Lumps, cottage cheese, mattress skin, and orange peels: the terms we use to describe cellulite are rarely flattering. But despite the stigma around it, cellulite affects women of all body types, and it’s more common than you might think. What makes this condition so widespread, and why do women deal with it more often than men? The answers may point to successful treatment options.
How Does Cellulite Develop?
There are many misconceptions about cellulite. The dimpled patches you see on hips, thighs, tummies, and forearms aren’t a disease; rather, cellulite is a natural side-effect of aging and weight gain. Of course, the discomfort and self-consciousness it can spark in women are often a very real problem.
Cellulite is instead the visual effect of fatty tissue putting pressure on the fibers that connect your skin, fat layers, and muscles, or septa. This is why cellulite tends to appear on areas that most easily gain weight, but even slender people struggle with it. The presence of fat highlights more than causes cellulite; studies point to inflammation, lymphatic problems, circulatory issues, and hormonal changes as bigger culprits.
Why Do Women Develop Cellulite More Than Men?
The story behind cellulite is complex and not fully understood. However, one trend is consistent; women develop cellulite more than men. Where around 90 percent of biological women see at least some cellulite, as few as 2 percent of men do. What leads to such a drastic difference?
There are a few leading theories to explain this. The first is a simple difference in the structure of men’s and women’s septa. The fibers of men tend to run at 45-degree angles to the skin, or diagonally. Women, meanwhile, have septa that run vertically.
Because of this, the septa of biological women may face more pressure as they sit, stand, walk, and lift throughout the day. The weakened septa grow increasingly uneven, allowing fat to bulge between them and form the dimpled look of cellulite.
This isn’t the only factor, however. Men who do develop cellulite usually have low testosterone and high estrogen levels. This suggests that estrogen plays a role in cellulite. And indeed, cellulite often appears or grows worse at times of high estrogen, such as puberty, pregnancy, or starting hormonal birth control.
Skin, muscle, and lymphatic health are further clues to your cellulite odds. For example, dehydration and smoking can both affect your cardiovascular health and make skin issues more apparent. Toned muscles and stronger circulation, on the other hand, make cellulite less visible.
Your lymphatic system plays an important role as well. Improper circulation around areas with cellulite can halt the flow of your lymphatic system, blocking proper drainage.
Finally, there’s also a genetic factor in play. Some women are simply more likely to show a little cellulite than others. But if you are feeling concerned about your own cellulite, you don’t have to give up just yet.
Can Cellulite Be Treated Without Surgery?
Many things cause cellulite, but that also means there are many ways to treat it. Some women opt for cosmetic surgery, which can remove fatty tissues and lessen cellulite’s appearance. Less invasive options also exist. Short-term fixes include creams and ointments, which plump up your skin cells to make cellulite less visible. For a longer-term solution, though, consider a procedure like lypossage.
Lypossage is a form of massage therapy that stimulates your lymphatic system. Mechanical pressure around your lymph nodes helps to clear lymphatic blockages, reducing buildup in and around cells. Over time, this can lead to a notably slimmer profile and less prominent cellulite. If you’re seeking non-invasive options, lifestyle changes and lypossage therapy along with regular lymphatic drainage massage may be all you need to feel more comfortable in your own skin.