Cellulite…and what to do about it

Cellulite, also known as orange peel skin, cottage-cheese skin, or the mattress phenomenon, is a common, harmless skin condition that 80-90% of women will likely experience at some point in their life. Cellulite is characterized by dimpled, bumpy skin. It can make the skin look rumpled with the appearance of ‘peaks’ and ‘valleys’. Cellulite is common in the thighs and buttocks, but can also be present in the breasts, lower abdomen, and upper arms.


There is a 3-grade standardized scale to assess the severity of cellulite:

  • Grade 1, a mild form of cellulite that has an “orange-peel” appearance, between 1 and 4 superficial depressions, and a slightly sagging appearance to the skin.
  • Grade 2, a moderate form of cellulite that has between five and nine medium-depth depressions, cottage-cheese appearance, and moderately sagging appearance to the skin.
  • Grade 3, a severe form of cellulite that has a mattress appearance, 10 or more deep depressions, and a severely sagging appearance to the skin.


Cellulite can occur in men but less commonly than in women. Although the cause of the condition is not definitive, it is likely due to gender differences in fat, muscle, and connective tissue distribution. Women have a vertical arrangement of fat and connective tissue. This specific layering can cause the fat to easily protrude into the connective tissue layer and give the appearance of cellulite. On the other hand, men have a criss-cross arrangement of fat and connective tissue and are less likely to have that same protuberance of fat into the skin. Cellulite may also be due to age, as well as hormones such as estrogen, insulin, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones, and prolactin. Aging causes skin to lose its elasticity and makes it more prone to developing cellulite. There is also speculation that decreasing levels of estrogen as a woman approaches menopause can cause less blood supply to the connective tissue, lower collagen production, and enlarged fat cells.


Genetics may play a role in this skin condition, as there are genes known to aid in cellulite formation — specifically genetic linkage to an individual’s metabolism, distribution of fat under the skin, and circulatory factors that can affect the likelihood of development. However, there are also lifestyle and dietary factors that can contribute to cellulite such as high carbohydrate, fat, and salt intake, low fiber intake, sedentary activity with low levels of exercise.


As cellulite is harmless, seeking treatment is not necessary. However, if you are concerned with the appearance of your skin, speak with your primary care doctor or a skincare specialist. There are also a few home remedies that can be utilized, a promising one being massage therapy. Whether you do it at home or with the help of a professional massage therapist, massage can reduce lymphatic drainage, stretch skin tissue, and stretch out cellulite dimples. Another remedy is bioactive collagen peptide intake. One study had participants take the oral supplement daily for six months, and noted significant improvement in women with both moderate and higher weight. Neora also makes a well-studied product called Firm Body Contour Cream, when used over 60-90 days, dramatically reduces the appearance of cellulite.

Of course, please first consult with your doctor before starting these. And last but not least, drink more water, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy diet. This will facilitate the loss of excess body fat and may naturally reduce the appearance of cellulite.






El Camino Women’s Medical Group offers the latest Minimally Invasive Solutions for gynecologic problems.   Drs. Amy TengErika Balassiano, and Pooja Gupta, all members of AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy) are highly trained and experienced in the field of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery.   Dr. Erika Balassiano has also completed a Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellowship, under the supervision of world-renowned Dr. Camran Nezhat.


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