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For tens of millions of women in nearly every country in the world the number one cosmetic concern is cellulite.

Why Cellulite Is a Women's Issue

Many women attempt arduous weight-reduction regimens and other time-consuming and expensive cellulite home remedies to try to lose the fat they are sure is causing the little bumps that look like orange peel beneath their skin.

Diets to get rid of cellulite never work. That is because the little bumps that make the skin look like orange peel in cellulite actually are not filled with fat. They are filled with water. Finding effective natural cures for orange skin requires understanding the peculiar biology of the female fat cell.

If social norms permitted citizen investigators to go around pinching people, they would quickly notice a big difference between the skin's reaction to a pinch in men and in women. If you pinch a man's skin, it springs back quickly. If you pinch a woman's skin, it springs back much more slowly.

The reason for this difference is the nature of the fat lying just beneath the surface. Healthy skin in both women and men always has a little fat in the layers below it. A little fat is beneficial. It prevents wrinkles and stretch marks (at least until dieting melts it away). It buffers the connective tissues that support the skin and its gives the skin its healthy, curvaceous contours.

A peculiarity of the subdermal fat in women, however, is that the chambers that contain it stand up straight. Fat cells are taller than they are wide. In men, the fat cells beneath the skin lie on their sides, wider than they are tall. Why should this be?

Cellulite and the Hormones That Accommodate Labor and Delivery

The reason women are at risk for cellulite has to do with the demands of giving birth. A few weeks before delivery, the body of a pregnant woman generates massive amounts of a hormone called relaxin.

As its name suggests, this hormone causes connective tissues all over the body to relax so that the cervix can dilate to accommodate the birth of the child. If tissues all over the body did not relax, then the severe strain on the connective fascia around the birth canal would cause damage to fascia, ligaments, and tendons all over the body. Delivering a child, for example, would cause severe neck strain without the action of this hormone.

Fat cells that stand up straight when a woman is pregnant stretch more to allow for the delivery of a child. And fat, being "squishy," does not cause cellulite. What really causes cellulite is the accumulation of fluids inside fat cells that "tough" proteins forming the matrix of the cells will not allow to flow away. The biochemical processes that allow for the formation of "tough" proteins in a woman's skin is also an important part of the bigger pattern connective tissue differences that enable women's bodies to accommodate childbirth.

Drastic and Unnecessary Cures for Cellulite

One way to get rid of cellulite, of course, is to have it surgically stripped away. If there are no fat cells at all, there will be no cellulite. The problem with any surgical treatment for cellulite is that any convex surface subjected to surgery will scar.

This means that if a woman has a cosmetic reduction surgery for "thunder thighs" that also gets rid of cellulite, the skin may have a pleasing appearance as long as she does not regain weight or suffer fluid retention. If anything swells the surgically altered skin, however, the skin will show a nasty scar. This effect is even more noticeable when surgery is done on the buttocks. If the surgeon loosens too much skin in the process of removing fat, the result can be a permanent ptosis, or bulging, usually at the crease between the buttocks. The bulge can be visible through clothing.

Unnatural remedies for orange skin carry many cosmetic risks. In general, surgery for cellulite is a bad idea if:

  • The surgical candidate is not prepared for the possibility of scarring. A "cellulite lift," designed to replace the "buttocks lift," has been available in the United States since the early 1990's. The surgeon makes an incision around the entire abdomen and then removes excess skin to pull it up and over the thighs, buttocks, and flank. Cellulite disappears, but there is always an extensive scar going all the way around the body at the midriff.
  • There has ever been any kind of lymphedema or poor lymphatic circulation anywhere on the body. The process of removing fat beneath the skin can injure the lymph channels and result in "thunder calves" replacing "thunder thighs."
  • There has ever been any surgical treatment of varicose veins. The combination of surgeries can result in changes in blood pressure that lead to peripheral arterial disease, characterized by browning and peeling of the skin on the calves and shin and sometimes development of black, oozing, open sores.

