What causes cellulite?


We know what cellulite looks like, but what actually causes it? Dr. Susan Van Dyke explains the causes of cellulite and discusses if postmenopausal women are still prone to this skin condition.

Transcript Cellulite is complicated and so are the causes. We really have no clear idea of exactly what causes it, although there are major and minor contributors to the cause of cellulite. For instance, why do only women get cellulite? Well, estrogen is probably the answer. Estrogen has the effect of making fat very stable, particularly around the hips and buttocks, you know, good for us if we are starving, we have nice, stable fat, but that also has the effect of causing dimpling and men don’t seem to have that. When you think of the fat layer, there’s actually two fat layers – we have deep fat and superficial fat, and it’s the superficial fat layer that gets all dimpled. In women, sorry to say, we have a much thicker superficial fat layer even when we are skinny. So causes of cellulite, estrogen would be one. A lot of people talk about circulation. It is thought that from having a sedentary lifestyle, for instance sitting all day or standing all day, it is inhibiting some of the circulation in that girdle area and that contributes to cellulite. So people with those occupations may have more cellulite. Other causes – salt was brought up as an issue and salt may in fact make your cellulite look worse because of fluid retention. However, it really isn’t a cause, it’s just a minor factor. Pregnancy, increase in hormones, prolactin and insulin go up in pregnancy so cellulite goes up in pregnancy. Diabetes – insulin can cause increase in fat deposits again, cellulite being the result, and there are a number of medical conditions that can also contribute to it. Cellulite is not only a problem of the young woman. Postmenopausal women, these are women who no longer have estrogen, still have a cellulite problem. So why is that? Well, just because you don’t have estrogen it doesn’t reverse what’s been going on all your life and secondly, as you get older unfortunately the skin gets looser and laxer and that allows more out-pouching of fat, that allows more of this what we call herniation of fat and rippling. So as you get older you can also have two issues – you have the cellulite and you have the skin laxity, which kind of leads in to some of the treatments for cellulite.
meet theexpert
  • Dr. Susan Van Dyke

    Dr. Susan Van Dyke Dermatologist Dr. Susan Van Dyke is a cosmetic dermatologist. In 1995, Van Dyke Laser & Skin became one of the first exclusively Cosmetic Dermatology practices in the world. She is a sought after guest expert for television, radio, print and e-magazines. more about this expert »

This month: cold prevention