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What is Cellulite & How is it Formed?
Cellulite is a skin appearance that is a nightmare and cause of depression for many women. Often referred to as “orange peel”, “cottage cheese” or “mattress effect”, the appearance of the lumpy skin formation can make women feel self-conscious, depressed and even bad about themselves.
The lumpy and bumpy appearance is a complete opposite of what we see as the “beautiful body” in society, and as a result, many women have problems with self-esteem and will often not go out in revealing clothes that would otherwise have made them feel sexier and more confident about themselves.
What is Cellulite?
As I have already said, people refer to it in several descriptive ways, but whatever we call it or nickname we give it, cellulite is something that women want to banish for good. It affects a huge number of women worldwide. In fact, according to Dr. Mathew M. Avram of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, 85 to 98 percent of women have this lumpy cell appearance. It can often begin to appear at age 13 or roughly after puberty, and affects women of all races.
Some people say that you can’t get rid of it, but this is not the case. You CAN. You just have to know what causes it and then adjust your lifestyle to reverse that which is causing the problem.
The formation of the lumpy cell appearance is basically a catalog of a small number of events that take place in the body. Before you try to deal with getting rid of it, it is important to understand the body and find out how this cell appearance is formed, and I am going to cover this in details right here.
Let’s first take a look at the skin structure first. (This is very important, so please read carefully!)
The skin is composed of three basic layers, stacked on top of each other. The outermost layer is the epidermis. This is what protects you from the elements as well as other substances that might enter your body. This layer is also waterproof as the inner layers secrete a thin film of oily substance to coat the epidermis.
The next or middle layer is the dermis. Dr. Robert J. McNeal of Merck Sharpe and Dhome say that one is elastic and the other one is tough and inelastic. The elastic portion is what gives your skin the ability to shrink and shiver when it is cold or even when you attempt to pull it taut. It gives your skin the elasticity it needs. The other layer is composed of collagen which is very strong and very durable. Collagen is not elastic and thus forms the barrier and anchor of the skin to the next, inner layer.
The collagen-rich connective tissue layer of the dermis is structured like a net, a meshwork of collagen strands. Imagine a basket weave with its crisscross pattern and you will now have an idea of how the collagen matrix in the skin looks like.
Actually, if you are going to look closely at your skin, you can see very small mesh-like or net-like patterns on your epidermis. These are composed of an inward indentation coupled with a bulging center portion. And the pattern is repeated. The inward depression – or the lines that make up the ‘net’ – are where the bands of collagen are roughly located underneath the epidermis.
The last and innermost layer of the skin is the hypodermis or the subcutaneous tissue. This layer is composed of fat that functions to keep your body warm when it is cold outside as well as provide extra protection against external pressures. One of the essential functions of the subcutaneous layer is as a storage depot for unused energy in the form of fat.
Now that you have an idea of how the skin is structured, we can proceed to understanding how the lumpy cell appearance is formed …
How is Cellulite Formed?
There are four leading hypotheses regarding how it is formed. The leading hypothesis suggests differences in the way the skin is structured. The other three hypotheses center on changes in the circulation of blood and lymph, changes in the connective tissues underneath the skin and factors that promote and/or enhance inflammatory processes. Experts believe that any of these hypotheses can explain the occurrence or development of the cell appearance. Others believe that it can be a mix of these bodily changes that can lead to this formation.
Problems in Blood Circulation and the Collagen Matrix
The bumpy cell appearance is often believed to be the result of a problem in the connective tissue of the skin, particularly collagen. Drs. Michael Rosenbaum, Victor Prieto, and Johan Hellmer, and their team of investigators published an article in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons say that the dimpling appearance can be attributed to irregular and highly discontinuous connective tissues underneath the skin. Additionally, they mention that many individuals who have this appearance have very diffuse patterns of fat tissue protruding or extruding well into the region of the dermis, at the location of the space in the collagen net.
What this goes to show is that the fat deposits in the subcutaneous layer are growing and pushing themselves well up into the region of the dermis. And since collagen is strong and very inelastic, there is no way for it to budge. However, remember that the collagen connective tissue matrix is like a basket weave, the fat deposits now tend to push their way through the center of these individual ‘holes’ in the net. This exacerbates the lumpy and dimpling appearance of the skin.
The same study revealed problems or issues in the collagen connective tissue itself. If you are going to look closely at the net-like pattern on your skin and compare that with the skin with a lumpy cell appearance, you will see that the bulges or the lumps on the skin are bigger and lumpier, often spanning several ‘holes’ at a time. This suggests that some of the collagen connective tissue under the skin is not contiguous.
