Summertime will be here before you know it! But if you’re like most women, you’re probably dreading showing off your cellulite. You know the stuff — that lumpy, cottage cheese or orange peel dimpled skin that never quite seems to go away with weight loss. But don’t worry – there are things you can do to get rid of cellulite and feel confident in your skin again. Here’s what you need to know about cellulite and how to get rid of it.
What is Cellulite?
While it affects the skin, cellulite isn’t a skin condition. In fact, it’s not a medical condition at all. Cellulite is simply a term to describe aesthetic changes in the surface of the skin. It’s a symptom of imbalance in the body, such as chronic inflammation. The altered appearance comes from structural changes in the subcutaneous tissue (the fat directly beneath the skin).
Essentially, connective tissue bands form beneath the skin, giving the skin a puckered, dimpled, or cottage cheese look. These bands pull the fat under the skin downward, creating an uneven surface. It’s the body’s way of adapting to inflammation or imbalance. While not harmful, it’s certainly frustrating.
Cellulite is very common – 80 to 90 percent of teens and women are affected by it, whether they suffer from obesity or not. That’s why cellulite and obesity are not one and the same. In obesity, there are enlarged fat cells and increased fat tissue. Cellulite involves changes in the skin structure, fat cells, and circulation.
Some researchers have found an association between cellulite and chronic venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency is a condition in which the blood vessels have difficulty sending blood from your extremities (hands and feet) back to your heart. Both conditions have similar symptoms, including spider or varicose veins, pain with touch, and decreased skin temperature in that area. In other words, poor circulation is part of the problem.
The skin also has a part to play, as its thickness determines the visibility of cellulite. Supporting collagen, the “glue” that holds us together, can help minimize the appearance of cellulite. Learn more about feeding your skin by reading this article.
Who Gets Cellulite?
There are certain “risk factors” for cellulite that increase your chances of developing it. Being a woman is one of the main ones. Beyond that, there are:
- Weight gain/increased body fat
- Systemic inflammation
- Poor eating habits
- Low muscle tone
- Aging – Causing a loss in elasticity
- Decreased blood flow
- Hormonal imbalance – It may worsen with elevated estrogens
- Menopause – Low estrogen can also be a problem due to reduced circulation and declining collagen levels.
- A genetic predisposition (HIF1A and ACE gene variations)
Some of these go together, like weight gain and low muscle tone, and menopause and aging. Weight gain and low muscle tone may also be associated with decreased blood flow. With these risk factors as potential underlying causes, you can see why many topical remedies aren’t that helpful.
Common Cellulite Treatments
When women first start noticing cellulite, they often begin with topical lotions or creams. These creams usually include ingredients like caffeine or retinol (synthetic vitamin A). Creams don’t remove cellulite; they only temporarily smooth the skin, reducing the bumpy appearance. The fat cells are still there beneath the skin.
If these home treatments don’t work to satisfaction, women often turn to their healthcare provider for medical advice on cellulite. They may also seek out a dermatologist or plastic surgeon for more advanced treatment options.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several medical procedures for the treatment of cellulite, including Cellfina®, Cellulaze®, and Qwo®. However, Qwo was just pulled from the shelves at the end of 2022 for causing skin bruising and discoloration.
Here’s where our illustration of the Fireman vs. the Carpenter comes in. Fireman doctors (conventional medicine) address cellulite with their usual tools: the axe and the hose. They cut out fibrous bands or fat deposits or turn to a medication to address the “fire” –the health complaint. However, using these tools only achieves cosmetic improvements. It’s not addressing the underlying issues that led to cellulite.
Here are some additional methods of removing cellulite the conventional medical way:
- Radiofrequency or Laser Treatments – These treatments destroy fibrous bands under the skin with laser or radio waves. Cellulaze® is an example of laser treatment for cellulite. The treatment lasts about six months to a year.
- Liposuction – This is a cosmetic procedure done to remove fat under the skin.
- Subcision – A surgical procedure called subcision separates fibrous bands beneath the skin to smooth it. This treatment lasts about two or three years.
- Acoustic Wave Therapy – This treatment uses sound waves to break up fat deposits that make up cellulite. It can also help stimulate collagen production. This therapy usually takes several sessions to see improvement.
- Precise Tissue Release – Vacuum-assisted precise tissue release cuts excess tissue and fills out the skin. Cellfina is an invasive procedure that uses a microblade to remove the connective tissue, causing skin dimpling. It could last up to two years.
- Endermologie – Endermologie is a French spa treatment that combines deep tissue massage with a vacuum-like device. It breaks up fatty tissue and increases circulation in that area.
These treatments are temporary and must be repeated to maintain the results. They also tend to be expensive and may have unpleasant side effects… not unlike most treatments by conventional medicine!
There are some cellulite reduction techniques that even the American Academy of Dermatology doesn’t recommend. One of these is mesotherapy, which involves drug injections into the cellulite. Another is cryolipolysis (“CoolSculpting”), which freezes fat to reduce cellulite.
