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, and dehydration.
No existing treatments including weight loss, exercise, massages, wraps, creams, supplements, or surgery has yet been shown to get rid of cellulite once you have it. 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 doctors consider it 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 with plenty of fluids
Exercising regularly to keep muscles toned and bones strong
Maintaining a healthy weight (no yo-yo dieting)
Khan MH, Victor F, Rao B, Sadick NS. Treatment of cellulite: Part I. Pathophysiology. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Mar;62(3):361-70.
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.
Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.