Getting “Rid” Of Cellulite: Science Fact Or Fiction

Contrary to what patients have heard or read, cellulite is not the result of toxins, poor circulation or clogged lymphatics.

There have been tonnes of claims about what cellulite is, where it comes from and how to get rid of it. But with all this misinformation flying around, what are the facts? In this article we will debunk why cellulite is in fact normal and if there are any proven ways to reduce it.

What is cellulite?

Despite being demonised by society over many years, believe it or not cellulite is actually normal, and is likely the product of genetics and hormones. Cellulite not a pathological condition meaning that it’s not caused by a disease or illness but rather it’s physiological, which means it by no means harmful or abnormal although it can affect body image and quality of life.

Cellulite is a storage pattern of superficial fat. Instead of fat being stored all around the body, it’s stored in little pockets separated by fibrous strands called septae. These strands pull down and tether the skin, and that’s what leads to the dimpled appearance of cellulite.

How cellulite develops is not clear, although several factors—gender, genetics, and lifestyle—are believed to be involved. Both males and females have fat in their thighs that’s stored in little columns, as our body ages, the fat kind of puckers out a little bit, and the skin thins, so you see more of this rippling effect. In men, the bands that hold connective tissue in place are arranged in a zigzag pattern, whereas for women the pattern is more of a circular shape.

Another factor to consider is female hormones. As women age their bodies produce less oestrogen. This hormone keeps blood vessels flowing smoothly. Less oestrogen can result in poor circulation which can ultimately mean a decrease in new collagen production and the breakdown of older connective tissue.


Can you get rid of cellulite?

Despite the variety of therapeutic options that exist to treat cellulite, none of them have been proven successful in the long term. Anti-cellulite creams, injectables, fillers and laser may help to reduce the appearance of cellulite in the immediate sense but after a short period of time it would go back to its original structure. 

A systematic review done in 2015 shows a variety of studies that look into the effectiveness of different techniques indicated that either the treatments were not very effective, or the research methodology was flawed.


Do topical cellulite treatments work?

While many topical formulas help keep your skin moisturised and may temporarily smooth the appearance of your skin, they can’t address the underlying structural issues that cause the dimples and lumps associated with cellulite. 

There’s also no standardised means of measuring cellulite, making it difficult to gauge whether improvement has indeed taken place. When we have a look into what cellulite creams claim, they do “help the appearance of cellulite” they do not say that they get rid of cellulite and rightly so because there’s not one study to prove a certain topical treatment works in the long term.  

When looking at what ingredients are often in these topical ointments, there are a few common ingredients. Caffeine is in almost every cellulite-reducing product that shows any benefit, because it helps blood flow to the skin and works like a diuretic. In removing moisture from the skin, it does help firm it; however, this is temporary.  

Retinol is supposed to work by being able to penetrate the skin, exfoliate it, and increase collagen production, which makes skin thicker and hides the dimpling fat. Other creams boast the ingredient dimethylaminoethanol or DMAE, an antioxidant derived from fish that when combined with amino acids supposedly stimulates the muscles to contract and become firmer. 

However, there’s no scientific proof that cellulite creams are effective in getting rid of cellulite or reducing its appearance.

Try out this quick 20-minute HIIT workout if you’re looking to switch up your usual lifting routine!

Should you get rid of cellulite?

Although it’s impossible to get rid of cellulite completely, there are things you can do to minimise its appearance. Strength training, especially when combined with diet and cardio, can reduce body fat and sculpt muscles, helping erase some of those dimples. 

Exercise can help build muscle and reduce body fat – thereby improving the appearance of cellulite, it cannot get rid of it completely. The thing to remember is exercise should not just be viewed as solely a method for changing our appearance, be that weight loss or cellulite reduction, as it has an array of benefits to offer us.  

Our bodies are ultimately supposed to be different; they’re supposed to move and jiggle when we move and having scars, stretchmarks, and cellulite is not something we should stigmatise or create shame around. Ultimately, it’s the individuals choice when it comes to getting ‘rid’ of cellulite. Decreasing societies’ pressure to have a perfect body and embracing imperfections will alleviate a lot of pressure we put on ourselves.

Check out this post with our ambassador Amelia Goldsmith who aims to normalise weight gain for women…

The verdict

Majority of women of all shapes and sizes, and ethnicities have cellulite. It’s not a pathological condition, it’s physiological, which means it’s normal. As a society we should try to learn to embrace it, although with societal pressures, it’s understandable why some people want to reduce theirs. 

No cellulite creams are going to be a miracle cure. Doing strength training combined with cardio may help to firm up your body which may reduce the appearance of cellulite. However exercise should be something we do for enjoyment, endorphins and overall health, not something we do just to change our bodies.

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Jenaed Gonçalves Brodell

Jenaed Gonçalves Brodell

Writer and expert

Jenaed Gonçalves Brodell is a well know Registered Dietitian (HCPC) and Sport Scientist. She is a fitness enthusiast and comes from a semi professional field hockey background. Her passion for sports nutrition and background in the sporting arena making her relatable to many amateur and elite sports personnel. She has experience working for the NHS & in South Africa as a consultant dietitian. She provides evidence based, easy to follow, practical advice and guidance.She has experience in the Paediatric field specialising in sports performance for junior and adult athletes. Her writing background comes from extensive researching throughout her career finding the most up to date information and translating it into easy to understand information for the public. She shares information on her public instagram page @the_Athletes_dietitianUK on the latest in evidence based nutrition.

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