The Carpenter doctor approach looks at what factors led to the cellulite in the first place. You cannot just address the look of the skin. The imbalances that created cellulite are still there and may lead to other health effects down the road.
Potential Causes of Cellulite
What causes cellulite? Like every other health condition or dis-ease, cellulite comes from a combination of genetic predisposition and physical, chemical, and emotional stressors. At The Wellness Way, we categorize these stressors as Trauma, Toxins, and Thoughts. These “3 T’s” set us up for chronic inflammation
Trauma doesn’t have to come from a catastrophic physical or emotional event. It can simply be a case of crossing your legs daily, which creates trauma in the spine, nervous system, and connective tissue. Cellulite worsens with standing, pinching, and muscular contractions. Another common trauma to the body is mouth-breathing. Breathing through the mouth rather than the nose leads to higher inflammation, lower nitric oxide, and detrimental changes in the body overall. Low nitric oxide can cause decreased blood flow, increasing your chances of developing cellulite.
Toxins that may lead to cellulite include all things that negatively impact the liver. Liver toxicity can come from many things, including a poor diet high in sugar, multiple medications, exposure to toxic chemicals, infections, nutrient deficiencies… or a combination of these things. Ultimately, liver toxicity can lead to poor fat breakdown and vitamin A deficiency, depleting the skin of this vital nutrient. Toxic high blood sugar levels can lower vitamin C, which our bodies need for collagen synthesis.
Thoughts are mental patterns that can cause emotional stress and ultimately create dis-ease in the body. This type of stress can come from work deadlines, relationships, financial problems, and paying too much attention to the news. It may also come from major life changes, including marriage, a new baby, divorce, moving to a new city, and losing a friend or loved one. An overall negative outlook can also contribute to mental and emotional stress. Chronically elevated cortisol from emotional stress can contribute to cellulite.
Potential Solutions to Cellulite
If you’re dealing with cellulite, you’re likely also dealing with a detoxification issue. That’s where liver support comes in. Here are some ideas for supporting the liver while promoting detoxification through other routes, including the skin and the gut.
A healthy diet – While a real food/whole food diet is best for everyone, it’s not the be-all, end-all. A healthy diet may vary from person to person depending on their immune responses to different foods. Lowering inflammation by avoiding your food allergens can help lower water retention, support fat metabolism, and improve tissue repair.
Achieving a healthy weight – Eliminating excess fat in the body can go a long way toward cellulite reduction. But exercise isn’t necessarily the way to get there. Addressing inflammation, gut health, and hormones are a great way to start.
Improving circulation – A key nutrient in supporting healthy circulation as well as skin health is nitric oxide. Learn about nitric oxide by tuning in to this interview with world-renowned nitric oxide expert Dr. Nathan Bryan. Dr. Bryan invented our nitric oxide-promoting supplement, Neo40.
Lymphatic support – Ways to support the lymphatic system include dry brushing, sauna therapy, standing on a vibe plate, and supplementing with herbs like dandelion root and nettle leaf.
Increasing collagen production – Collagen is the “glue” that holds us together. As we age, collagen levels go down. Ways to increase collagen in the body include getting plenty of vitamin C, optimizing your protein levels, and lowering your inflammation. The herb Gotu kola can help stimulate circulation as well as collagen production.
Liver glandular – Liver glandular supplements are freeze-dried and encapsulated whole liver supplements. They are helpful if you’re unable to eat liver meat regularly. Liver and liver glandular supplements contain all the constituents needed for a healthy liver.
Caffeine – Coffee enemas can help detox the liver and increase levels of the master antioxidant glutathione. Some women even report success with using coffee grounds as topical scrubs.
Vitamin A – Vitamin A is essential for thick, healthy skin and can minimize the appearance of cellulite. What’s the best source of dietary vitamin A? Organ meats! If you don’t love eating liver or heart, you can take glandular supplements.
Decreasing stress and cortisol – The release of cortisol in response to stress encourages the buildup of fat beneath the skin. It also weakens collagen, making cellulite more visible.
Hormone balance – Cellulite can be caused by estrogen deficiency or excess, so restoring healthy estrogen levels may help eliminate it.
Swiss Watch Understanding of Cellulite
The main thing to remember is that cellulite, while it affects the look of the skin, is not a skin issue. It’s a body issue. At The Wellness Way, we dig deeper to solve the health challenges others can’t. Cellulite is simply a visible symptom of imbalance and dis-ease. To learn what may be out of balance in your body, reach out to a Wellness Way clinic and get tested. Your Wellness Way practitioner will work with you to create a personalized nutrition program to help your body better break down fats and repair tissue as it was designed to. We do health differently! Contact a Wellness Way clinic today.
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- Cellulite: a review, Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology & Venereology | 10.1046/j.1468-3083.2000.00016.x | DeepDyve
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- Cellulite: a review with a focus on subcision – PMC (nih.gov)
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- Does Vitamin C Deficiency Affect Cognitive Development and Function? – PMC (nih.gov)