What Causes Cellulite on a Woman's Body

Cellulite is typically located on the buttocks, hips, and thighs. However, it can also be located on the back of the arms, directly below the arm pit, and even on the chest in some cases.

For years cellulite has been an ugly word for most women. It is one of the things that tend to haunt millions of women across the country regardless of race.

Cellulite is known in the medical field as localized lipodystrophy - meaning unformed fat in one or several specific areas of the body.

Most doctors refer to cellulite as just plain old body fat.

Men typically don't have cellulite because of the way the fibers within their dermis are shaped. Instead of being crossed, they are perpendicular to the skin, so a build up of sweaty fat beneath the skin never takes place. Not only are the fibrous bands in women crossed, but they tend to be much tighter than men’s which causes a pulling on the skin and ends up causing the actual cellulite effect.

Another reason men tend to not accumulate cellulite is because they have tougher skin corium (dermis) which doesn’t allow a build up of fat to collect. Men therefore have smoother, tighter skin than women do. Another major factor is hormonal reasons.

Hormones--not diet or exercise--are primarily responsible for regulating fat storage and metabolism in the subcutaneous fat layer. Especially in the late stages of pregnancy in which estrogen can actually break collagen tissue fibers apart, which is a crucial step in relaxing the cervix for childbirth. This is why, contrary to popular belief, cellulite is not directly related to obesity, although cellulite may look more prominent on overweight individuals.

Hormones are most likely responsible for the formation of cellulite. Hormonal factors would explain why cellulite often appears in women during periods of hormonal change such as puberty, pregnancy as stated above, menopause, premenstrual syndrome and during the initial months on birth control pills.

"There are no set rules regarding who gets cellulite. It's not really clear why some people get it and others don't.

Despite promises made by advertisers, there isn't a method that can remove cellulite completely. Even liposuction and other types of techniques such as an endermology machine or skin vacuum can eliminate cellulite completely. It has not been proven scientifically, and it probably isn't any better than exercising and reducing the overall fat content of your body.

You really need to have a certain amount of thickness of fat before you will start to show cellulite, and if you have very little, there is a smaller chance cellulite will be visible.

Cellulite creams, which marketers claim will dissolve the fat and smooth the skin are not a permanent solution. Creams might be somewhat effective, but only if they are used on a regular basis. Any reduction in appearance of cellulite achieved using creams usually disappears upon cessation of use.

The good news is that cellulite itself is not a sign of poor health or linked to any diseases. People who display a lot of cellulite may be overweight and should be aware of health risks associated with obesity, including heart disease and diabetes, but to date there is no scientific proof that cellulite in itself is dangerous.

One thing that most women believe is that you won’t get cellulite as long as you stay thin or should I say not overweight.

Truth is, you can have as little as 14% body fat and still have cellulite. You may have to squeeze the skin in order to see it but it is still there. So what causes a thin woman to have cellulite?

  • food allergies
  • poor blood circulation
  • lack of exercise
  • eating the wrong types of foods
  • dieting
  • poor lymphatic system drainage
  • too much sunlight

Plain and simple cellulite is nothing more than fat deposits that lie directly under the skin. Eating foods that are high in fat will increase your fat levels, thus increasing your levels of cellulite.

So - What Causes Cellulite?

There are many theories about the causes of cellulite, but it seems to have its origins in adolescence when the female hormone estrogen starts to trigger the laying down of fat by enlarging cells in the sub-dermis, particularly on the hips and thighs although cellulite can also occur on other parts of the body. These fat cells are surrounded by connective collagen. Lymph fluid that runs through the tissue gradually begins to accumulate, generally because circulation decreases in this area. As a result, the fat cells are compressed and start to harden into lumps, which in time become obvious through the skin. Some experts also believe causes of cellulite are that of lifestyle factors such as high toxins within the body from drinking alcohol, caffeine, smoking, and so on. A lack of exercise also increases your chances of cellulite as with aging which results in a decrease of thickness and tone of the connective tissue within the dermis and superficial fat layer.

The way it all works is your skin (dermis) sends down anchoring fibers to the muscle. Between the skin and the muscle is a space filled with fat cells. When the fat cells start pushing against the skin between these fibers, it creates a lump appearance.

It’s sort of like pushing fat through cheesecloth – where the skin isn’t being tethered down, the fat forms a dome and where the skin is tethered down, there’s a pitting effect.

Factors in the Development and Causes of Cellulite:

  • skin tone
  • fat accumulation
  • structure of the skin
  • Women Have Different Bands

X-Shaped Bands

Fibrous bands bind the skin to deeper tissues such as fascia or muscle. In men, these bands run perpendicular to the skin. But in women, these fibers are crosses, like Xs. A good way to envision this is to picture a whole series of Xs under the skin. The part of the X that is attached to the skin traps fat. The fat can’t go anywhere, and pushes up on the skin. But those two little bands are tough and won’t stretch. They then pull the skin down and have a tufting effect on the skin and the fat.

