What is cellulite?

Cellulite is the term given to the dimpled appearance of the skin overlying hips, thighs and buttocks.  Cellulite is much more common in women than in men because there are differences in the way fat, muscle and connective tissue are distributed between sexes.  Cellulite is not related to the condition called cellulitis, a soft tissue infection. 

How is cellulite formed and who is at risk?

The dimples of cellulite are caused by the fat deposits that push and distort the connective tissues beneath the skin.  Formation of cellulite is thought to involve two steps. The first step is formation of fat lobule enlargement and increased amounts of firm connective tissue.  Secondly, the connective tissue strands spread out like a net and pinch down the enlarged fat lobules causing the characteristic dimpled appearance.  Heredity, skin thickness, gender, age and amount and distribution of body fat can all influence the extent of cellulite.  Women who do not have excess body weight rarely have severe cellulite formation.  

How can cellulite be removed or reduced?

Cellulite is asymptomatic and does not require treatment although most people dislike the appearance and prefer treatments for cosmetic reasons.   Many treatments of cellulite have been proposed and range from dietary changes, cellulite creams to mechanical treatments.  See “Cellulite Treatment” for more information.