Cellulite is fat that collects in pockets just below the surface of the skin. It forms around the hips, thighs, and buttocks. Cellulite deposits cause the skin to look dimpled.
Cellulite may be more visible than fat deeper in the body. Everyone has layers of fat under the skin so even thin people can have cellulite. Collagen fibers that connect fat to the skin may stretch, break down, or pull tight. This allows fat cells to bulge out.
Your genes may play a part in whether or not you have cellulite. Other factors may include:
- Your diet
- How your body burns energy
- Hormone changes
No existing treatments, including weight loss, exercise, massages, wraps, creams, supplements, or surgery, have yet been shown to get rid of cellulite. Liposuction is not recommended for cellulite, and may even make it look worse. New treatments such as laser are being developed for cellulite.
Many people seek treatment for cellulite because they are bothered by how it looks. The problem is not harmful to your health, however. Most health care providers consider cellulite a normal condition for many women and some men.
Tips for avoiding cellulite include:
- Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber
- Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids
- Exercising regularly to keep muscles toned and bones strong
- Maintaining a healthy weight (no yo-yo dieting)
- Not smoking
Burns JL, Blackwell SJ. Plastic surgery. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2007:chap 73.
Katz BE, Hexsel DM, Hexsel CL. Cellulite. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson I, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 38.
Khan MH, Victor F, Rao B, Sadick NS. Treatment of cellulite: Part I. Pathophysiology. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Mar;62(3):361-70. PMID: 20159304 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20159304.
Khan MH, Victor F, Rao B, Sadick NS. Treatment of cellulite: Part II. Advances and controversies. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Mar;62(3):373-84. PMID: 20159305 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20159305.
Rossi AM, Katz BE. A modern approach to the treatment of cellulite. Dermatol Clin. 2014 32(1):51-59. PMID: 24267421 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24267421.
Update Date 12/2/2014
Updated by: Richard J. Moskowitz, MD, dermatologist in private practice, Mineola, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.