This is also what Dr. Rosenbaum and his team of researchers found out. They believe that the non-contiguous nature of the collagen connective tissue matrix might be the result of reduced collagen production or synthesis. If this is the case, then diet or the efficient distribution of nutrients can be at fault.
Dr. Matthew D. Shoulders and Dr. Ronald T. Raines published in the Annual Review of Biochemistry that collagen is simply the most abundant protein found in animals (men and women included). Experts now believe that this appearance may be attributed to the poor circulation of blood to the skin. Proteins found in food need to be delivered by the blood across the network of blood vessels. Dr. Lionel Bissoon, author of the book “The Cellulite Cure” and a noted mesotherapist, commented that when blood flow to the skin is compromised, oxygen and other nutrients, particularly proteins, are not delivered to the many cells and tissues of the skin. As such, there is significantly fewer amounts of protein with which the skin can produce collagen and reinforce the connective tissue network. This now leads to an increase in the bulk of the fatty tissue underneath the protective layer of connective tissue. These fats protrude well into the spaces left open by discontinuous collagen connective matrix. This creates the uneven and lumpy appearance that can be seen from the outside.
The result of low collagen production in the body means the connective tissue becomes weakened. The reduced collagen production is either an inherent genetic problem in the production and formation of collagen or a problem in the delivery of much-needed protein building blocks can lead to the formation and development of this appearance. It is for this reason that improving the blood flow to the skin including a diet that is rich in protein can significantly reduce the lumpy cell formation. When you eat protein rich foods, you provide the necessary building blocks for the body to produce more collagen to help strengthen the barrier between the subcutaneous fat layer and the connective tissue dermis layer. But this is not enough. You also need to make sure that these nutrients and oxygen are adequately distributed to the dermis where they are needed.
Please note: You can intake collagen in the form of collagen powder. I cover a simple and effective way to do this in modules 1 and 2 of my course that you can find here on this site entitled How to Get Rid Of Cellulite – The Definitive Guide. Module 2 titled Effective Super Drinks shows you how to make great drinks that you can incorporate collagen power in.
Issues With Fat Deposition
Ensuring that the skin gets enough collagen through protein is not enough however. This is because of an underlying issue that needs to be dealt with. Since the major issue is in the protrusion of fat into the layer of the skin, where it is not supposed to venture into, it is important to make sure that you reduce the excess fat where possible so as to reduce the bulge of the fat cells through the connective tissue structure.
Dr. Gerald Pierard, described in the Volume 22 issue of the 2000 American Journal of Dermatopathology that people with a lumpy cell appearance tend to, or often have an abnormal accumulation of fat deposits in the affected areas. What Dr. Pierard and his team of researchers are saying is that individuals who have this have more fatty tissues under their skin compared to individuals who do not. This is believed to be true as well when looking at the distribution across gender, with more women having this appearance than men. This has also spawned the theory that cellulite may be strongly related to hormonal changes in the body. The study of Dr. F. Nuremberg and Dr. G. Muller supported this theory in that men with a lower production of the testosterone hormone have been found to be more likely to develop this appearance than men with a higher production of testosterone.
For women, the hormone estrogen is a bit of an enemy in terms of the “lumpy issue”. It is almost a “can’t win” hormone. A woman needs estrogen, and it is essential for her sexual and reproductive development. However, estrogen affects the body in other ways too. As a woman gets older, the estrogen production decreases. The decrease of estrogen is mostly apparent in the lower part of the body, and in particular around the buttocks and thighs. The decrease in estrogen means that the blood vessels around these regions start to lose their efficiency and function, and so fail to deliver the necessary oxygen and nutrients to the connective tissue. This results in a reduced production of collagen and therefore a weakening of the connective tissue structure.
With younger women however, the opposite is the case with the estrogen factor. Younger women produce estrogen in abundance. In addition to this, poor diet, lack of exercise, stress and birth control pills or pregnancy can induce what is known as estrogen dominance which is a hormonal imbalance. Estrogen produces fat, which isn’t an issue if all other factors such as diet, exercise and lifestyle are in good shape, but when a younger woman continues with poor diet, exercise and lifestyle, estrogen dominance can occur which produces fat in greater quantity anad is a reason why we see the lumpy cell appearance in women even in their teens.
