Cellulite is a condition that affects both men and women. It is caused by fat deposits pushing against the connective tissues under the skin, tethered down by the connective fibers that are attached to the muscles. It causes the skin to have a dimpled, lumpy appearance.
It is far more common in women than in men because of the difference in structure of fat tissue and connective tissue in both genders. The fat tissue and connective tissue tend to be aligned in parallel in women, whereas they tend to be in a criss-cross manner in men.
During the process of aging or when there is an increase in fatty deposits, the connective tissues will weaken, and fat tissues find their way between the connective tissues and emerge just below the skin surface, giving rise to a lumpy, orange-peel appearance.
Although men can also have cellulite, it is more difficult for fat cells to find their way between the connective tissues because they are aligned in a criss-cross manner.
We speak to a renowned aesthetic doctor in Singapore, Dr. Siew Tuck Wah, as he tells us more about some common myths and truths about cellulite and how to treat it.
MYTH: Cellulite is caused by toxins in your body
It is common to see over-the-counter products that claim to purge toxins from the body to reduce cellulite. The truth is, cellulite is formed when underlying fatty deposits push through layers of connective tissues under the skin. This is largely caused by lack of exercise, poor diet, hormonal fluctuation, and poor muscle tone. “Toxins” has nothing to do with the formation of cellulite on your body.
FACT: Cellulite becomes more visible with age
As we grow older, our hormone levels fluctuate and as we already understood, hormonal changes have a direct impact on how cellulite presents itself in your body. As women age, estrogen level decreases, causing poorer blood circulation in your lower body. With poor blood circulation, less collagen is produced, causing the connective tissues in the body to weaken.
MYTH: Skinny people don’t have cellulite
This is a common misconception that most people have. Cellulite does not only happen to oversized women. Skinny people can also have cellulite. However, being overweight does make cellulite more visible on your body. This is because the more fat you have, the more it is likely to put stress on the connective tissues.
Cellulite happens to women of all shapes and sizes. They can eat clean and work out regularly, but some women can still have cellulite due to their genetic makeup.
FACT: Regular exercise helps to reduce cellulite
Exercising regularly does not help to reduce cellulite per se. However, exercising to tone up the muscles and improve blood circulation in your body can potentially strengthen the connective tissues and increase collagen production.
Over time, with less fat deposits and stronger connective tissues, cellulite tend to become less visible.
MYTH: Cellulite creams are effective
There are no topical creams – prescription or over-the-counter – that have been shown to eliminate cellulite.
If you somewhat see some results after you apply, it is likely because these so-called anti-cellulite creams contain moisturizing compounds that plump up the skin to camouflage the lumps, making the skin look smoother.
But these lumps don’t permanently go away. They are just hidden from sight – temporarily until the moisturizing effect wears off.
MYTH: You can never get rid of cellulite
To recap how cellulite is formed, they are fat deposits that push against the connective fibres under your skin. So in order to reduce the appearance of cellulite, doctors need to either plump up the skin or reduce the fatty deposits or push the fat deposits out of the pockets of the connective tissues.
Dermal fillers can be used to plump up the skin and smoothen out the uneven skin texture. For better results, collagen fillers such as Radiesse can be used to plump up the dents. At the same time, Radiesse is also capable of stimulating collagen production in the body to strengthen the connective tissues in cellulite-plagued parts.
This is not a permanent solution, but it gives an immediate improvement in appearance with minimal downtime. Results are expected to last for about 2 years.
People with excess body fat can opt for a fat freeze treatment. It works by selectively freezing the fat tissue without affecting the surrounding healthy skin tissue. The cold crystallises the fat cells and causes them to undergo cell death.
After that, acoustic shockwave therapy can be applied on the skin to repeatedly apply constant pressure on the treated area. By repeating this treatment several times, it disrupts the fibrous tissue responsible for the uneven appearance on the skin. At the same time, the shockwave pushes the fat deposits out of the connective tissues.