Cellulite is the lumpy substance commonly found on the thighs, stomach, and butt. You may have heard people say it looks like “cottage cheese.” Cellulite is actually a fancy name for collections of fat that push against the connective tissue beneath a person’s skin. This makes the surface of the skin pucker and look lumpy.
You can check to see if you have cellulite by pinching the skin around your upper thigh. If it looks a bit lumpy, you probably have it. If you do have cellulite, you’re definitely not alone: Most girls and women — and some men — have cellulite.
Several things influence whether a person has cellulite and how much they have. Your genes, your sex, the amount of fat on your body, your age, and the thickness of your skin are all associated with the amount of cellulite you have or how visible it is.
It doesn’t matter what causes cellulite, there aren’t any miracle products, treatments, or medicines that can make it go away. Some “treatments” may temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite. They won’t last, though. For example, fancy salon treatments use deep massaging to puff up the skin. That can make cellulite look a little better for a while.
Liposuction (surgery to remove fat) and mesotherapy (injection of drugs into cellulite) are expensive. But they’re not very effective. For example, liposuction is designed to remove deep fat. But cellulite is close to the skin.
Even top models can have cellulite, but if you have it, you probably don’t like it. Almost everyone wishes that something about their body was a bit different. This is particularly true during our teens when our bodies go through all sorts of changes caused by puberty.
If you decide that you want to try to reduce the amount of cellulite you have, the best thing to do is to decrease excess body fat. If you think that you are overweight (and your doctor agrees), eat fewer calories and exercise more.
An exercise routine that combines aerobic exercise with strength training is the best weapon against cellulite. In the meantime, if you want to conceal your cellulite, try using a self-tanning product. Cellulite tends to be a little bit less noticeable on darker skin.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2013