Cellulite is a skin condition emerging in 80-90 percent of women after puberty and can negatively affect the quality of life. Cellulite is usually found on abdomen, glute, and hips and forms small holes on the skin surface which resemble the skin of orange. Contrary to popular opinion, cellulite is not exclusive to overweight women. It is prevalent among women with various body weight and lifestyle patterns. Despite being deemed only as an aesthetic imperfection, cellulite is also an illness requiring treatment. The approach of cellulite treatment combines many methods that encompass all factors affecting cellulite growth.
What is the origin of cellulite?
Genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors are key in cellulite formation. The exact mechanism behind the cellulite formation is not yet known, but the correlation between higher estrogen levels and cellulite growth have been noted. Namely, high estrogen levels accelerate the formation of cellulite due to its role in various processes that lead to the formation of skin dimples. Estrogen stimulates lipogenesis (the process of fatty acid formation) and inhibits lipolysis ( the process of fatty acid degradation), both of which lead to adipocyte hypertrophy. Also, hormonal background of cellulite formation is further supported by the fact that most cellulite is formed after puberty and the fact that it is exacerbated during pregnancy, breast-feeding, menstruation and during use of oral contraceptives. Defects in lymph drainage and microvascular circulation are also in relation to cellulite formation. The areas where these processes are diminished are affected with cellulite the most (glute, hips and abdomen). The most recent studies indicate that cellulite is an inflammatory state and the correlation between cellulite and various systemic illnesses has been noted, such as insulin resistance, obesity and cardiovascular disease risk. Despite being prevalent in women of various body shapes and body weight profiles, the exacerbation of cellulite has been noted with body weight growth. During menopause, the condition is worsened due to higher blood vessel permeability and the weakening of blood vessel toning. Collagen and elastin are being synthetized to a lesser extent with aging, which also contributes to dermis’ thickness shrinking.
The treatment of cellulite
Post-inflammatory changes, body-weight growth and lifestyle patterns are the key factors that contribute to cellulite formation, hence the treatment of cellulite uses the combination of treatments which affects various mechanisms of cellulite formation and lifestyle pattern changes.
General therapeutic measures
Lifestyle patterns significantly contribute to the cellulite formation. Alcohol consumption induces lipogenesis, dehydration and higher fat deposition in adipocytes (cells where adipocytes are usually stored in). Smoking, because oxygen is provided less, also slows down the metabolism. Dietary patterns of average women are mostly based on carbohydrates, and protein consumption is inadequate. Nutrition abundant in carbohydrates brings about a sharp surge in insulin which contributes to fat tissue growth. The disorders of digestive system, such as infrequent bowel, also affects cellulite growth – this is why an adequate amount of dietary fibers is recommended, combined with body exercises. Sedentary lifestyle weakens the blood flow and lymph drainage which are also recognized as contributors to cellulite. Furthermore, wearing high-heeled shoes, elastic socks and tight clothing also contributes to worse blood flow and lymph drainage. Deficient water intake also contributes to toxin accumulation in the body and slows down metabolism by inhibiting fat degradation. Dieting and fasting are also shown to be ineffective because of formation or worsening of cellulite. Namely, body is given an information that the food intake is lowered, which causes the food to be distributed to the places that are typically affected by cellulite to store energy in cases of prolonged fasting.
In cellulite treatment, the most accessible formulations are skin formulations. The main compounds of anticellulite skin formulations are methylxanthines (caffeine), retinol, urea, squalene and various plant oils and plant extracts. It is considered that this compounds enact by lowering lipogenesis and enhancing blood flows and lymph drainage. Furthermore, they stimulate the synthesis of collagen and extracellular matrix integrity and lower the inflammation and oxidation, which stimulates lipolysis. It is believed that caffeine affects cellulite by stimulating lipolysis and preventing overabundant fat deposition. Formulations available on the market contain 3% caffeine. Retinoids lower cellulite by thickening the dermis by affecting collagen, inciting angiogenesis and by synthetizing fibrous tissue components. The effect of 0.3% retinol is proven in a research conducted on 20 women. The examined women have worn 0.3% retinol in a period longer than six months and the improvement in the clinical image of cellulite has been noted, compared to the control group. Herbal formulations that aim blood flow and lymph drainage are ginkgo, papaya, pineapple, red grapes, gotu cola and ivy. Antioxidative properties are found in ginkgo, red grapes, vitamin C and E. Various formulations are most often found on the market with more active ingredients with various mechanisms that create combined effect.
Oral application of collagen has shown results in cellulite reduction. A study was conducted on 105 examinees – one group of women took 2.5 grams of collagen every day in 6-month period and a considerable cellulite degradation was noted compared to the control group. Ginkgo extracts, red grape extracts and gotu cola extracts are also utilized and show great bioavailability and a positive effect on cellulite.
Radio wave treatment
Radio wave devices provide thermal energy in subcutaneous region through the use of electrodes. Higher temperature at the targeted area increases denaturation, remodeling and the new synthesis of collagen, and also commences lipolysis. The efficacy studies have shown a significant cellulite degradation. The research was conducted on 25 women that were exposed to radio wave treatment six times per week. About 92 percent of the female patients were complacent with the therapy.
Cellulite is not formed instantaneously, which is why it cannot be expected to remove cellulite with only one treatment. Patient compliance and persistence is required before the results emerge. It is advised to use up to few liters of water daily, eating more proteins and dietary fibers. It is also recommended to do physical activity few times a week and to stick to the given instructions of skin and anti-cellulite formulations.
Translated by Dominik Šutalo
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