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What is Cellulite?

Cellulite is a skin condition with which many people are familiar. Although it is not harmful to your health, and most medical professionals consider it a normal concern, some people are unhappy with their cellulite and seek treatment to get rid of it.

This guide looks a little closer into what cellulite is, what the causes are behind it and what can be done to reduce its appearance. The article also explores how Coolsculpting® can be used as a method of treatment.

What is cellulite?

Cellulite is a cosmetic condition that affects 80-90% of post-pubertal women and, sometimes, men. Characterised by dimpled skin that is often likened to orange peel or cottage cheese, it can occur anywhere on the body but is most common in areas where fat is stored, such as the stomach, hips, thighs and buttocks. The dimples caused by cellulite can vary in their size and density of occurrence.

Cellulite is scientifically referred to as edematous fibrosclerotic panniculopathy, gynoid lipodystrophy, or adiposis edematosa. Sometimes, it graded according to its appearance; the highest grade being the constant appearance of cellulite, whether standing or lying down to a lower grade, where the cellulite disappears when standing.

These classifications also reflect the depth of the depressions and the degree to which the skin appears to drape.

What happens in the body to cause cellulite?

Cellulite is a type of fat storage. It differs in its appearance because when these fat cells expand, they push against the skin and pull down on bands of connective tissue, which are running between the top layers of skin and deeper tissue within the body. This force leads to an uneven skin surface, and dimpling can occur. Normal-sized fat cells have plenty of room to reside between this connective tissue, but enlarged cells create this pressure that leads to bulges and pockets of varying size and depth.

Why do I get cellulite?

The reasons why some people are more likely to get cellulite than others are not fully understood. We know that it is more common in women, due to how they store their fat. Other factors may also contribute to its occurrence:

Genetics, age and hormones

Genetics are believed to play a role in the prevalence of cellulite, as they determine skin structure and texture, and body type.

Lower levels of hormones, such as estrogen, can cause fat cells to enlarge. Hormonal factors and age are also likely to affect the blood circulation to the area. A lower circulation leads to reduced collagen production, making fat deposits more visible.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle are often significant contributors to cellulite production. Excessive intake of foods, high in fats, salts and preservatives, have been linked to the development of cellulite, alongside leading a sedentary lifestyle.

Alcohol consumption, which causes dehydration, can promote the improper storage of fat. Furthermore, the increased levels of free radicals in the body, caused by smoking, have been found to impair circulation and accelerate cellulite progression.

What can I do to reduce my cellulite?

Taking care of your body inside and out is the best way to avoid and reduce any cellulite you have. Being slim does not necessarily prevent cellulite. However, maintaining a healthy body weight may help minimise its appearance.

Although cellulite in itself is considered to be harmless, if it is a result of excess fat storage, then there are the associated risks with being overweight, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. If excess fat storage is a predominant cause of cellulite, then reaching a healthy body weight, via a good-quality diet and regular activity should be the first step. Losing weight may also help to reduce cellulite, but rapid weight loss or yo-yo dieting can cause loose skin, making the condition more noticeable.

Replace processed foods with fresh, nutritionally dense ingredients that are higher in fibre, lean protein and vitamins to avoid excess fat storage. Shaping the body with targeted toning exercises may also make cellulite less apparent, as stronger muscles give the appearance of a more even skin tone.

Other tips to improve the appearance of cellulite include, quitting smoking and avoiding dehydration by limiting the amount of alcohol you drink.

Finally, take care of your skin on the outside by using sunscreen, when needed. Many people also consider skin exfoliation when looking to get rid of cellulite. Although exfoliating has not been proved to reduce cellulite directly, it does create smoother-looking skin, which can improve its appearance.

What treatments are effective at getting rid of cellulite?

Cellulite can be a stubborn condition, and, despite best efforts, can be difficult to lose. Although it is considered to be more of a cosmetic issue than a medical one, cellulite can affect individuals' self-esteem. With a negative body image, quality of life could be compromised, so looking at treatment options may be beneficial.

For more stubborn areas of cellulite, there is a range of treatments in the UK that you may come across:

Liposuction and invasive therapies

When looking for cellulite treatments, it is recommended that you speak with a medical professional to determine what is right for you before undergoing any procedures. Some procedures, such as liposuction, are invasive and can lead to complications, without the guarantee that they will achieve the desired result.

Cellulite creams

A quick search on Google will bring up thousands of results for creams to help improve cellulite. Coffee or caffeine is a common ingredient in the creams; the idea being that it promotes blood circulation to the area and acts as a diuretic.

Retinol is another favoured ingredient, aiming to penetrate the skin and increase collagen production to make the skin thicker and reduce the appearance of cellulite. Unfortunately, although these creams may improve the condition of the skin, none have yet been proven to be effective in getting rid of the dimples associated with cellulite.

Can Coolsculpting® be used to treat cellulite?

Coolsculpting®, also known as Cryolipolysis®, is an FDA-cleared procedure for targeted fat removal. The localised removal of fat can help to reduce the appearance of cellulite.

How does Coolsculpting® work?

Coolsculpting® is a non-invasive procedure that works by freezing fat cells that cause cellulite in a targeted area. This method destroys the fat cells, which are then naturally removed by the body's inflammatory processes.

Developed from over twenty years of research, Coolsculpting® has become the leading non-invasive treatment for the removal of stubborn areas of fat with over eight million procedures completed worldwide.

What can I expect from a Coolsculpting® procedure?

Before receiving a Coolsculpting® treatment, all patients attend an initial one-to-one consultation with a medical professional, who will explain in-depth how the procedure works and what to expect. They will also establish if Coolsculpting® is suitable for you, and, if so, begin to devise a customised treatment plan.

The Coolsculpting® procedure uses a vacuum device, which is applied to the skin and used to pull the targeted area of cellulite carefully inside. Freezing temperatures are then used to destroy the fat cells inside the device. During the procedure, some patients report feeling an unusual tugging sensation, as the area of cellulite is pulled into the applicator. The freezing temperatures are also felt on the skin as the area numbs.

Any pain is mild, and there may be small amounts of redness and swelling afterwards. However, as the procedure is non-surgical, most patients are able to return to their daily lives quickly.

What results can I expect from using Coolsculpting® to reduce my cellulite?

Coolsculpting® has been found to provide a significant fat loss in targeted areas. Reduction in fat storage in these stubborn areas can also help improve the appearance of cellulite. These results normally show within two to six months.

Using Coolsculpting® to remove fat cells, which may be causing the appearance of cellulite, is permanent, and with a healthy lifestyle, results will be maintained. The before and after pictures in our gallery illustrate how Coolsculpting® has helped to get rid of cellulite in previous patients.

How do I find out more about Coolsculpting®?

Visit one of the many Coolsculpting® clinics located across the UK to find out more about the procedure. You can also easily book an initial appointment to help you decide if it is the right cellulite treatment for you.

Use our clinic locator to find a clinic.

†Based on HCP tracking market research in the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Brazil, China and Australia (n=526), and global market research of the overall body shaping and skin tightening market  

* Patients may require more than one treatment to reach desired outcome.

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