Cellulite & How To Treat It

There Actually Is A Bad Kind Of Cottage Cheese.

Last updated on: 02/05/2019 at 6:29 am

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Cellulite & How To Treat It

Photo: Imaxtree


Lately, it seems everywhere you look the derrière is taking over. Just think about how many pop songs are basically odes to the lower half of your body? I mean… the pressure! The problem is that not all of us have the time or money it takes to have the perfect diet, exercise routine and upkeep. Even for those that do, cellulite still finds a way to creep up. So instead of applying oil to the lower half of your body and wrapping it up in saran wrap (yes, this is actually a thing!), read on to explore what exactly cellulite is and some of the most effective ways to treat it.



Located close to the surface of the skin in the subcutaneous layer, cellulite usually appears when the connective bands (septae) between skin and muscle pull down on certain areas of the body; most often the butt, stomach and thighs. This results in fat cells being pushed through and creates that dimpling effect commonly associated with skin that looks like cottage cheese or orange peel. Not appealing, we know.



Although scientists have yet to come to a definitive conclusion as to what actually causes cellulite, it does seem to be linked to a combination of factors.



The loss of skin’s thickness and elasticity, the breakdown of collagen as well as the decline in our circulatory system as we age all contribute to cellulite.



If you have too little fiber in your diet or indulge in an excess amount of fats, carbohydrates or salt, you may be likely to have larger amounts of cellulite.



Certain genetic dispositions have a higher propensity for the production of cellulite:

  • Gender – Estimates indicate that upwards of 75% of women will have cellulite while only around 10% of men develop it.
  • Ethnicity – Asian or Caucasian ethnicities are more prone to cellulite.
  • Distribution of Fat – Different bodies tend to store fat in different ways. For those that store larger amounts of fat in the areas where cellulite is most likely to happen, there is also greater propensity towards increased levels of it.
  • Metabolism Rates – A slower metabolism is usually associated with higher rates of cellulite because those who have slower metabolisms tend to also have more fat.
  • Circulatory Insufficiency – Those inclined to poor blood and lymphatic circulation may be more likely to have a higher risk for cellulite.



The likes of estrogen, insulin, prolactin, as well as the thyroid hormones, seem to play a role in the increase of both fluid retention and fat cells which contribute to cellulite.



  • Smoking – not only does this habit accelerate aging in the skin (breakdown of collagen, etc.), it also has a negative effect on the circulatory system as well as connective tissues.
  • Exercise – lack of exercise is linked to decreased levels of blood circulation.
  • Sitting habits – by sitting for long periods of time, blood circulation is limited to the areas more prone to cellulite.



Stage I (Mild) is noticeable only when skin is pinched or squished but not apparent when either lying down or standing up.

Stage II (Moderate) only appears when standing but is not visible when lying down.

Stage III (Severe) is visible when standing or lying down.



When looking at how to target cellulite, it should be noted that there are essentially two ways to go about doing so: at-home and professional treatments. The treatments that are done at home target the appearance of the cellulite (the way the skin looks), but not the actual cause (the bands pulling down on the fat). Professional treatments, on the other hand, can actually target the underlying causes.




There seems to be a never-ending amount of magical elixirs available on the market that claim to cure cellulite. Truth be told, many of them are rather ineffective and don’t really do anything. In terms of improving the appearance of cellulite, topical Vitamin A treatments (retinoids) are currently the only known solutions that have research to back up their effectiveness. They work by boosting cell turn over and increasing collagen levels, improving both the skin’s structure and how firm it is.

When using this anti-aging ingredient on the body make sure to use it in one of its gentler incarnations, Retinol or Retinyl Palmitate, which are both available over the counter. The prescription-strength form, Retinoic Acid (Retin-A), may be too potent for coverage of such large areas. It’s important to note that it takes time for retinol cream to actually start working when using them for cellulite treatment – usually 4-6 months of regular use.

