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What Is Cellulite?

Many celebrities have been the subject of a cellulite picture expose lately. Some of the most envied and beautiful women in Hollywood have had their cellulite secrets exposed on the front cover of celebrity gossip magazines in a magnified picture format. Mischa Barton, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and even the whisper thin Paris Hilton have all been victims of the secret cellulite cam. The photographs reveal not so perfect thighs and rear views with a little dimple action. Who every said being rich, famous, and beautiful was easy never found themselves defending their derrières to the world.

It should be obvious by the celebrity members of the cellulite guild that weight is not the cause of cellulite. If weight was the trigger, then super skinny Paris Hilton would never have made entry into the celebrity cellulite (not so anonymous) club. Mention cellulite and overweight bodies immediately come to mind. Visions of Big Mac meals and hot fudge sundae overload dance through the air. Though many overweight bodies do sport the cottage cheese badge of dishonor, many slim bodies also bear the cellulite burden. So if weight is not the cause of cellulite, what is?

Before discussing the cause of cellulite, it is helpful to know what exactly cellulite is. Cellulite is a term used to describe the dimpling of skin usually found on the thighs, butt, and sometimes abdomen. The skin takes on the lumpy appearance of cottage cheese or an orange peel. Cellulite develops mainly in women, though there are rare cases of men developing the condition. Statistics indicate that as much as 90% of women will develop cellulite at one time or another in their lives. The development of cellulite usually occurs at times of significant hormonal changes. Puberty, menopause, and pregnancy are the times most commonly associated with cellulite development. Women taking birth control pills may also find cellulite emerging.

Cellulite forms in one of the three layers of the fat underneath the skin. The subcutaneous fat layer has strands of linked tissue holding it. This structure can best be described as comparable to the tightly drawn strings on a tennis racket. The fat cells lie in the upright chambers formed between the linked tissues. The tissue strands which hold the fat are inflexible. As the fat cells swell and bulge, from various reasons, they push upwards towards the surface of the skin. Since the tissue strands do not adjust to allow the fat cells to spread horizontally, the fat pushes upwards instead. The dimpling is generally attributable to the hills of fat cells bulging while the areas in between lie flat.

The exact causes of cellulite have not yet been determined. There are many credible theories as to why cellulite occurs, though. Poor fluid intake and/or poor water metabolism are believed to be contributing factors in the development of cellulite. Water helps keep your skin hydrated and plump; ensuring your skin will provide even ‘coverage’ of the fat cells beneath. But when there isn’t enough fluid, the skin will lie slack instead, revealing the cottage cheese like cellulite beneath the surface. Diet is another likely culprit. Diets high in fat, salt and carbohydrates with little fiber has been linked to the formation of cellulite. This type of diet will plump up those fat cells while the while depleting the water reserves.

Besides diet, lifestyle is believed to be a significant factor in cellulite development. Smoking can add yet another strike to the many already against it. There is a potential link between smoking and cellulite. Not surprisingly, a sedentary lifestyle is a likely cause of cellulite. If it isn’t a cause, it definitely worsens the appearance of cellulite. Exercise is the white knight of cellulite reduction. Exercise tames the fat cells; reducing the size and preventing the bulge which forms the cellulite dimpling. Exercise also promotes blood flow. Poor blood flow is believed to be another aggravating cause of cellulite. As strange as it may sound, even underwear has been blamed for the cellulite curse. Tight underwear could restrict blood flow and amplify cellulite stricken skin.

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