Additionally, doctors will not perform thigh reduction or cellulite surgery on patients who smoke. Fortunately, there are other ways to handle the problem with genuine cellulite home remedies, effective natural cures for orange skin.

Herbal Treatment for Cellulite

The Ayurvedic herb gotu kola, also known as Centella asiatica, contains an active ingredient called forskolin that helps break down the glycosaminoglycans that cross-link the proteins that hold the fat cells in place. When the fat cells are allowed to drain fluid, they disappear.

Medical researchers publishing in the journal Obesity Research report that combination of forskolin and the caffeine-like drug called aminophylline caused women to lose up to about an inch (2.5 cm) of loose skin on treated thighs. Similar results are obtained from a combination of forskolin and caffeine, available in lauder Body Performance Anti-Cellulite Visible Contouring Serum and Osmotics Lipoduction. These products may cost up to $100 a month, but they are far less expensive—and risky—than surgery.

Foods for Reducing Cellulite

UCLA dermatology professor Dr. Howard Murad claims that lecithin-rich foods such as eggs, soy, and spinach strengthen cells walls and reduce the puckering of the skin that causes cellulite.

Dr. Peter Pugliese claims that phytoestrogens in soy help prevent the release of the enzyme collagenase. This is skin's natural recycling agent that dissolves the septae fibers, resulting in wrinkling and dimpling on the skin's surface. Neither expert can back up his claim with scientific evidence, but there is little potential harm in trying their suggestions.

Weight Loss

There is good scientific evidence that weight loss reduces cellulite. Surprisingly, the easier the diet, the greater the cosmetic improvement.

In a study at the University of Pittsburgh, women cut out enough calories to take off 33 pounds (15 kilograms) in 12 weeks without any exercise at all. Most of the fat lost in the thighs came from between the muscles rather than under the skin, and there was little change in cellulite. Losing 10-11 pounds (5 kg) a month did very little to get rid of cellulite.

But a study at the University of Maryland found that when dieters exercise as well as cut down on calories, they lose more or less equal percentages of fat between the muscles and underneath the skin of the thighs. The women in the University of Maryland study reduced food consumption 250-300 calories per day and exercised just enough to lose approximately 15 pounds (7 kg) over 6 months. This approach proved offered real cellulite reduction. Losing 2-3 pounds (1-1.5 kg) a month resulted in considerable loss cellulite.

Spot Reducing Cellulite Won't Work

There is no way to lose fat on the thighs without losing weight all over the body, but it's possible to lose weight all over the body except the thighs. The same researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that the accumulation of fatty tissue in the thighs is more closely related to insulin resistance than to total body weight. To get control over "thunder thighs," it is necessary to make the muscles more sensitive to the action of insulin-and the only way to do that is exercise. That is why diet without exercise just won't work.

One More Natural Remedy for Orange Skin

Of all the machines advertised for treating cellulite, only one gets reliable results-but even it is only effective when used with forskolin and caffeine creams. Ultrasound massagers vibrate between 1 million and 1.8 million times a second, each time delivering a very gentle pulse of sound to the skin. Certain ultrasound machines can create micro-channels that open between skin cells for fractions of a second.

These channels are just wide enough to allow the forskolin and caffeine to penetrate the skin, but not wide enough to admit infectious microorganisms or dirt. The ultrasound massage feels good, and it greatly increases the effectiveness of any cream for cellulite.

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  • Knobloch K, Joest B, Vogt PM. Focused ultrasound for noninvasive body contouring in cellulite. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2010 Feb.125(2):751.
  • Lach E. Reduction of subcutaneous fat and improvement in cellulite appearance by dual-wavelength, low-level laser energy combined with vacuum and massage. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2008 Dec.10(4):202-9.
  • Volga B, Turkan A, Yesim B, Hulya K, Nevin E. Effects of mechanical massage, manual lymphatic drainage and connective tissue manipulation techniques on fat mass in women with cellulite. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2009 Jul 13. [Epub ahead of print]

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