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What is cellulite and can you get rid of it?

If you’re self-conscience about the dimpled skin on your stomach, buttocks, thighs or hips, you’re not alone. Nearly 80 percent of all women will have to deal with cellulite at some point in their lives. As unsightly as cellulite may appear, there are ways you can deal with current cellulite problems and help prevent future issues.

Found most commonly in areas of the body where fat is naturally stored, cellulite appears when the collagen that binds fat to the skin stretch and tear creating small pockets which then appear as bumps and dimples under the skin. Since fat storage is a personal matter — where your body decides to store excess fat is genetic — the appearance of cellulite shows up on different people in different places.

While cellulite affects both sexes, only 10 percent of men develop cellulite. Doctors say the condition is more commonly see on women because women have the connective tissue and naturally carry more of the fat type that can created that textured skin effect.

The severity of cellulite varies in each person, some experiencing a mild lumpy texture detectable only when the skin is pinched, while others suffer extremely textured skin. Although more commonly found on the buttocks, stomach, hips and thighs, cellulite is also found on the breasts and upper arms.

What causes cellulite?

When the fibrous connective cords that binds fat under the skin stretch and tear, the result is an uneven surface. As your body accumulates more fat, the fat cells push upwards against the skin, while the connective cords pull downwards, creating a dimpling effect on the skin’s surface.

Some people believe that cellulite is caused by a toxin buildup in the body, which is untrue. As the connective tissue becomes weakened, cellulite is the adverse affect from things such as lack of exercise, poor circulation, too much body fat and even hormones, but it has nothing to do with toxin buildup and is not considered a medical condition that requires treatment.

Contributing factors

Lifestyle plays an important role in the development of cellulite. People who smoke, eat a lot of fatty or salty foods, have a high carbohydrate diet, shun healthy fiber foods, as well as those who do not exercise, are more prone to developing cellulite.

Genetics can also set people up to be predisposed to eventually developing cellulite, which when genetically influenced, normally occurs in those over the age of 60 as the skin naturally loses some of its elasticity and becomes unevenly textured. Other factors such as a slow metabolism, gender and race (the thickness and color of the skin), can also be influences.

Cellulite treatment

Female consumers are inundated with cellulite removal products, at-home hand-held devices and medical options. While there are a host of cellulite treatments available, massages, creams, lasers, liposuction and injections, Mayo Clinic lists several cellulite treatment options and their level of effectiveness:

Topical remedies: There has been some evidence to show that using 0.3 percent retinal cream for six months can improve the appearance of cellulite, but keep in mind that retinal is known to improve skin elasticity. It will not do anything to rid your body of the cellulite (fat) or strengthen the necessary muscles. Once you stop using the product, your results will also fade away.

Cellulite cream: Some cellulite creams consist of a variety of herbal extracts, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that promise cellulite cures, while most creams contain a drug called aminophyllin, a prescription medication used for treating asthma. There are no research studies to show that any of these cellulite creams offer any improvement to the appearance of cellulite.

Liposuction: A commonly sought cellulite treatment, liposuction sucks out the deep fat cells, but not the cellulite causing fat cells from under the skin. Unfortunately, although this procedure is able to shape the body, liposuction does not remove cellulite. As a matter of fact, it may even make the cellulite appearance worse by adding dimpling to the skin. Newer laser-assisted versions of liposuction, which are less invasive, seem able to destroy the targeted fat cells while tightening the skin. This could prove to be a more effective cellulite treatment.

Lasers: Using infrared light, negative tissue massage and radio frequency methods have shown some improvement in treating cellulite after a series of treatments, with results lasting up to six months.

Mesotherapy: A procedure where a solution of enzymes, aminophyllines, vitamins, herbal extracts, hormones and/or minerals is placed under the skin. Originally developed in Europe to relieve inflammatory skin condition pain, mesotherapy often causes side effects that include rashes, swelling, infections and an uneven or bumpy skin contour.

According the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there are no completely successful treatments for cellulite as treatment options are no more than temporarily or mildly effective and lack substantial proof of efficiency. Doctors agree that while there is no cure for cellulite, the most effective cellulite treatment is exercise and weight loss. Through regular exercise, and of course a healthy diet, you can burn away that unwanted body fat that you see layered under your skin, while at the same time tightening those weak muscles in your buttocks, legs and thighs.