Cellulite is sometimes viewed as an unscientific term. While there is no official disease called cellulite, the phenomenon it refers to clearly exists. Basically, the term cellulite refers to skin dimpling caused by protrusions of subcutaneous fat into the dermis and other irregularities of the junction between the skin and subcutaneous fat. Other names used synonymously to cellulite include orange peel syndrome, cottage cheese skin, and so forth. According to various estimates, over 80% of adult women have some degree of cellulite. Cellulite is possible but infrequent in men.
Signs and Symptoms: Cellulite is harmless and causes no pain or discomfort. Its main sign is dimpled appearance of the skin.
What causes cellulite?
The direct causes of cellulite appear to include connective tissues abnormalities, impaired microcirculation and, possibly, enlargement of fat cells. However, what leads to these disturbances remains somewhat unclear. Hormonal levels and heredity are believed to play a role. While men with normal male hormone levels rarely develop cellulite, those with abnormally low levels are much more prone to this condition. This points to a role of the hormonal balance between androgens and estrogens.
Some experts theorize that stress and diet have some role but the evidence is lacking.
Cellulite is not related to excess weight. Normal and underweight people develop cellulite as well. Losing weight does not eliminate cellulite although it may reduce its appearance somewhat as it makes fat tissue shrink.
So far, researchers found no clear distinction between normal fat tissue and the one affected by cellulite. In fact, it seems that cellulite may have more to do with changes in the lower levels of the skin and how they anchor fat tissues than with the fat itself. Age-related changes in microcirculation and lymphatic drainage may also be involved.
Treatment: There is no officially proven and approved treatment for cellulite. One of the reasons is that quality research in this area has been scarce. However, a number of empirical treatments claiming to improve cellulite are available on the market.
Next Article: Cellulite myths & misconceptions