Cellulite 101

Are your thighs and hips plagued by bumpy, cottage-cheese style skin? You're not alone. Approximately 80 percent of women suffer from cellulite. So, what can you do about this unsightly condition?

What Is Cellulite?

Cellulite appears when the connective cords that tether your skin to muscle push against an area of fat cells. As the fat cells push out, the cords pull down creating an uneven surface on your skin. Cellulite can range from hard-to-see dimples to deeper ripples in your skin surface. It most often occurs on the hips, thighs, and backsides of women. Medically, it's completely harmless.

What Causes Cellulite?

Gaining even a small amount of weight can worsen the appearance of cellulite, but the primary culprit is genetics. Aging, less elastic skin is at greater risk for cellulite and studies have shown that stress, hormone changes, and inactivity can also be blamed. Despite the fact that cellulite is caused by expanding fat cells, remaining thin doesn't make you immune to the problem if you're genetically predisposed to it.

Preventing Cellulite

Unfortunately, there's no way to ward off cellulite entirely. Maintaining a stable weight and exercising regularly will help keep skin tone in cellulite-ridden areas looking as clear as possible.

Treating Cellulite

There are plenty of creams on the market, but the general consensus is that they're ineffective. Plastic surgery can be an option for extreme cases, but be warned that liposuction can make cellulite appear worse. Various body treatments like massage and wraps can temporarily improve the appearance of cellulite, but won't yield long-term results. Mesotherapy, where a solution of botanicals, enzymes, and hormones are injected under the skin, is a popular option but also only yields temporary results and can have harsh side effects. The most promising treatments may be laser and radiofrequency procedures that, with regular treatments, have demonstrated results that last up to 6 months.

The best thing you can do to reduce the appearance of cellulite is to lose weight and exercise more. Losing weight will help your fat cells shrink, putting less pressure on the connective cords straining your skin. Exercising will help to build and tone your muscles, making your skin stronger and more clear. According to The American Council on Exercise, even 20 minutes of cardio combined with 20 minutes of strength-training 3 times a week will help reduce the appearance of cellulite.