What causes cellulite?

Tabloid magazines love to show “shocking” photos of supermodels and celebrities with cellulite showing, as if cellulite is some ashaming indictation they’re overweight.  Well guess what? Cellulite is actually completely normal, and is not a sign of being overweight. Babies have cellulite! (although I fully admit those dimples are much more adorable on my 1 year old son’s thighs than on mine). So what causes cellulite?

Strands of connective tissue called septae tether the skin to the deeper layers of tissue. Fat pushes up between these septae, similar to stuffing pushing up against the buttons on an upholstered chair. Compare the two images below to see what I mean.

www.potterybarn.com

www.potterybarn.com

cellulite

Now that you understand what causes cellulite, we’ll explain which treatments work. Cellulite may be more severe if you are overweight, so losing weight may help improve the appearance of cellulite. But no skin creams or non-invasive treatments have been shown to permanently improve the appearance of cellulite. Liposuction doesn’t necessarily improve cellulite, and can actually make it worse. The most effective treatment currently available passes a laser probe through a tiny incision in the skin, then uses the laser to break up the septae. This removes the little indentations where the septae tether the skin, similar to popping the buttons off that tufted chair in the photo. These treatments show some promise, but are not yet widely available.

Do you have any questions about cellulite? We’d love to hear them!

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Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.

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