Cellulite Explained And How To Manage It

The word ‘cellulite’ is something of a taboo in our society. We don’t like talking about it and a lot of us are ashamed to say we have it. But, with cellulite affecting between 80%-90% of women over 30, why is such a common cosmetic condition so undiscussed? Cellulite manifests as dimple-like bumps on your skin that is sometimes described as an ‘orange-peel’ texture. Although the condition can affect both men and women, it is more common in females due to the structure of the skin. There are many misconceptions about cellulite, including the fact that it has nothing to do with your weight. Hormones, genetics, diet and a lack of exercise can contribute to the condition and it can affect pretty much everyone. So, don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed! From how to avoid it to how to treat it, we’ve spoken to the experts to get everything you’ve asked, answered.

To start, what actually is cellulite?
In order to figure out what cellulite does, we need to know what it is. Kanta Jethwani, CEO of Bloom Aesthetic and Laser Clinic said, “Cellulite is enlarged fat cells or body fat layer that sits under the skin, causing bumpy appearance on the overlying skin. Under your skin, there’s a network of connective-tissue strands, called septae, that hold the fat in place. If the septae aren’t strong and tightly woven together (which may be determined by genetics), the fat can bulge out between them, creating ripples on the skin’s surface-cellulite, hence the ‘cottage cheese’ or ‘orange-peel’ appearance.

This type of fat is trapped in between areas where there is a high amount of fat to muscle, like buttocks, hips and thighs. But can in fact form anywhere where excess fatty tissue accumulates.”

Who is most likely to get cellulite?
Some of us are more prone to getting cellulite. With our age, gender and lifestyle in consideration, we’ve got an idea of what makes us more susceptible. Dr. Umesh Nihalani, Specialist Dermatologist at Dubai London Clinic said, “Cellulite occurs mainly in females in post-adolescent age and is mostly distributed on their buttocks, thighs and abdomen. There are morphological differences of the fat lobes between males and females, which explains the large frequency of cellulite in females. Many people confuse cellulite with obesity. However, this is incorrect, in obesity only fat cells are increased in size, whereas in cellulite there are several structural alterations in dermis. Cellulite is thought to be formed from the breakdown of collagen in the reticular dermis, which leads to weakness in the dermis and herniation of subcutaneous fat into the dermis. Congestion of fluid and protein in the dermis is believed to lead to formation of fibrotic bands between the subcutaneous tissue and dermis resulting in retraction, dimpling or nodularity. There are multiple theories claimed for its pathophysiology. Risk factors for developing cellulite include, family history, being overweight/obese, elderly and having excess hormones and/or poor lymphatic drainage. There are three stages of cellulite (Hexsel Classification). Stage 0, where the skin surface is not altered. Stage 1, when the skin is normal, but some cellulite appears when the skin is pinched. Stage 2, where the skin appears dimpled without pinching or manipulation in standing position. Stage 3, where the skin appears both dimpled as in stage 2 along with raised areas and nodules in some areas.”

What is the most important thing about cellulite that people should know?
‘Cellulite’ is not generally a positive word - it tends to come with some negative connotations about weight and health in general. However, Dr. Sabna Mohamed, Specialist Dermatologist Aster Clinic, Qusais said, “There are quite a few misconceptions surrounding cellulite and awareness is important for people to be able to have the condition treated in the best possible way. One of the most important things people need to understand is that cellulite does not only occur to people who have some extra body weight. It could happen to anybody even somebody who is lean, although it does become more noticeable if you are overweight. Another common misconception people have is that self-medicating with the use of skin tightening and firming creams will help treating cellulite. This is definitely not true because no cream has shown to have permanent effects of cellulite. Consult with a Dermatologist and understand what can be done to manage the condition.”

How can you avoid getting cellulite?
There are some things that you can do to avoid getting cellulite. Dr. Fady Haddad, Specialist Dermatologist at SHAMMA Clinic said, “Maintaining a healthy diet, dry-brushing skin, steering clear from substances such as alcohol, smoking, etc., leads to less cellulite. Poor circulation, hence weaker oxygen supply, can contribute to cellulite by reducing collagen production. Factors such as smoking, tight fitting underwear, hormonal influences and lack of physical activities play a major role in this aforementioned damage. However, cellulite can also be a genetically susceptible condition.”

Treating cellulite
Although there isn’t a ‘fix-all’ treatment, there are some options that you can take to improve the appearance of cellulite. Kanta Jethwani has shared her top treatments, both at home and in the clinic, that can help to treat cellulite.

Coffee wrap: It can be used on the skin where its penetration can boost natural collagen and elastin production. This, in turn, reduces cellulite appearance.
Acoustic wave therapy: Shock waves with low energy are sent through tissue to reduce retention of fluids and breaking down the solid fat molecules.
Radiofrequency treatment: Skin heating using radio waves reportedly improves production of collagen and reduction in cellulite appearance.
Laser therapy: Can either be used on the skin or conduct an intrusive procedure underneath the skin. Research on non-invasive approach has not been productive and the invasive one has shown better results that have lasted up to six months.
Subcision: An approved method that involves minor surgery to reduce scars and wrinkles appearing on your body through fibrotic strands break down. The results go for up to two years.
Mesotherapy: Involves subjection of drugs into the tissue directly that are not meant for cellulite curbing but are used to treat other conditions. You need more than ten sessions for it to produce results.

Some natural treatments to try at home are:
Brushing dry skin: Dry brushing your skin can help liquefy the solid fat deposits and facilitate an even distribution. So the cellulite may diminish or have a vague appearance.
Massages: Applying gentle pressure slowly over the focus area will help the connective tissues and fascia to lengthen.
Hydrate: Water is essential to life and it is also essential to reducing and preventing further cellulite. Herbal tea is also great.
Healthy diet: High insulin levels increase fat production in your body. As earlier mentioned, cellulite comes from an increase in the size of fat cells and more insulin is produced if the sugar intake is high. One of the effective ways towards body weight maintenance and reducing cellulite occurrence is having a diet with low carbohydrates and rich in healthy fats.

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