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Skin Type: Cellulite

Updated: Dec 22, 2018

Little is known about what causes cellulite, but we give our breakdown below.

Cellulite is a term for the formation of lumps and dimples in the skin. Little is known about what causes cellulite. It involves fibrous connective cords that tether the skin to the underlying muscle, with the fat lying between. As fat cells accumulate, they push up against the skin, while the long, tough cords pull down. This creates an uneven surface that gives a puckered and dimpled appearance to the skin.


Cellulite is much more common in women than in men, due to the different distributions of fat, muscle, and connective tissue. In fact, most women develop some cellulite after puberty.

You can see mild cellulite only if you pinch your skin in an area where you have cellulite, such as your thighs. More-severe cellulite makes the skin appear rumpled and bumpy with areas of peaks and valleys. Cellulite is most common around the thighs and buttocks, but it can be found on the breasts, lower abdomen and upper arms as well.


The causes of cellulite include changes in metabolism, physiology, diet and exercise habits, obesity, sex-specific dimorphic skin architecture, alteration of connective tissue structure, hormonal factors, genetic factors, the microcirculatory system, the extracellular matrix, and subtle inflammatory alterations.

Hormonal factors

Hormones play a dominant role in the formation of cellulite. Estrogen may be the important hormone in the development of cellulite. However, there has been no reliable clinical evidence to support such a claim.


Cellulite is much more common in women than in men, due to the different distributions of fat, muscle, and connective tissue. In fact, most women develop some cellulite after puberty. This is because women's fat is typically distributed in the thighs, hips and buttocks — common areas for cellulite. Cellulite is also more common with aging, when the skin loses elasticity. Weight gain can make cellulite more noticeable, but some lean people have cellulite, as well. It tends to run in families, so genetics might play the biggest role in whether you develop it.

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