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Cellulite

Written by: Becki Murray

Updated by: Becki Murray

Last Updated: 1 February 2024

‘Orange peel’ or ‘cottage cheese’ – whatever food you use to describe it, cellulite’s dimpled or lumpy appearance is a nuisance that women in particular list as one of their most struggle-worthy body concerns. Though it is a totally normal and common skin condition, if you do want to smooth its appearance, especially around your bum or upper thighs, it can feel annoyingly stubborn when you try to get rid of it, especially as it doesn’t necessarily disappear through losing weight alone. Read our FAQs to discover why it can be a difficult body concern to treat, as well as the nifty tweakments and lifestyle changes that can help you firm, tone and reduce cellulite, boosting your confidence and overall body appearance in the process.

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What is cellulite?

Cellulite is a skin condition that occurs on areas of your body, characterised by a dimpled or lumpy skin appearance. It occurs when fat deposits push through the connective tissue beneath your skin, creating a dimpling effect. It is not considered a medical condition, but the uneven look it can give your skin can be both annoying and confidence-affecting. It’s also important to note that cellulite can affect individuals of all shapes and sizes, so while it is more visible in areas with a higher concentration of fat, it does not necessarily relate completely to excess weight.

How common is cellulite?

Cellulite is actually a really common cosmetic concern and many individuals, regardless of body weight or overall fitness, may experience it at some point in their lives. It is more prevalent in women than in men, with approximately 80-90% of women of all shapes and sizes having some degree of cellulite on their bodies.

Where can cellulite be on your body?

Cellulite commonly appears on areas of the body that are prone to a higher concentration of fat – although it doesn’t necessarily indicate poor health. It can be seen predominately on the outer and inner thighs and especially the upper part of the bum, although it can also occur around the hips and in some cases on your stomach too.

What causes cellulite?

The development of cellulite is influenced by a combination of factors including genetics, and lifestyle factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking. The condition also tends to become more noticeable with age, as the skin loses elasticity and collagen.

As for why women tend to be affected more than men, there are several reasons. Women’s bodies naturally have a higher percentage of body fat and thinner skin compared to men, which can make cellulite both more probable and visible. The collagen fibres that are part of their connective tissue are also oriented vertically, allowing fat cells to protrude through the connective tissue more easily, leading to the characteristic dimpled appearance of cellulite.

Hormonal fluctuations, especially in oestrogen and progesterone, have been shown to worsen cellulite’s appearance too, as oestrogen encourages fat storage, and progesterone encourages fluid retention. Puberty and menopause can thus contribute to the formation of cellulite, as can the physiological changes that occur during pregnancy, including weight gain, and changes in blood circulation.

 

 

 

Why is cellulite so hard to get rid of?

Unfortunately, cellulite can be quite challenging to get rid of completely, and that’s because of its multifactorial nature and the underlying factors that contribute to its development. In particular, the target for cellulite reduction – the deep connective tissue that causes it – is beneath the skin’s surface, which can be very difficult for treatments and especially topical products to reach. Most improvements are therefore in surface-level skin texture and firmness, rather than addressing the underlying structural cause.

For that reason, it’s important to approach cellulite management with realistic expectations and undertake a combination of lifestyle changes, targeted exercises and in-clinic treatments to improve (if not totally eradicate) your cellulite should you wish.

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How to get rid of cellulite?

While there is no guaranteed way to completely eliminate cellulite, various treatments and lifestyle changes (especially when used together) may help reduce its appearance and improve overall skin quality. For specific insight into diet and exercise, skincare and tweakments, there’s a section on each below:

Can I get rid of cellulite through diet and exercise?

Extreme weight fluctuations can contribute to the development and worsening appearance of cellulite, so maintaining a stable, healthy weight through diet and exercise is an important part of its management.

Regular physical activity and especially strength training can improve muscle tone and reduce overall body fat in areas that are commonly affected, including your bum and thighs. Similarly, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, as well as staying well hydrated, can be helpful for overall skin health. Both won’t eliminate cellulite entirely, but they can contribute to a more toned and firm skin appearance.

Can I get rid of cellulite with the right skincare?

As skincare only acts on the top layers of the skin, no cream can totally eradicate cellulite. However, some plumping or exfoliating products may help improve skin smoothness, reducing cellulite’s general appearance. Look for certain ingredients such as caffeine, retinoids, and antioxidants as these can promote skin firmness and reduce the appearance of mild dimpling over time.

How much, on average, would treating the concern cost?

That really depends on the treatment you choose. On average, you can expect lymphatic drainage therapies to start from £75; non-invasive laser like Emerald from £175 per treatment; radiofrequency from £350; and fat freezing from £500.

Are there surgical treatments for getting rid of cellulite?

There are some surgical procedures that may improve the appearance of cellulite – although they tend to be less popular than tweakment options nowadays as they are much more invasive, and results can still vary.

Subcision: Subcision is a surgical technique in which a small blade or needle is used to cut the fibrous bands beneath the skin’s surface. This releases the tension that creates the dimpling effect, therefore helping smooth and eliminate cellulite.

Liposuction: Liposuction is a surgical procedure designed to remove excess fat from specific areas of the body. It can improve the appearance of body contours, having a knock-on effect on cellulite, but it does not necessarily target the underlying causes.

Fat Transfer: Fat transfer involves removing fat from one area of the body and injecting it into another. While this can provide a smoothing effect, its effectiveness in treating cellulite can vary.

What tweakments are available for cellulite?

Tweakments that market themselves as targeting cellulite can be split roughly into two categories: those that target the exact cause of cellulite (which is rarer) and others that focus more on approving overall skin quality (of which there are plenty).

  1. Cellulaze: Cellulaze is a minimally invasive laser-assisted procedure that directly targets the cause of cellulite. It involves the use of a laser fibre inserted beneath the skin, which emits light that heats and breaks down the bands of connective tissue that are responsible for your body’s dimpled appearance. The procedure also stimulates collagen production for smoother, firmer skin.
  2. Laser lipolysis: Laser lipolysis uses laser energy to release fatty liquids from fat cells, causing the cells to shrink. Your body then eliminates the fatty liquids naturally. An example is the Emerald ‘cold’ laser, which can help tackle excess fat that may be contributing to cellulite appearance.
  3. Fat freezing: Cryolipolysis freezes fat cells, breaking them down and killing them. Your body metabolises the dead fat cells and eliminates them. Again, this may help remove the fat that is making cellulite more visible on your thighs and bum.
  4. Lymphatic drainage: Lymphatic drainage is a type of massage – often accomplished with the help of a compression suit – that helps your body get rid of waste and toxins by stimulating lymph fluid movement. It can help with water retention and blood circulation, lessening the appearance of cellulite. Slimyonik AIR Bodystyler and endermologie by LPG are two great examples.
  5. Laser skin treatments: Laser devices emit concentrated light energy that generates heat within the skin, stimulating collagen production, with a tightening and firming effect over time. Non-ablative lasers, including Secret Duo by Cutera and MOXI, heat the underlying layers without removing the surface, making them less invasive. 
  6. Radiofrequency: By heating up the deeper layers of the skin to create controlled injury using radiofrequency energy, RF treatments can provide an albeit gradual tightening of loose skin, which could improve cellulite appearance. Examples include the BTL Exilis Ultra 360
  7. RF Microneedling: By combining microneedling with RF energy, you can get even more tailored skin texture and firming results for your thighs and bum, again through enhanced collagen production and skin tightening. Try Sylfirm X.
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