We’ve briefly gone over this question. But not in detail. So here we’re going to have a look at a bit of the science behind it. Unfortunately there’s still quite a bit we don’t know.
It can be very hard to pin down a root cause or one specific trigger behind the problem. So the information listed on this page should just be used as a rough guide. Everyone is unique and your individual situation will most likely make the cause much more complicated.
The smallest genetic element can dictate how easy it is for us to get cellulite. For example how robust is our connective tissue? Or how is our fat deposited around our body? These traits can be passed on. If your ancestors have a certain trait which is susceptible to cellulite, then there’s a good chance you will too.
Cellulite can temporarily worsen during the menstrual cycle because of water retention. Hormones can also contribute to excess calories, which we know makes the appearance of cellulite worse. Other hormones can also contribute towards the damage of connective tissue. Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do to prevent any of these problems.
Stress causes catecholamine, and catecholamine is liked to the development of cellulite. A poor diet full of fatty foods can also contribute to cellulite, and so will not being well hydrated. Stick to a low-calorie diet to reduce total fat and do lots of exercise too. Think about this – when was the last time you saw an Olympic runner with cellulite?
Other Potential Factors
- Smoking can weaken connective tissue.
- Accumulation of toxins.
So the above elements can cause cellulite, but what exactly happens to your skin? What causes the bumps on the skin that we see? To answer this we need to know a little bit about the skin. We have the following layers:
- The epidermis – This is the top protective layer of skin. It’s made of skin cells which shed around once every two weeks.
- The dermis – Is the cushioning layer the next level down. It provides nourishment to the epidermis. It contains fibres of collagen and elastin.
- Subcutaneous tissue – Think of this as the factory that keeps you skin healthy. It houses the veins and transports collagen to the upper layers. It also provides further cushioning and insulation. The fatty tissue is stored around here.
- Connective tissue – Throughout these layers we get connective tissue. It binds together the tissue providing structure and support.
It is these last 2 elements which are the most important in cellulite formation. As we said, the subcutaneous tissue contains fat. This fat is structured into chambers which are separated via the connective tissue. When this fat gets uneven it pushes against the upper layers (the dermis and epidermis) and becomes visible. This essentially is cellulite.
So it’s all about the connective tissue weakening or misshaping and allowing fat to protrude. This explains why it gets a little worse as you get older. Your connective tissue weakens slightly with age. The reason men don’t get cellulite as much is because their skin is thicker, and their connective tissue is more robust. Here is a simplified picture of connective tissue in a woman:
And in a man:
As you can see it looks much more secure on the man. Hopefully you can also see why treatments will only be able to have a temporary effect (possibly apart from laser treatment). There aren’t many treatments available which can restrengthen and straighten the connective tissue.