Cellulite (pronounced cell-u-leet) is the visible effect of excess fat deposits, the unsightly orange peel or cottage cheese-like lumps just under the skin's surface that usually appear on the hips, thighs and buttocks. The skin in these areas is typically dry, will bruise easily and may have stretch marks and roughness to it. Broken blood vessels and varicose veins may also be present with this condition, which affects about 8 in 10 women. It affects more women than men and varies in intensity.
Women of all shapes, sizes, ages and weights can have cellulite, and every woman has the tendency to develop some degree of it as soon as fat begins to accumulate in the subcutaneous layer of the skin. Normal levels of fat won't cause the appearance of dimpled skin, because there's enough room for fat deposits. Once that layer becomes overloaded, however, look out!
Do you have it? Take your thumb and index finger and with one or both hands, grasp an area you think might have it and give it a squeeze. If the surface of the skin is rippled, that's probably it. You might also notice that the skin in this area is more sensitive.
This condition is not to be confused with Cellulitis, which is a term used for inflammation of connective tissue, is the fat that's very difficult to lose. Probably because it's more than just fat. Water and waste products are also trapped in the connective tissue, forming those lumpy pockets which act like sponges and can bulge, showing up as ripples on the skin.
Why is this condition present? Some of the contributing factors are a sedentary lifestyle and/or lack of exercise, pollution, tension/stress, fatigue and poor eating habits. This all leads to a sluggish digestive system and poor circulation. It can "select" areas that are already prone to poor circulation and once it takes hold, it can slow down the circulation even more. Hormonal changes can also bring it on.
Thighs are typically the most susceptible area. They'll develop it faster, as the upper thighs bulge, the insides of the thighs sag and the backs of thighs show rippling. It may help to avoid crossing your legs and sitting for long periods of time. Hips and buttocks come in second place. These areas, much like the thighs, just don't receive enough exercise and they get sat on a lot, which can flatten and widen the area causing it to seem out of proportion. The waist, back, knees and upper arms round out (no pun intended) the rest of the areas that cellulite tends to invade.
While it typically doesn't become an issue until the years preceding puberty, it can appear at any age. It is sometimes mistaken for obesity, but the two are not related because it can also appear in women who are thin and lean. You can't really inherit it, but the tendency to develop it may be hereditary. Men don't usually experience this condition (lucky them!) because women's bodies have more fatty tissue than men's do.