A woman squeezing the skin at the side of her right thigh

What is cellulite?

Cellulite is characterised by the appearance of lumpy and dimpled skin on the thighs, hips, buttocks and other areas of the body where there are areas of subcutaneous fat – the layer of fat that lies just under the skin. It’s more common in women due to the higher distribution of fat in the female body.

There are three categories of cellulite:

  • Hard cellulite : The skin is firm and can be painful when touched.
  • Soft cellulite : The skin has a spongey appearance is not painful when touched
  • Edematous cellulite : This is among the most complex types of cellulite to treat. This is caused by poor circulation and is aggravated by fluid retention.


Cellulite is more likely to affect us as we age. However, it can be removed or become less visible through lifestyle choices and treatments.

Symptoms of cellulite

Cellulite is known for dimpled and lumpy areas of skin. The severity of the cellulite affects if the cellulite is visible all the time or only when pinching the skin.

Medical tests to diagnose cellulite

A specialist can diagnose cellulite by looking at the patient's skin in a physical examination.

What are the causes of cellulite?

Cellulite appears to be caused by the relationship between the connective tissues in the skin and the subcutaneous fat . When fat cells protrude into the layer of skin, this creates the well-known bumpy and dimpled look of cellulite.

Some factors that contribute to the likelihood of developing cellulite:

  • Age (skin loses elasticity)
  • Being female
  • Genes
  • Diet
  • Being overweight (though it can in people who aren’t overweight too)
  • Having low muscle tone
  • Pregnancy
  • Frequently sitting or standing still for long periods
  • Smoking

Can it be prevented?

In general, it’s important to maintain circulation in the areas of the body with higher fat distributions (buttocks, thighs, hips, arms). This can be done via exercise or movement wherever possible, so if you have a job that requires sitting or standing still for a long time, find reasons to move. You can also massage the areas. Furthermore, cut down on refined, processed and artificial foods – these foods are high in fat and sugar which are believed to contribute to cellulite.

Treatment for cellulite

Cosmetic/medical treatments are:

Cellulite treatments should be combined with a healthy diet and regular physical exercise.

Which specialist treats cellulite?

Dermatologists specialise in skin disorders, including cellulite. Many plastic /cosmetic surgeons also provide treatments for cellulite.

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