Almost all women will get cellulite at some point in their lives. In fact, according to a study in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, nearly 85 percent of women ages 20 and older have cellulite. It can develop at any age, and most often appears on the thighs, abdomen and buttocks.
Men can also develop cellulite, but it is relatively rare. Only 10 percent of men have cellulite, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Some experts believe that hormones are primarily to blame for the disparity. Estrogen, the female hormone, tends to exacerbate cellulite because it encourages the body to build up and store fat. On the other hand, testosterone, the male hormone, burns fat.
However, cellulite is more than just excess fat. It actually involves several components of the skin’s structure. Let’s explore cellulite in more detail, and look at why women are more prone to developing it.
More About Cellulite
Everyone has a layer of protective fat between the muscle and the skin. The fat cells are surrounded by a matrix of fibrous connective cords that tether the skin to the muscle. Cellulite occurs when the fat cells become too tightly compressed between the cords, and start to bulge through to the surface of the skin (accounting for the dimpled appearance).
Women naturally have flimsier connective tissue than men, making it more difficult for female skin to contain the fat. Also, thanks to acute weight gain and fluid retention, cellulite can get worse during pregnancy. The body releases a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy, which is detrimental to the production of collagen. The skin loses its elastic quality, increasing the likelihood that the fat cells will visibly push against the skin. And, menopause causes the skin to become thinner, making cellulite more apparent.
Cellulite is not a health concern and does not require medical treatment. Nevertheless, many women are bothered by the way it looks. There is a large market for topical products (e.g., creams, lotions) that claim to reduce and even eliminate cellulite; however, most of them are ineffectual because they do not address the underlying skin structures.
The cosmetic medicine industry is still working on solutions to reduce the appearance of cellulite. Liposuction has been discussed as a possible solution, but has not yet shown permanent results.
Dr. Gregory Dumanian is a Chicago plastic and reconstructive surgeon who offers a range of surgical procedures designed to improve your appearance and boost your confidence. If you have questions about cellulite or another bothersome cosmetic problem, please call Dr. Dumanian at 312-695-1999 or send an email.