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All Puckered Out: What Really Works (and Doesn't) to Get Rid of Cellulite

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Why Your Butt Is Bumpy

Cellulite is sneaky. Even the experts don't agree on the reason it suddenly appears. Some derms say that cellulite is due to poor circulation in the skin covering your behind, your thighs and the back of your upper arms. They believe that the capillaries and blood vessels that bring nutrients to the skin there begin to deteriorate and leak lymphatic fluid into your fat cells, which get engorged. These fat cells cluster together, poofed up with liquid, and move toward the surface of the skin, causing the despised lumps and bumps.

To make matters more blobby, the health of the skin itself deteriorates in this scenario, says FITNESS advisory board member Howard Murad, MD, a dermatologist in Los Angeles and the author of The Cellulite Solution, who is a proponent of the circulation theory. That, combined with declining amounts of collagen -- a protein that gives skin its structure -- as we age, causes our skin to slacken and become weaker, making any engorged fat cells even more visible.

The trouble is, there's not much reliable scientific data behind this rationale, says Molly Wanner, MD, an instructor in dermatology at Harvard Medical School. Yet it's the basis for many popular treatments, including endermologie, in which your fat is vigorously squished and rolled in a machine that supposedly increases circulation and removes stored fat. Numerous treatments, at $100 a pop, are recommended. Ka-ching!

"There is a lot of fiction and marketing out there," says Neil Sadick, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, who has conducted much of the available research on cellulite and its causes. He and a number of doctors discount poor circulation as a cause and instead point to what MRI and biopsy studies show: that cellulite is a structural problem in the layer of skin called the dermis, which lies under the epidermis, or the skin that we see. Below the dermis is a layer of fat -- held in place by a collagen barrier called the subcutaneous dermal junction -- as well as the tissue, or septae, which are wrapped around the fat cells.

In men, those septa threads are crisscrossed, a bit like mesh, helping to hold the fat down where it belongs. In women, however, the septae wrap around small groups of fat cells in a more vertical fashion. This means that the clusters of squeezed-together fat cells can more easily migrate up into the dermis, creating the lumps you see in cellulite. Gain weight and you've got bigger fat cells, all straining to be free. Think of a quilted ski jacket with the septae as the stitching that makes the squares. The less stuffing you have in each square, the flatter your square is. If you stuff double or triple the amount of down in the squares, the stitching becomes strained and each square looks more distinct. That's basically what's going on in your butt. Okay, my butt. "When fat accumulates between these septae, the fat layer expands, which in turn expands the pockets, and your skin gets that quilted-mattress appearance," explains Patricia Farris, MD, a dermatologist in New Orleans.

Adding to all the fun, waning levels of collagen cause the subcutaneous dermal junction -- the layer that is supposed to hold the fat where it belongs -- to weaken. "That means the fat cells are even more likely to wiggle free," Dr. Sadick says.

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weightloss253 wrote:

To help reverse the effects of cellulite you need to remove as much saturated fat from your diet is possible, this means no more deep-fried food or take-away foods. It you should also avoid alcoholic beverages. To help remove the toxins it is recommended that you eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, and help flush out the toxins by drinking water.CHECK OUT -- http://tinyurl.com/qfrnf5t

3/2/2014 09:48:44 PM Report Abuse
only1golda wrote:

I've always been told and believed that I would never be able to loose the cellulite. In the last few months I've discovered that to be untrue. Through weight lifting and eliminating some foods from my diet, the little dimples on the side and back of my thighs are GONE!

11/20/2013 04:57:01 PM Report Abuse
nan.ivins wrote:

I think we need to focus on being healthy and learn to love our bodies. Every woman gets cellulite and only airbrushing really gets rid of it. This procedure is temporary, expensive and someone I know said it is very painful too. I would rather spend that money spent on a trainer, gym membership and a health diet. I do like to use a toning lotion with a light self-tanner ... a little tan helps improve the appearance of my legs.

7/14/2013 07:52:28 AM Report Abuse
jackdaripper84 wrote:

I used to have cellulite as well. I lost close to 50 lbs over the last year and a half and have kept it off for over a year now. The key for me was cutting out a lot of sugar (refined, juices, sauces, etc). Really watch out. If I do have anything with sugar, I try to keep it down to 25 grams a day which is still a lot. I also started doing a lot of toning exercises. Trail running, a large variety of push ups, pull ups, and leg lifts. Discipline is your only enemy.

7/12/2013 04:06:21 PM Report Abuse
my3sonswv wrote:

Not sure how I feel after having read this. Relieved that even models can get it, not just "regular" people. Sad that the tip to get rid of it cost around $5,000.00. Come on who can afford that, get real. Don't waste my time with an article then not give a more practical tip to treat the problem.

7/12/2013 12:53:34 PM Report Abuse

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