Can We Get Rid of Cellulite?
Yes, but forget about “miracle cures.”
-Annie Tucker Morgan for Divine Caroline
We’ve all been there, though we’d probably prefer to forget those dark moments: examining our backsides in brightly lit dressing rooms as we try on bathing suits, or scrutinizing our thighs in the relative safety of our own bathrooms, we realize that the texture of our skin is not quite as smooth as we’d like. In fact, it’s downright dimply. But why? We twist to and fro in front of the mirror in vain attempts to make the lumps disappear. Alas, cellulite is a formidable opponent that won’t be defeated that easily. But learning to distinguish between what’s fact and what’s fiction regarding this pesky condition will help you evaluate treatments and preventive measures.
A female trouble
Scientifically, the term cellulite refers to deposits of fat that squeeze their way between the fibrous web of connective tissues just beneath the surface of our skin. Aesthetically, cellulite presents as dimpled or puckered flesh that is sometimes described as resembling cottage cheese or an orange peel. Most commonly, it appears on our thighs and buttocks, though it can also show up on our stomachs, upper arms, and even breasts. Because women naturally store more fat in these areas, they’re significantly more likely to develop cellulite than men are, especially women ages thirty-five and up.
People who are quick to equate excessive cellulite with being overweight are only scratching the surface of the problem. Certainly, an individual’s food choices and activity levels can impact the relative severity of her cellulite, but often it’s a family affair—in other words, as the Mayo Clinic explains, “genetics may play the biggest role in whether you develop it.” (Thanks a lot, Great-Grandma.) Aside from our DNA’s part in cellulite formation, hormones are often to blame as well: women with higher-than-normal estrogen levels (usually produced by hormonal contraceptives) are particularly susceptible. Finally—brace yourselves—emotional stress is yet another trigger for cellulite; it’s been shown to weaken connective tissue, thereby increasing the opportunity for fat cells to proliferate between the fibers.
If I had a dollar for every cellulite “miracle cure” that’s available online, I’d be … well, I probably wouldn’t be sitting in an office right now. A quick scan of the offerings reveals that for $99.95, you can pick up a bottle of a substance that bills itself as a “sure thing” and promises “to get rid of even the most stubborn cellulite.” Or you might like the “all-natural formula” that retails for $49.95 and “penetrates the skin for easy absorption into those stubborn cellulite areas. The cellulite-fighting ingredients then help create a tighter and firmer look.” And then there are the cures that contain “seaweed mud” and “slenderizing anti-cellulite gel.” With treatments as effective as these, it’s a wonder there’s even one surviving butt dimple in the world today.