You don’t know quite when it happened but one day you see it in the mirror staring back at you: little dimples on the back of your thighs. Sometimes compared to as “cottage cheese” in texture, it can be a woman (or man’s) worst nightmare. Although you’re not alone, as much as 95% of the female population develops cellulite at some point in their lives, it can still be a difficult burden.

There are three layers of fat beneath the surface of your skin. Cellulite occurs in the subcutaneous (top) level of these layers. Within this layer there is a structure of connective tissue called the septae and is composed of compartments that store fat cells. These help to insulate the body and offer structural support for your skin. When cellulite occurs the subcutaneous fat cells are pushed upwards and the septae move downwards and – ta da – the dimple effect.
Many women know that as we age, our skin becomes thinner and more transparent. Although cellulite can occur in girls as young as fourteen, it becomes even more visible as we get older. Cellulite can develop in the thighs, buttocks, neck, stomach and the upper arms. Although men can develop cellulite, it is a much rarer occurrence due to a different structure in the subcutaneous layer of the skin.
Cellulite is not simply a “fat person” problem. It actually can be the result of a variety of factors, some beyond an individual’s control. Believe it or not, some women are genetically prone to develop cellulite, regardless of their weight (although excess weight will be a major factor). Other sources include hormones (when and where it develops); pregnancy, stress, sedentary lifestyle, smoking and obesity are all major contributors to this condition.

What is happening to the body when cellulite develops?

It is actually a five stage process whereby blood circulation and lymphatic drainage activity to the cells is drastically reduced. As the weakened cells that results from this begin to leak blood into surrounding areas, there is also an accumulation of lymphatic fluid. This leads to a pressure on the cells which will begin to swell and push upwards, creating an initial bumpy texture on the skin. As the cells become more deprived of oxygen they begin to thicken, worsening the cottage cheese appearance. Over time, these cells become trapped and have such poor circulation; fat continues to build up in these cells and cannot be removed (even with diet and exercise).

Treatment

While there are is no sure fire “treatment” for cellulite, it is important to remember that it is not a disease. Cellulite occurs in all types of women and all body shapes. It can appear in extremely thin women just as easily as obese women so don’t blame your eating habits for those unsightly bumps.
Over the past decade the market has become flooded with cellulite solutions and although some may be more effective than others, no one product will work miracles on everyone. Creams have become especially popular and utilize a variety of ingredients (including caffeine) to smooth the texture of your skin and reduce the appearance of cellulite. Remember though, cellulite may never truly go away but it is possible to minimize the appearance.
Exercise may not get rid of cellulite but toned muscles will certainly help mask its appearance. Skin lying over taught muscles will have a smoother appearance than skin lying over layers of excessive fat. Target the areas of your body most prone to cellulite to see more effective results.

Don’t give up!

Cellulite may seem like the end of the world and although it may never completely go away, maintaining a regular routine of exercise and daily moisturizing with specially designed creams will help in the long run. As with any skin care plan, patience will be your greatest ally and an important motivator when nothing seems to be changing. Remember, as previously stated, cellulite is not the result of bad behavior – sometimes it just happens and since so many women deal with it every day, you’re in good company. Think positive and don’t let the development of cellulite keep you from feeling confident and beautiful!

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