Facts & Myths of Cellulite: What’s the deal?

health and fitness Jan 16, 2021

Cellulite.. that dirty word we all hate and hate that we have it! Everyone wants to get rid of it and after seeing millions of posts on certain creams, lotions, and workouts that get rid of cellulite I decided it was time to explain what's real and what's not!

FACT: Cellulite affects nearly 90% of women at some point during their lives, even women who are otherwise slender and fit. So you are not the only one, in fact, that's like saying 9 out of ten people get it. The degree may differ but it's crazy common! VERY COMMON!  We don't see it on everyone and in every picture because we don't see everyone from every angle and people don't take pictures of it and post them!! So please don't think you're the only one!

MYTH: Creams and lotions can decrease cellulite.

I read tons of articles and research articles on creams and such and basically, every single one said creams and lotions have never been proven to decrease cellulite! Not one steady done by nonbias researchers proved it helped. Lisa M. Donofrio, an assistant professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine, and Tulane University School of Medicine said “there is no scientific proof that anti-cellulite creams work and there is no concrete way to measure cellulite either.

She tells her patients that cellulite is normal, and is likely the product of genetics and hormones. Garry S. Brody, a professor of plastic surgery at the University of Southern California agrees with this statement: “Women who believe that they can eliminate cellulite through creams, are likely to be disappointed.”

FACT: Hormones affect Cellulite production.

Female hormones are evil and conspire with Cellulite to make us nuts!!! If you’ve been through puberty, had a baby, or been through menopause (or all of the above) you’ve probably noticed that right around that hormonal time your cellulite seemed to be multiplying out of control. At least I noticed that every time I get pregnant!

Cellulite is not about being skinny or big. I have seen plenty of thin girls with it and some larger women with none. A huge factor is Hormones! Women have more fatty tissue in their legs, buttocks, and hips due to production needs. Cellulite is found in these areas due to the increase of hormones here. And that is one reason why men don't really have it. If you're a woman you are susceptible due to just being a woman!

Estrogen: This hormone is known as the women hormone! It is also known for decreasing collagen. Diminished collagen is needed during puberty to help develop hips and breast and estrogen together with the Relaxin hormone are needed in pregnancy to make it possible for your hips to widen enough to give birth. Here is the problem, diminished collagen is very bad for skin elasticity.

The less collagen you have in your skin, the more flaccid it becomes, and the more pressure the fat cells beneath can put on that thinning skin. Hence why we develop cellulite. Estrogen also increases the response of thigh fat cells to anti-lipolytic alpha receptors (preventing fat breakdown and loss) and stimulates an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL) that stimulates fat growth. This can occur in the booty and abdominal areas but the back of the thighs is most common!

Prolactin: This hormone is the number one hormone you need to produce milk while breastfeeding. It makes cellulite more visible because it increases water retention in the fatty tissue which makes each cell look larger and lumpier. It also slows your metabolism's ability to metabolize fat.

When high levels of prolactin are prevalent it basically kicks out testosterone and progesterone both of which are fat-burning hormones. This is a HUGE factor in why some women struggle to lose weight while nursing and why we have more cellulite during and after pregnancy.

Insulin:  Women who are insulin resistant, estrogen dominant, and eat a diet full of simple carbs are prone to cellulite formation.  Dr. McQuillan who did the webinar Treatment of Cellulite stated “The hormone balance—especially with regard to insulin, estrogen, and prolactin—may help prevent or treat cellulite.  Hormones such as TSH, adrenaline, ACTH, thyroid, glucagon, progesterone, and glucocorticoids help diminish the tendency to form cellulite”. – Women International

FACT: Men's and Women's skin structure and fat cell structure are different.

Fat cells under the skin are separated by a fibrous tissue called septa.  In women, the fat cells and septa are lined up perpendicular to the skin surface.  As fat accumulates and the septa become more rigid, the fat bulges around the septa and creates the rippling effect.  In men, the septa are in a criss-cross pattern that prevents the bulging effect on the skin surface. men-vs-women-fat-cells

So imagine an image of a building being built and the scaffolding is exposed. Instead of straight beams, it has crisscrossed beams. It makes it more sturdy than just straight beams. Fat cells also tend to be larger in women, further contributing to the bumpy appearance of cellulite.

This crisscrossing of men’s septa means they are stronger and less susceptible to collapsing under pressure and less likely to store larger quantities of fat.  Cellulite is formed when fat cells break from and push against the skin and cause a bumpy dimpling look on the outside.

MYTH: Exercise a 100 percent fix!

Exercise Does help but it is not a solve-all solution. Using your muscles helps increase muscles which helps control fat cells.  If fat cells shrink it will help reduce cellulite but there is no special exercise to reduce cellulite. Physical activity especially strength training will help. You want to improve your body composition (fat percentage) to improve it.

But remember it won't solve everything and that doesn't need to discourage you! I know plenty of women who exercise every day VERY hard and eat clean but still have some. I know for those friends and myself I try to imagine what it would be like if they/I didn't exercise at all. If you look at it that way you feel proud of what you can do!

FACT: Factors that truly effect Cellulite:

Poor diet/Yo-Yo Dieting

Lack of physical activity



Total Body Fat

Genetics/Thickness and color of skin- This is a huge factor. If your mother and sisters have it most likely you will too.


So the best answer to improve cellulite is to control the factors above that help cause it. Some of those we don’t have control over like Genetics, but we can improve the other items

Stop YO-YO dieting and just eat balanced. It's why I LOVE macros. I have the freedom to choose my foods and eat balanced. Also watch your soy intake.. tofu, soy protein powders, soy latte, etc have a lot of estrogen.

Exercise- As mentioned this does help. Changing your body’s composition will really help reduce cellulite. Resistance training builds muscle which will change your body's composition fast than plan cardio due to your metabolism being elevated longer afterward.

 Hormones- Sometimes we can’t control these but do your best to get them checked often. Eat balanced diets, read your packages (Foods have added hormones ex. milk) and they can be packed in plastics and Styrofoam, mimic estrogen. Read your beauty and hygiene labels as well. Some use an artificial estrogen called paraben. Paraben is a common preservative used in soap, shampoo, lotion, and cosmetics.

I have cellulite. I noticed an increase when I got pregnant and I work very hard after to help it decrease after but it's never been totally gone. When I sit certain ways it appears again! My sisters are all VERY active and they all have a little bit too.

At some point, you have to do your best and then learn to love yourself. I hope this info helps and also stops you from wasting your money on products that claim to fix it. Just move your body, improve your diet, and check your hormones often is the best way to reduce it!


Women's International

Medical News Today




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