Cellulite – is there ANYTHING I can do about it?
This question about cellulite is from a reader and so I did some research and here is what my research turned up:
Orange peel skin is a skin issue that up to 80% of women have to contend with. Most commonly seen in the bottom and thighs cellulite affects women with varying degrees of “dimpliness” and associated body image distress. It is possible to minimise the appearance of cellulite, however, the treatment requires more than just use of a miracle cream and can take time to have an effect.
Cellulite occurs in the subcutaneous layer, which is top layer of fat just under the skin surface. Between the subcutaneous layer and the dermis there is net of fiberous connective tissue, the septae, which stores fat cells in compartments. Due to decreases in microcirculation and increases in fluid retention and blood pooling the septae become less flexible and pressure builds up pushing the fat cells against the skin. With time, the septae become a fiberous honeycomb structure that traps the fat cells causing the large bumps that are the hallmark of cellulite. The area has very poor blood supply, which is why the skin where cellulite occurs often feels cold to touch and poor lymphatic flow so is not easily removed by diet and exercise.
The cause of cellulite is not clear-cut. The common triggers are as mentioned above, are poor microcirculation and lymphatic flow however, what causes these changes in the first place is the issue. Genetics certainly plays a role with those susceptible to cellulite having an increased number of fat cells, poor tissue integrity including blood vasculature and lymphatic vessels and hormonal sensitivities.
Hormonal issues are strongly indicated with the balance between androgens and estrogens being indicated. Men with low androgen levels are more likely to develop cellulite. Estrogen is the likely driver in women, with higher levels promoting the growth of fat cells around the breast, thighs and buttocks.
A sedentary lifestyle may contribute to a worsening appearance of cellulite, as it is associated with weight gain, which can increase the pressure of the fats cells protruding into the dermis. It is important to note however, that excess weight is
not the cause of cellulite and it is equally found in individuals of normal and low weight, as it is those that are overweight. On the other hand exercise encourages the flow of lymph (removing waste products) and circulation (supplying nutrition) and may improve the appearance of cellulite.
There are no proven treatments for cellulite however stimulating the dormant, subcutaneous fat to be more active and encouraging its re-absorption back into the body metabolism may assist. This incorporates improving local blood and lymph flow to the area. In addition increasing the elasticity of skin will mean it is better able to cope better with increased fat volume.
Most topical products aimed at treating cellulite contain cellular metabolism stimulants. Some examples include carnitine, cayenne and caffeine all of which theoretically increase lipolisis (fat metabolism). Some also include ingredients that increase skin tissue integrity by promoting lymph or blood flow such as rosemary oil, gotu kola or horse chestnut or decrease fluid retention such as birch oil. The most popular by far are caffeine containing creams which are based on the effect of caffeine to promote lymphatic drainage from tissues thereby removing fluid retention and increasing lipolysis (cellular metabolism) which promote breakdown of cellular fat. While potentially effective in theory, no research backs up the effectiveness of caffeine for the treatment of cellulite so before you rush out to buy a cream, try massaging the coffee grains from your morning cup into cellulite affected skin each day and see what happens. If too messy and you do choose to work with a topical product, choose one that contains both cellular metabolism stimulants and improves the integrity of the skin. (Ed note: I couldn’t find any good natural cellulite creams so please comment and let us know at vitaleblog if you have used one)
Other topical treatments that may assist include massage and skin brushing the area affected by cellulite, which help to stimulate both the lymphatic system and the microcirculation. Done daily, dry skin brushing will improve the overall appearance of the skin as it also helps remove the top layer of dead skin cells.
Using dietary measures to improve cellular health will not only make you feel better, it may well help you to reduce cellulite. However no specific diets have research to support anti-cellulite claims. That being said many are associated with a reduction in the key factors that promote of cellulite such as inflammation, poor microcirculation, connective tissue weakness and sluggish fat metabolism. Reducing dairy and sugar consumption seems to have the greatest effect on minimizing the appearance of cellulite. Both dairy and sugar are associated with inflammation and dairy is high in saturated fats, which can impact microcirculation and fat metabolism. (I haven’t yet found a better resource about dietary concerns than Karen Fischer’s book The Healthy Skin Diet). A diet high in good oils, whole grains, fruit & vegetables and water will minimize the key cellulite triggers as well as improve cellular health and general wellbeing.
If all else fails and you have an emergency trip to the beach, fake tan can help temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite as can a good pair of swimmers (I wear these Vintage-style swimmers and love the cover they provide) and some board shorts or a sarong. Try to use a fake tan based on natural ingredients such as betacarotene as this will minimise the use of chemicals that may in fact contribute to cellular toxicity. And remember most of all to focus on your best assets and the parts of the body that you do love because above all, confidence in yourself is attractive.