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What Is Cellulite?

Updated on July 16, 2009

I can still remember being a little girl and hearing my aunt and mother discussing cellulite. My aunt was a bit plump and my mother quite the opposite, and yet both of them were familiar with cellulite. When I said that I’d thought cellulite was something only obese women experienced, they were quick to point out that anyone could get it, regardless of their physical shape or condition. Wiping my brow, I promptly retorted that I didn’t have it, so there. They both replied, almost immediately, “Just wait till you’re older.” I spent the next 20 years worrying about which age might be old enough for cellulite to show up before finally realizing that I was one of the fortunate women who didn’t have it. That said, when I start putting on weight it goes right to my thighs and I do develop a skin unevenness which gives the appearance of dimples when sitting down – not good. If you want to get rid of cellulite (or better yet, prevent it altogether) you must first understand what it is. 

Who gets cellulite?

The structure of female connective tissue has quite a lot to do with cellulite , which is why guys don’t often wind up with cottage cheese beer bellies, as theirs usually has a different underlying shape. Also, some women are more prone to developing cellulite than others, so you can thank your genetics (and your mum) for those dimples on your butt. Contrary to popular belief, this is not indicative of obesity, and many skinny women have cottage cheese on the backs of their thighs, I promise you.

What causes cellulite?

Look at your skin. Now imagine the muscles beneath your skin. Now imagine a layer of connective tissue bands situated between your skin and those muscles, which surround little pockets of perfectly good fat. That fat is, essentially, held down by those bands, whilst giving a nice smooth shape to your skin. Over time, however, those bands will get tighter, which will result in their pulling downward (toward the muscle) a good deal more. When this happens, it will create deepening lines in the fat, which will cause a bumpy cellulite appearance. (If you still cant imagine it, picture a plate of Jello: take a piece of string and create a dent in the Jello without actually cutting it. Then stick a tissue over the entire thing. What do you see? Bumpy Jello. That’s pretty much what’s going on under your skin.) As you age, the tightening process accelerates. Add to this the issue of growing fat cells and you can see how cellulite can start to get out of hand.

Can it be cured?

There are many cellulite creams which claim to get rid of cellulite and many surgical procedures which claim the same thing. Whether or not they work it still a matter of debate in some cases. You can, however, usually reduce or control cellulite through dietary changes and exercise. Obviously, the sooner you start, the better; prevention of cellulite is certainly going to be easier than getting rid of it altogether.


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    • profile image

      Madge UKMadge UK 6 years ago

      A friend recommended that I try this Dr Max Powers brand Stretch Mark Treatment for my cellulite! I've heard of Dr. Max Powers brand, but I didnt know it was for ladies as well!!

      Her friend was using it and was pleased with the results. I bought online - that was 3 months ago and 3 jars ago - and I will continue to use this product - I have seen results - it is not a miracle cream - you are not going to instantly have baby behind smooth skin BUT it does help.

      I am a mom of 3 and have a bunch of cellulite - that I hate and makes me feel very self-conscious - THIS product gives me hope (along with exercise of course) but I have seen it working over time. I don't think I will give it up anytime soon :) it's a "for me" product that I don't mind splurging on -

      I use it right after the shower as I'm getting ready every day!

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 8 years ago

      If someone has extra bloating in those fatty deposit areas due to a less than perfect lymphatic system, I would imagine a few of those creams would get better results. Thanks for the comments!

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      I think I read somewhere recently that it also has something to do with your lymphatic system. And that jumping up and down on those mini trampolines is good for cellulite.

      You're right. There are obese women who don't have cellulite and thin, otherwise in shape women who have the old saddlebag thighs. I remember my high school dance teacher was like that -- tiny, lithe, toned, but under her leotard and tights -- lumpy.

    • Kushal Poddar profile image

      Kushal Poddar 8 years ago from Kolkata,India