophyilline. These chemicals are present in many cellulite creams.
Cellulite diets: Special diets have been proposed that claim to be effective in treating cellulite. Proponents of these diets claim that the combination of foods in the diet can reduce inflammation and improve circulation in affected areas and diminish cellulite.
Dietary supplements: A second class of cellulite removal strategies consists of drugs that are supposed to act on fatty tissues. There is a wide range of pharmacological agents which are used for getting rid of cellulite, including:
- methylxanthines (caffeine and theobromine)
- beta-agonists and adrenaline
- amino acids
- ginkgo biloba
- Indian chestnut
But some dietary supplements may also pose health risks or may interact with certain prescription drugs. For example, the formulation known as Cellasene contains iodine, which many doctors warn may be harmful for those with thyroid and other conditions.
Mechanical therapeutic methods:
- pneumatic massages
- heat therapy
- radio frequency therapy
- magnetic therapy
- radial waves therapy
- electrical stimulation
- laser and light therapy
Several machines have been introduced to treat the areas affected by cellulite. Some examples are Endermologie, TriActive or VelaSmooth (we will talk about them soon). A temporary decrease in the appearance of cellulite may occur. The technique appears to redistribute fat rather than permanently alter its configuration under the skin. Regular maintenance treatments are required after the initial effect has been achieved or the cellulite will return.
Special clothing: Some people with cellulite wear special clothing called compression garments to reduce the appearance of cellulite. These garments try to compress arteries and increase blood and lymph flow to reduce visual cellulite.
Mesotherapy: is a controversial treatment for cellulite that involves injecting drugs or other substances directly into affected tissue. Herbs and vitamins are often used as well in the injection cocktails. Many injections over multiple (typically 10 or more) sessions are administered. Although this procedure is offered by some physicians, most experts feel that this treatment is unproven and risky. A 2005 report in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy stated that: “Patients considering mesotherapy for cellulite must be aware that the substances currently being injected to treat this cosmetically disturbing, but medically benign, condition have not been thoroughly evaluated for safety or efficacy.”
Collagenase: Collagenase is a naturally-occurring enzyme in the body that breaks down collagen, a component of connective tissue (the tissues that bind our cells together). A small study of 10 women with cellulite conducted in 2006 suggested that injections with this enzyme may be beneficial in improving the appearance of cellulite. The long-term effects of these injections are still unknown, and studies have not yet been carried out to determine the extent and duration of the improvements, if any. The treatment is considered experimental and is not yet routinely available, but research is underway to determine if collagenase injections may become an option for the treatment of cellulite.
Wraps: Wraps may decrease fluid retention and improve the overall appearance of skin, these effects are temporary, and so you need to detoxify your body at least once each three months. – We will talk about wraps soon.
Manual massages: Lymph massage is said to draw out interstitial fluid within the body and keep it moving regularly. This fluid can carry toxins that cause fluid buildup or water retention, and getting these toxins out makes it easier for the body to dispose of them. Due to the movement a lymph massage entails, fat and fluid no longer stay trapped underneath the skin. This breaks up cellulite, leading to an improvement in your skin’s appearance and helping your skin return to a smooth state as the fat and water redistribute within the body.
How about liposuction?
A surgical procedure to remove fat deposits from the body, liposuction is designed to remove deep fat, not cellulite, which is just beneath the skin. There is debate over its effectiveness, and some plastic surgeons warn that liposuction may actually make the appearance of cellulite worse by creating more depressions in the skin.
What can I do to prevent and improve the appearance of cellulite?
Here’s what I have recommended to my clients:
- Eating healthy, low fat foods such as fruits, vegetables, and fiber can help one to avoid cellulite. Be aware of toxins and limit your exposure. Preservatives, chemicals, additives, alcohol and caffeine all test your lymph system. Eliminate sugar completely from your diet. Sugar interferes with Vitamin C metabolism and vitamin C is critical to the formation of elastin and collagen.
- Consider a high quality multivitamin. It is difficult to get the nutrients we need from the foods we eat. Farming and processing practices have reduced the nutritional values of our foods. A daily multivitamin is an easy way to close the gap between what we our body needs and what we are able to take in on a daily basis.
- There are many detox food plans available. I often recommend a two week detox plan – some women find it challenging, but most report feeling fantastic once they’ve completed it.
Once again, here are some professionists that I recommend (Click on to open the link):
German Canton – Switzerland
London – UK
Milan – Italy
- Exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing stress are recommended to prevent cellulite. Experts agree that the most effective exercise routine for cellulite is one that incorporates aerobic exercise and strength training.
German Canton – Switzerland
Dublin – Ireland
Alex Le Moss in Crunch Fitness
Milan – Italy
Rio de Janeiro: Chloe TheRed
Special for pregnant and after pregnancy: Fabi Gomes
- Practice lymphatic massage weekly. This will help drain and increase your lymphatic fluid, remove toxins from your body and promote well being.
- Manage your stress. When our bodies are stressed, blood is directed away from the skin, affecting circulation and decreasing the nutrients being delivered to our skin. Increased cortisol tells the body to store fat which contributes to cellulite.
- Gently massage and use body brush – massage the area in a circular motion. This will help to increase blood flow to the area and eliminate toxins.
- Cold and warm water: Simple tip to improve your blood circulation and help to improve the appearance of cellulite.
- Tanning: Although you can’t change the thickness of your skin – a factor in cellulite – it could help to change the colour. Cellulite tends to show up less on darker skin. If you plan to be out in a bathing suit or short shorts, applying a self-tan lotion may make the bumps and dimples on your thighs less noticeable.
Many women feel that cellulite is their destiny – they may have family members with cellulite or have been told that cellulite is just to be accepted. By raising your awareness of the process that contributes toward cellulite development and supporting your all-important lymph system, you may find the combination which helps you diminish or alleviate cellulite.
I hope all this information are useful to you and remember that I’m available for any question. See you at the next post!