What is cellulite?
Cellulite refers to fat deposits under the skin that are encased in connective tissue. The fat pushing against the tissue causes dimples in the skin above it, giving areas of cellulite their characteristic “cottage cheese” appearance. Although this condition can affect any area of the body, it is most common in the hips, thighs, buttocks and abdomen. It is more common in women than men, affecting over 85% of all post-pubertal women.1 Although cellulite is not a serious medical condition, it can cause significant psychological distress in both men and women.
The causes of cellulite are not well understood. Theories include genetics, circulatory problems, inflammation, hormonal disturbances, tight clothing and lifestyle factors. And although being overweight is not a prerequisite for cellulite, excess body fat makes cellulite more visible.
1) Fat Loss: Since excess body fat makes cellulite more visible, losing body fat should be the first goal of any overweight person suffering from cellulite. And although weight loss is no guarantee of cellulite cure, it is a must anyway, especially when you consider the other fantastic health benefits of being leaner.
When I weighed 185 pounds, I had significant dimpling in my buttocks and thighs. I weighed 152 pounds at my last bodybuilding competition (I won the Men’s Open Overall), where my glutes were striated and there was not a trace of cellulite. Like most other things related to body shape and weight, there are no quick fixes or easy solutions. Do the work and you will most likely be pleased with the results.
To help, you can address the contributing factors as well, such as poor circulation. Circulation problems have been implicated in cellulite development. Therefore, wearing loose fitting clothing may help, though this has not been proven. Smoking is known to harm circulation, and if you need another reason not to smoke, here it is.
2) Connective Tissue Disruption / Cellulaze: This procedure involves inserting a small lase under the skin and fanning it around break down the connective tissue that encases the fat and causes the dimpling. Cellulaze is an FDA-approved device for treating cellulite and appears to be a good option if its appearance is troublesome after achieving a low body fat percentage.
1) Liposuction: This procedure literally sucks fat out of the body. However, the fat that is removed is deep fat, whereas the fat that contributes to the appearance of cellulite is subcutaneous, or under the skin. As a result, liposuction can often make cellulite worse by creating more depression in the skin. The American Academy of Dermatology warns against the use of liposuction for cellulite treatment.2
2) Infomercial Gimmicks: There are too many with “miracle creams” and potions out there to count, and the only thing they do is lighten the wallet. There is no evidence any of these products work, so stay away from them.
3) Fat Burning Supplements: Agents that enhance fat burning can theoretically reduce the appearance of cellulite by diminishing the fat inside the pockets of connective tissue. These include yohimbine, caffeine and beta-agonists. People take them orally or apply them topically, but there is no literature out there that they work, and fat burners are ineffective unless accompanied by a sound nutrition and exercise plan.
1) Mesotherapy: This treatment involves injecting a combination of medicines directly into the trouble areas and reducing the appearance of cellulite. It supposedly accomplishes this goal by breaking down fat cells, improving circulation and disrupting connective tissue. The common ingredients in mesotherapy solutions have these effects in experimental models, but no peer reviewed studies have looked at whether there is a real-world benefit to the procedure.3 I recommend staying away from mesotherapy until more research has been done to evaluate its safety and effectiveness.
If you are overweight, the first thing you need to do is get your body fat down. There is a good chance it will go away. If it doesn’t, then see a cosmetic dermatologist. Cellulaze appears to be the most effective treatment, though it comes at a high price.