Another way to look at this is there is a 23 day cycle of birth, growth and death that begins in the dermis (or lower layer of the skin). When new cells are born, they are round and filled with fluid. As they make their way toward the surface of the skin, they lose fluid, becoming more elongated and flat.

Once the cells reach the outer layer of the skin, they fall off as a result of washing, rubbing etc. Now as I mentioned above, the dermis consists of very elastic fibers.

Remember, they are shaped like Xs in women. These fibers give the skin resilience or bounce. Within these fibers are the glands which produce sebum, which is a fatty substance secreted from the sebaceous glands. Most of these glands open into hair follicles.

These glands also produce the body’s moisturizer, sweat glands, blood vessels, and nerve endings. Each of them is dependent on a healthy dermis functioning properly. When a build up of dead cells clogs the dermis and sweat becomes trapped beneath the skin this causes the accumulation of fat, thus bulging occurs beneath the skin.

How to Reduce Your Cellulite

There are many things on the market today that promise one can reduce or even eliminate cellulite. However, most are next to useless when it comes to cellulite reduction. Most women who have cellulite will try most anything to get rid of it. Well, let's say anything that is easy such as applying creams, gels, and so on. Even though you cannot eliminate cellulite completely there is still hope in seeing a very noticeable cellulite reduction by following the right program. Below are some tips you can follow to help rid your body of unwanted cellulite.

1. Quit or cut back on smoking.

2. Avoid unnecessary medications.
In particular, avoid diet-pills, pep-pills, sleeping pills, laxatives and diuretic pills.

3. Follow a proper exercise program.
Ideally in the fresh air. Make it part of your daily routine. If outside exercise is impossible, do it inside, to music. Or, do a regular series of breathing exercises.

4. Follow a proper diet.

a) Do not allow yourself to get dehydrated. Drink a regular amount of water.
b) Eat regular amounts of fresh fruit.
c) The more natural foods your diet contains, the better.
d) Avoid excessive consumption of coffee, alcohol, very high fat foods like chocolate/candy.
e) Make sure your diet includes enough fiber. (30 grams a day is a good target).

5. Reduce stress.
Make relaxation a regular part of your daily routine.

These 5 steps will help to cleanse your body of toxins that are believed to be a major contributory cause of cellulite. They will also make you feel a lot better.

There is no cure for cellulite so don't get disappointed. We still don't know exactly what causes it or how to eliminate it completely. Although hormones are believed to be a contributory factor some experts may disagree even though women whose bodies are undergoing hormonal changes (during puberty, menstruation, menopause etc.) often notice the appearance of cellulite.

Exercises that May Help with Cellulite Reduction

For your convenience I have listed 4 of the top hamstring exercises. Performing 4 sets 8 for 2 of the following 4 exercises, 3 days a week will tighten and firm up the trouble area found behind the upper leg. Granted, to see benefits from this you must also follow a very precise diet or your results will be very limited.

Top Four Hamstring Exercises:

1. Stiff Legged Dead Lifts – (Note: The picture shown is using a barbell.

You should use 2 dumbbells for better results)

• Grasp two dumbbells and hold them at your sides.

• Keep your feet less than shoulder width apart. Now have your legs close

to being locked and bend forward from the waist, with your back straight,

until your upper body is parallel with the ground, the bar hanging at arm's

length below you. Now lift your torso back up again, pull your shoulders

back, and arch your lower back in for a complete lower back contraction.

If you can’t get enough of a stretch use a block or stand on a bench while doing this exercise.

2. Lunges

• Grasp two dumbbells and hold them at your sides

• Having your back straight, head up, and chest out as if you were showing off Step forward, bend your knees, and bring your trailing knee close to the floor. Your step should be long enough so that your back leg becomes almost straight. Push yourself back up off your heel not your toe to the starting position with one strong movement, bringing your feet together, then step forward with the other foot and repeat the movement. You can do all your repetitions with one leg, and then repeat with the other, or you can alternate throughout the set.

3. Leg Curls

• Go to the leg curl machine and lay face down and place your heels under the lever mechanism. Your legs should be stretched out straight.

• Staying flat on the machine, curl your legs up as far as possible, until the hamstrings get a peek contraction. Release and lower the weight under control back to the starting position. Hold on to the handles or even the bench itself to keep you from coming up off of the bench. Leg curls should be done through the fullest range of motion possible.

4. Standing Leg Curls

• Stand up to the leg machine and place one leg behind the lever mechanism.

• Keep yourself steady and curl the leg back toward your behind as much as possible. Get a peak contraction at the top and then lower the weight back to the starting position. Perform the set with one leg, and then repeat the exercise using the other leg. Be certain to keep the movement under control. These can be performed with ankle weights as well. Just use the ankle weights as the resistance and if you need more resistance, place two ankle weights on one leg. When using ankle weights make sure your form is extremely strict. Don't just lift the weight up and down. Take at least 2 seconds to lift the weight and hold it at the top for a second or two, and then lower the weight about a rate of 3 seconds.