Yikes! My Mother has Cellulite! Does that mean I am going to have it too?
When I was around the age of 20, my aunt made an uncharacteristically insensitive comment: “I hope you don’t have cellulite like your mother.” My mother had horrible cellulite from her knees to her nose. The kind of cellulite that makes you cringe, with dimples as big as tangerines (no hyperbole). Fortunately, I do not have cellulite quite like my mother, but I do still have it. Genetics were not in my favor. I am female, and, well, you already heard about my mother.
What Is Cellulite?
Cellulite is the herniation of subcutaneous fat within fibrous connective tissue that manifests as skin dimpling and nodularity. It appears in 85-98% of women. Therefore, if you have cellulite, you certainly are not alone. This statistic also indicates that cellulite is physiological as opposed to pathological, and results from a complex combination of factors ranging from hormones to heredity.
Cellulite is commonly found on:
Why Mostly Women and not Men?
Yup we gals have more fat, in typical circumstances, which we carry around our hips and thighs. Women have three layers of fat on the hips, thighs, buttocks, stomach, and triceps areas. Making matters worse, women have less supportive connective tissue, which is the scaffolding that holds the fat in place. Further, the scaffolding in men’s bodies have a cross-hatched pattern much like a chain-linked fence, while the scaffolding in women looks more like a picket fence. We all know that, while picket fences are lovely, particularly when flanked by rose bushes, they are not very strong! Thus, only about 10% of men have cellulite.
Agreed, it really is not fair!!
Cellulite does not seem to serve any evolutionary purpose and appears to have become more prevalent and worse as generations have become less active
According to the UK Daily, women in 1953 would spend three hours a day doing the housework, an hour walking to and from the shops in the town center, an hour shopping and another hour making dinner. Women of today are driving to work, sitting at a desk all day, then picking up a prepared meal at Whole Foods, or worse Chik-Fil-A. Think back to pictures of women taken in the 1950s or even 60s. It is hard to find a dimple.
Other Contributing Factors of Cellulite
- Hormones- many studies are showing how modern products are estrogen disruptors, and estrogen helps defend against cellulite
- Poor diet- more food is being prepared for us, not by us – prepared foods with added preservatives and harmful ingredients trigger cellulite
- An unhealthy lifestyle- inactivity, smoking, too much sun, drug use, and more
- Accumulated toxins
- Genetics- in this instance, you can honestly blame your mother
- Weight gain – studies have indicated that we eat nearly 1,000 more calories than women in prior generations
- Inactivity – we spend more time sitting in today’s modern world
- Pregnancy – the sudden weight gain of pregnancy causes more stress on our “picket fence”
Does Cellulite Get Worse with Age?
We have hormones to thank for this. As women age, our bodies produce less estrogen. Estrogen helps keep blood vessels in good condition. Less estrogen can lead to poor circulation, which is why women are protected from heart disease until menopause, at which point heart disease is an equal opportunity assault (apologies, a former cardiovascular nurse is writing this). Less circulation means less oxygen and nutrients to the area. Too, a decrease in estrogen can lead to a decrease in collagen production, enlarged fat cells, and the breakdown of connective tissue. (5) That all adds up to more cellulite and bigger dimples; sorry.
Is There Any Good News Regarding Cellulite?
Well, companies and the media thrive on social anxiety, and we certainly have a lot of it surrounding cellulite. Cameras are just searching for a celebrity to reveal any inch of cellulite. This has led to a plethora of self-help products on the market. But do they work? For the most part no, and certainly not as a long-term solution. Some products might offer a temporary reduction in the appearance of cellulite. The most promising product is retinol, which supports thicker skin growth to hold back bulging fat. However, this only works briefly.
What is a Girl to Do About Cellulite?
