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Cellulite is normal fat tissue pushing against connective tissue, causing the adjacent skin to pucker and appear dimpled.
In the medical field it is known as adiposis edematosa, dermopanniculosis deformans, status protrusus cutis, and gynoid lipodystrophy. Colloquially, it is called a variety of names such as, cottage cheese skin, orange peel syndrome, hail damage, and the mattress phenomenon, in reference to its appearance.
Cellulite can be classified based on grades:
Grade 1: no clinical symptoms, but there are anatomical changes to cells in the affected area.
Grade 2: the affected area shows pallor, has decreased elasticity and lower temperature, in addition to anatomical changes to the cells in the affected area.
Grade 3: in addition to signs seen in grade 2, there is visible and obvious roughness of the affected skin (similar to the appearance of an orange peel).
Cellulite is extremely common and is estimated to affect up to 90% of women. While it can also affect men, women are more likely to have a specific type of fat and connective tissue that causes cellulite.
Diet: a diet that consists of high fat, carbohydrates or salt and low in fibre.
Lifestyle: it is more prevalent in smokers, sedentary individuals, particularly those who endure long periods of standing or sitting.
Hormones: oestrogen, insulin, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones, prolactin all play an important role in cellulite production.
Genetics: genes may predispose certain characteristics that make cellulite development more likely, such as gender, metabolism, insufficient or ineffective circulation, or fat and connective tissue distribution.
There is a myriad of products and treatments available to treat cellulite:
Creams: claims to dissolve fat and smooth the skin to reduce the appearance of cellulite. However, product efficacy, price and quality varies widely. There have been claims that they may be harmful for some people as the active ingredient causes the narrowing of blood vessels, forcing water out in an effort to reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Liposuction: a surgical procedure to remove the fat deposits, however it does not specifically remove the fat cells that is causing cellulite. There is also the possibility that it can make the appearance of cellulite worse in some cases as removing deeper fat cells may cause more puckering of the skin.
Mesotherapy: involves the injecting of substances such as vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids just below the surface of the skin to treat different skin conditions. There is some evidence to suggest that it breaks down fat and improves the appearance of cellulite. The associated risks include swelling, infection and irregular contours of the treatment area.
Massage: offers a temporary solution to the appearance of cellulite, it is likely due to the removal of fluid in the affected area. Massage does not remove any cellulite.
Laser treatment: breaks up fibrous tissue to improve the appearance of cellulite and stimulate collagen production in the affected area. the skin, and stimulate collagen production.