Many of us are already accustomed to the lumpy, dimpled flesh on our thighs, hips, buttocks or abdomen. But what actually is cellulite?

Cellulite affects around 90 percent of women and 10% of men – so you are not alone! Cellulite is a term for the formation of lumps and dimples in the skin. The dimple-like effect is caused by the expansion of fat cells being pushed up against the skin and the long, tough fibrous connective cords that connect the skin to the underlying muscle are stretched down. Cellulite is more common in women due to the different distribution of fat, muscle, and connective tissues. The severity scale of cellulite has been graded into three levels.

Grade 1, or mild: Between 1 to 4 superficial depressions, and a slightly “draped” or sagging appearance to the skin.

Grade 2, or moderate: There are between five and nine medium-depth depressions, and the skin appears moderately draped.

Grade 3, or severe: with 10 or more deep depressions, and the skin is severely draped.

Why does cellulite appear?

  1. Your alpha and beta receptors

Everyone has alpha and beta receptors. Alpha receptors will cause fat cells to product fat. Beta receptors on the other hand break down fat. In women, for everyone one beta receptor in the thigh, there are 9 alpha receptors.

  1. Hormonal factors and age:

Estrogen, insulin, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones and prolactin are part of the cellulite production process. As women approach menopause the blood flow to the connective tissues under the skin also reduces. This results in lower collagen production as a result of limited oxygen flow. By limiting the oxygen levels and flow make the fat deposits more visible as it enlarges the fat cells.

  1. Genetic Factors

Genetic factors including a person’s metabolism, distribution of fat under the skin, ethnicity and circulatory levels can all effect the changes of cellulite developing.

  1. Weight gain and lifestyle

Weight gain and inactive lifestyle can also lead to greater cellulite. A poor diet and sedentary  lifestyle will ultimately lead to greater fat cell growth and emphasize the effect of cellulite more.


Cellulite is a completely normal and common element of life. By understanding the reasons behind why cellulite appears, it will hopefully make more individuals more accepting of their cellulite and normalize this in society.