As with most things in life, the choices you make do make a difference. The same sage advice for thwarting disease and aging apply for cellulite, so consider your actions a triple-whammy towards positive outcomes:
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet of mostly plants
- Hydrate – get at least 8 of 8 (eight glasses of at least 8 ounces of water)
- Exercise – cardio activity can keep weight off and strength training smooths out the skin
- Limit alcohol and drugs and quit smoking
- Sun is okay in small doses. If you are going to be out for long periods of time, cover up or use sunscreen (pick a non-toxic one, please!)
- Go nude – well, at least ditch your underwear or wear a thong since elastic constricts blood flow
What About Cellulite Treatments?
As mentioned prior, most creams, lotions, and potions will not help. The more expensive alternatives provided by estheticians or medical professionals tend to be the better bet. According to Scientific America, there are treatable components of cellulite: fat, collagen, and circulation (8). Keep these components in mind as you are evaluating treatment options.
- Fillers: like Restylane® and Radiesse® can give temporary relief to cellulite but is a bit like putting the icing on a lumpy cake. It does not address the root cause (7)
- Lasers: TriActiv® and VelaSmooth® are two examples. Most laser treatments require a series of 10-15 sessions, and then require monthly maintenance. Thermage® is a bit more expensive but may yield better results. (There are many more options but covering all of them is not the purpose of this blog)
- Liposuction: Lipo does not improve the appearance of cellulite, and in fact may exacerbate the problem; you will have thinner, but bumpier legs. Post-liposuction, women often turn to other methods, like lasers, to smooth out their legs
- Noninvasive vacuum: Endermologie® pulls and squeezes troubled spots. Results will be visible after about 10 visits, done twice per week. Results are mixed
- Surgical: Cellulaze® is a new and promising option, although not inexpensive at $3500 per area. Cellulaze® involves using an optic laser to melt fat and break up fibrous connective tissue while stimulating the growth of new collagen. There is much less down-time compared to Liposuction
- Lymphatic Drainage Massage: this keeps the lymph moving and improves circulation. According to celebrity aesthetician Joann Vargas, “the lymphatic system brings important nutrients and carries away waste…boosts immunity. A sluggish lymphatic system can wreak havoc with your skin” (8) The BallancerPro is a great option for lymphatic drainage since it is safe and very effective
- Acoustic Sound Waves (aka Shockwave): a unique non-invasive treatment for cellulite, improves skin texture, tone, and body contouring. Shockwave triggers several processes including flushing out fat cells, boosting collagen production and forming stronger layers of skin.
As a woman, the chances of you having cellulite are high. However, there are things you can do, and the sooner you start the better. I certainly wish I had known about lymphatic drainage massage as a 14-year-old when a friend prompted me to do the squeeze test; I had lots of dimples, while skinny Ellen had none. I knew then I was doomed, as my mother was. Although, I vowed to never have cellulite to that extent, and thankfully I haven’t.
I have always been active, I take my diet seriously, and I don’t have any vices. I believe if you live a healthy lifestyle, and incorporate a few extra boosts, like lymphatic drainage massage and shockwave, you can keep cellulite under control. It may only be noticeable to you.
Body R-N-R is proud to offer two non-invasive and clinically proven methods to help with cellulite: the BallancerPro and radial acoustic shockwave therapy. It is my hope that you now have a better understanding of what cellulite is, what you can do to prevent it or treat it, and that you know you are not alone in this!
- Rossi, Ana Beatris R; Vergnanini, Andre Luiz (2000). “Cellulite: A review”. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 14 (4): 251–62. doi:10.1046/j.1468-3083.2000.00016.x. PMID 11204512. S2CID 18504078.
- ^ Pinna, K. (2007). Nutrition and diet therapy. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. p. 178.
- ^ Jump up to:a b Avram, Mathew M (2004). “Cellulite: A review of its physiology and treatment”. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy. 6 (4): 181–5. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.506.7997. doi:10.1080/14764170410003057. PMID 16020201. S2CID 20205700.
- ^ Janda, K; Tomikowska, A (2014). “Cellulite – causes, prevention, treatment”. Annales Academiae Medicae Stetinensis. 60 (1): 29–38. PMID 25518090.