The main cause and reason for dimpled look appearing is a result of an inadequate production of collagen. Let me put it this way in way of an analogy. Ships have pumps in the hull. The purpose of the pumps is to suck up water that is leaking in to the hull and to pump it back in to the sea. If the pumps start to deteriorate so that it produces less water output, the ship will start to sink because the amount of water needed to be pumped out is not adequate. So, we have a similar situation with collagen production. If the amount of collagen being produced is not sufficient to maintain a correct strength and firmness in the connective tissue, then we can expect the underlying fat cells to begin bulging through the weakened structure. In addition to this, if we allow the fatty tissue to increase, we are putting even more strain on the weakened connective tissue and the fat cells are forced in even greater measure against the connective tissue.
The body requires energy in the form of glucose. However, in instances when there is too much glucose, the body converts this into glycogen to be stored in the liver and the skeletal muscles. When there is still plenty of glucose left in the blood, the body converts this into fat and is then stored in fat storage sites in the subcutaneous layer of the skin. Carbohydrates, sugary snacks, etc., are major contributors to the fat storage escalation problem. You can find out which foods are bad and which are good in module 1 of Effective Super Foods in my 6 module course.
Physical exercise can help reduce the deposition of fat by increasing the rate of metabolism of the body. Dr. Robert Ross and his team of researchers wrote in an article for the Annals of Internal Medicine that physical exercise alone can lead to significant reduction in abdominal fat and insulin resistance. When taken together with dietary restrictions or modifications, physical exercise can lead to more improved utilization of stored glycogen and fats.
Increasing the muscle mass can also work to decrease the incidence of the lumpy cell appearance. A well-toned muscle is constantly semi-contracted all the time. Because of this, it is continuously utilizing the energy found in the body. If there are no more glycogen in the storage sites, then fat from the subcutaneous tissues are mobilized. I cover this in greater detail in module 6 titled Effective Super Exercises, where I provide great practical advice on how you can achieve the best results using exercise to get rid of that unwanted lumpy looking skin.
This is how cellulite is formed. Collagen connective tissue problems and fat deposition in addition to the various mechanisms that are associated with these processes make up the whole process of the formation and development. To summarize, the lumpycells form when there the connective tissue structure under the skin becomes weakened as a result of reduced collagen production.
The issue is made worse when toxins in the body are not removed from the body efficiently or effectively via the lymphatic system. Lymph flow is essential for the body, because the lymph system is responsible for disposing of the toxins in the body. Toxins are part of life, and even those of us who have a healthy diet and lifestyle and get plenty of exercise will have to deal with toxins. The difference between those individuals and those with unhealthy diets, lifestyles with a lack of physical exercise, is that they will be able to process the toxins via a healthy lymphatic system with good lymph flow.
When toxins enter the body, it stores them in the fat cells, and these are generally in the affected areas (namely the thighs / legs, buttocks / butt, abdomen and arms). Toxins create an environment for the unwanted skin appearance to form. Fluid retention is also potential hazard for causing the lumpy cell appearance. This is because fluid is present around the loose connective tissue (adipose tissue). The fluid becomes contaminated with toxic waste, and it actually breaks down collagen / fibers that keep and maintain a firm skin.
The purpose of the lymph circulation is to remove these toxins from the body. The body stores the toxins in the body’s fat cells whilst waiting for the lymph system to dispose of it. These fat cells are generally located in the affected areas. The toxins present make the appearance much worse, so a healthy fast flowing lymph system is essential to maintain a low toxin level and so protect the connective tissue structure.
If, due to poor diet, lifestyle and lack of exercise, the toxins are not removed at an adequate rate, and the toxin build continues, the body’s fat cells will increase so that the excess toxins can be stored. This therefore, becomes an ongoing issue, and so the appearance gets worse.
I have mentioned that having the correct diet and exercise is an important part of the process to reduce the lumpy cell appearance, but lifestyle is also important. For example, stress, smoking and exposure to UV can be major contributing factors to its appearance. I cover this and the reasons why in module 3 titled Effective Super Lifestyle.
There are also other things that you can do in addition to the key factors that reduce this appearance, and that is the use of creams and lotions. If you use the right products, they can help, but you must be aware, that on their own, these creams and lotions won’t fix the problem. You MUST fix the cause of the problem, or be in the process of the fix before you can expect to see effective results from the creams. I cover this in greater detail in module 4 that is titled Effective Super Applications. The same goes with wraps and scrubs, another popular way of treating this appearance. Like the creams and lotions, the wraps and scrubs won’t get rid of this issue if the main causes are not addressed such as diet, exercise and right lifestyle. You can find more detail about this in module 5 titled Effective Super Wraps and Scrubs.