Check out our guide if you’re interested in discovering more about the anti-aging benefits of Retinol, which includes information on how it works and what it does.



Paula's Choice Resist Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Treatment

Paula’s Choice Resist Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Treatment $28

Although a bit of a splurge, this fragrance-free formula is perfect for targeting areas of the body that have specific aging concerns. The lotion comes in an opaque, pump-style packaging that minimizes degradation from exposure to air and light and protects its key ingredients, including Retinol, antioxidants like Vitamin C (Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate) and Vitamin E (Tocopheryl Acetate).  Last but definitely not least, your skin is left moisturized without a feeling of greasiness or tackiness when used.



Although caffeine cream for cellulite gets a lot of buzz in terms of being effective, there is limited to no independent research that supports the effectiveness of it in its current incarnation. The reason caffeine has seen a rise in popularity for treating cellulite is because it is distantly related to aminophylline, an ingredient that had once shown slight promise and that beauty marketing continues to make happen. The buzz about caffeine cream is also helped by the fact that users experience a temporary visual improvement. The creams seem to dehydrate fat cells, making them look less swollen for a short period of time. As we said, research is currently limited and further studies are needed before we can understand the real potential, but that doesn’t mean the anti-aging ingredient is useless.



Though it seems the underlying cause of cellulite cannot be improved by dry-brushing (a combination of exfoliation and a massage), many people still swear by it. Our take on the anti-aging treatment is that, since it leaves skin smoother, softer and helps boost circulation to areas where cellulite may be prominent, at the very least it leaves skin looking better toned.



SpaVerde Natural Boar Bristle Body Brush SetSpaVerde Natural Boar Bristle Body Brush Set 19.95

Made from natural materials such as Chinese cherry wood, boar bristles and cotton, this brush set has over 1000 5-star reviews, which comes as no surprise when considering the high quality. The body brush can be used on its own or with the detachable handle to ensure that hard-to-reach areas are easily accessible. The other thing that may be important to note is that the brand claims the brush is 100% organic and cruelty-free.



As mentioned above, cellulite is caused by connective bands putting tension on fat tissue. By releasing these bands, the dimpling effect is vastly reduced.  Cellfina is an FDA-cleared anti-aging treatment that is relatively new to the market. It is getting positive reviews as a treatment that causes minimum discomfort and also effectively targets the underlying cause of cellulite, vastly improving its appearance.





Make sure to meet with a reputable skin-care practitioner who you feel comfortable with and is able to answer all your questions prior to the treatment.



The physician you have chosen to work with will perform the anti-aging treatment using proprietary technology. First, the areas targeted will be marked and a local numbing agent will be injected to minimize any discomfort. Following this, a suction cup is applied to the targeted areas in order to “flatten” them. Once the anesthetic has taken effect, a precise micro-needle will be inserted just beneath the skin in order to release the septae (bands) that cause the dimpling



Although the anti-aging treatment has limited downtime and allows patients to go about their day as usual, it is recommended to take it easy for the next 24 hours and refrain from activities that strain the body (like exercise).



Approximately 1 hour.



Results are visible in as little as 3 days and are still evident 3 years after the procedure.



The most common side effects with Cellfina are bruising, soreness and tenderness. Studies have shown they can last anywhere from a few days to weeks after the treatment.



Although cellulite is definitely a tough issue to combat, advances in the anti-aging field are definitely closer than ever to contending with it. Always remember that aging is a natural process and preventative anti-aging treatments and effective skincare products are there to help you look and feel good at any age. Most importantly, like all changes to our bodies, acceptance is key!


Shimon Bobb
Published on: 06/18/2017 Last updated on: 02/05/2019

Shimon Bobb is the Managing Editor of The Youthist. His passion for all things beauty & skincare is what inspired him to start the platform. Shimon's past experience in media working with personal care brands, helped him develop a deeper understanding of effective skincare ingredients & product formulas. He's been editing and writing about beauty, skincare & wellness for the past 8 years.

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