Why Cellulite Happens

Beneath the skin are columns of fibrous tissue that are surrounded by fat cells. “When these columns, known as septi, become imbalanced and the fat cells begin to bulge through the columns (the columns don’t stretch to accommodate the expanding fat cells), cellulite arises,” says Great Neck, NY, plastic surgeon Kevin Tehrani, MD. In men, this connective tissue runs diagonally and smooth, but, in women, it runs vertically. “Because of its nature, it allows small pockets of fat to push up on the tissue, which is what gives the skin a dimpled look.” Even if you are thin and maintain a healthy weight, there is no guarantee that cellulite won’t form since cellulite has more to do with the composition of the fat cells, collagen and surrounding tissue as opposed to how much you weigh. Other factors that are linked to the formation of cellulite include:

Hormones: Female hormones, like estrogen, are associated with cellulite formation and naturally direct the body to store extra fat in areas like the butt, legs, thighs, hips and even stomach. When hormone levels are elevated—like during pregnancy and perimenopause—cellulite can appear to be at its worst.

Genetics: Cellulite carries a very strong genetic component. Chances are, if your mother has or had cellulite on her thighs and legs, you probably will, too.

Diet: Some experts believe that eating too much of any one fat-, carb- or salt-heavy food, and not incorporating enough fiber into your diet, can put you at a higher risk for cellulite since these foods can get stored in the fat cells and cause the cell to increase in size.

Toxin buildup: The body stores toxins to some degree, and certain systems do their best to purge these toxins from the body. But, when there is an overload of toxins, they tend to get stored in and around the fat cells, forcing bulging to occur more than it normally would.

Lifestyle choices: Smoking and not working out are believed to encourage fatty deposits to gather and stay put, making them harder to eliminate.

Clothing: Regularly wearing pants and underwear that are too tight can constrict blood flow. Improper blood flow can decrease the rate at which blood circulates throughout the body, resulting in a buildup of toxins. 

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