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What Causes Cellulite and How Can I Get Rid of It?

Nov 28, 2023
What Causes Cellulite and How Can I Get Rid of It?

Normal subcutaneous fat becomes cellulite when it pushes up against overlying connective tissue and causes your skin to look dimpled. Learn what causes this common female aesthetic concern, and find out how we can help you improve it.

If you’re female, you may think that developing cellulite on your hips, buttocks, or thighs is a foregone conclusion. Why? Following puberty, at least 8 in 10 women get visible cellulite somewhere on their bodies. By comparison, fewer than 1 in 10 men have cellulite.   

Even if you can’t necessarily prevent its appearance, you might be surprised to learn that cellulite doesn’t have to be inevitable: With the right treatment approach, you can improve its dimpled, conspicuous appearance and restore smooth, firm skin in no time flat.  

As skilled aesthetic medicine specialists who offer a full scope of noninvasive body contouring and cellulite reduction services at New York Laser and Skin Clinic in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York, Gina Molinari and our team can help you minimize or even erase areas of puckered skin and dimpled fat. 

 Read on to learn what causes cellulite, and how we can help you improve it — or get rid of it — safely, effectively, and without surgery. 

Cellulite versus “normal” fat

When the average woman considers what kind of fat is least desirable in terms of aesthetics, one answer tends to crop up far more often than any other: cellulite. But this near-universal dislike of cellulite — and its condemnation as the “bad” fat — is a bit off-base. Why? Although it looks distinct, cellulite isn’t really all that different from “normal” pockets of fat. 

Orange peel texture 

In fact, cellulite is normal subcutaneous (below-the-skin) fat, apart from one key distinction: It pushes up against overlying connective tissues in a way that makes your skin appear puckered, dimpled, or lumpy — drawing frequent comparisons between the texture of an orange peel or cottage cheese.  

Fibrous cord tension

To understand how cellulite develops, it’s helpful to know a bit about the various tissue layers just beneath your skin, and how they’re connected. The most important thing to know is that your connective skin tissue and smooth muscle tissue are tethered tightly together with fibrous cords, and fat deposits accumulate between these two tissue layers. 

Cellulite appears when:

  • Accumulating fat deposits push outward, straining against overlying connective tissues 
  • The fibrous cords attached to the underlying muscle tissue tighten in response
  • Increased fibrous cord tension causes the overlying connective tissue to pull inward  

Essentially, as fat pushes against connective tissue and your muscle-connecting fibrous cords reflexively tighten, the resulting structural dynamic creates noticeable undulations across the surface of your skin. Purely a cosmetic concern, cellulite’s puckered appearance doesn’t affect your health.

Why does cellulite develop?

How cellulite develops isn’t the same as why it emerges. So far, researchers have discovered a few key risk factors associated with its formation; not coincidentally, these factors are either far more common in — or fully exclusive to — females. 

 Factors that leave women more vulnerable to cellulite development include:

Higher estrogen levels 

Experts have linked higher estrogen levels with cellulite formation. How? Estrogen levels tend to be highest exactly when cellulite is most likely to emerge: during puberty and pregnancy.

Natural fat distribution patterns

Women naturally have more fat on the hips, buttocks, thighs, stomach, breasts, and upper arms — all the main body areas where cellulite typically appears.  

Connective tissue structure

Male connective tissue structure is tighter because it’s crisscrossed. In women, however, this tissue layer is made up of parallel fibrous bands. Experts believe that parallel connective tissue bands enable more puckering and dimpling than crisscrossed bands. 

Non-specific risk factors 

Non-gender-specific risk factors that can make the appearance of cellulite more likely include genetic predisposition (family history) and skin tissue that becomes naturally thinner with age. 

Yes, you can improve cellulite

Maintaining a healthy weight and taking care of your skin can improve the appearance of cellulite, but lifestyle strategies don’t always go far enough to minimize unwanted areas of puckering and dimpling. Luckily, our cellulite reduction treatments can help. We offer:  

Noninvasive body contouring 

Noninvasive body contouring technologies use targeted heat or high energy to destabilize unwanted areas of stubborn fat and cellulite, allowing you to safely slim, sculpt, and smooth your body through a series of painless, nonsurgical treatment sessions.  

Manual cellulite reduction therapy

We also perform cellulite reduction manually, with a specialized oscillating massage device called the G5 Cellutec®. By initiating deep tissue mobilization and skin layer resonation, this gentle treatment can:

  • Release tightly tethered connective tissues
  • Boost lymphatic drainage and detoxification
  • Effectively smooth out puckered skin tissue
  • Minimize the overall appearance of cellulite

If you’re ready to say goodbye to stubborn cellulite, we can help. Call or click online to schedule a visit at New York Laser and Skin Clinic in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York today.