This lumpy, dimpled appearance of the skin – appearing most commonly on the thighs, hips, and buttocks – is known as cellulite, and most people want nothing to do with it. The good news is that cellulite is usually not serious, though it can make some people feel embarrassed or self-conscious.
Ahead, we’re sharing some popular cellulite myths that we still believe in.
Myth 1 – Only Women Get Cellulite
Men can get cellulite too. Males enjoy some protection against cellulite, which is really just subcutaneous fat poking through the dermal layer of the skin. Women have a thinner dermis, making cellulite more visible. Moreover, the connective tissue bands that hold skin against muscle are constructed differently from a man’s. In women, fibrous bands of connective tissue are arranged in such a way that fat can herniate upwards through gaps between the bands and become visible as cellulite, especially as the dermis thins with age.
Myth 2 – Thin Women Don’t Get Cellulite
Thin women get cellulite too, but having a lower body fat percentage helps since cellulite is subcutaneous fat. Still, being slender is no guarantee of being cellulite free. Genetics play a role too since genetic factors impact how thick your dermis is and how the connective tissue bands that keep cellulite in place are constructed.
Myth 3 – Cellulite only happens to out-of-shape people
There’s not enough information out there about what causes cellulite, but the uneven surface or dimpling that is noticed can be due to an accumulation of fat cells pushing up against the skin while fibrous, connective cords that tether the skin to underlying muscle pull down. It is true that weight gain can make cellulite more noticeable, but it’s not a rule that only those who are overweight or out-of-shape will get it. Those with thin, lean builds can also get cellulite, and genetics can also play a role. If you have family members with cellulite, it can contribute to you developing it as well. Moreover, cellulite also becomes more common with age as the dermis thins and the fibrous bands and connective tissue change in structure.
Myth 4 – Cellulite is caused by toxins in your body
Some over-the-counter cellulite products may claim to help remove impurities and toxins from the body. But neither their efficacy nor their claims about what causes cellulite are supported by science. Rather, cellulite occurs when underlying fat deposits begin to push through layers of collagen fibers, or connective tissue, under the skin (often in the buttocks and thigh areas, but also on arms, stomachs, and other common trouble spots, as well). Connective tissue can be weakened by hormones, lack of exercise and muscle tone, excess fat, and poor circulation. But the condition is not caused by “toxins.”
Myth 5 – Losing weight can remove cellulite for good
Since extra weight can make cellulite more noticeable, many people assume that losing weight can be a quick solution to the problem. In truth, it’s not that simple. Losing weight won’t bid farewell to cellulite for good. For some people losing weight can reduce the amount of noticeable cellulite, however it could also have the opposite effect. Why? Because developing loose skin in the process of losing weight can cause cellulite to become more noticeable as a result.
Myth 6 – Cardio is best for reducing all-over jiggle
Running or other forms of cardio can help keep weight off, which may reduce the appearance of dimples and dents. But to really smooth out your skin, you’ve got to strength train. One study found that adults who did three 30-minute aerobic workouts each week for eight weeks lost four pounds, but gained no muscle—and only slightly improved body composition. When they paired 15 minutes of aerobic activity with 15 minutes of strength training three times a week, however, they lost 10 pounds of fat, added two pounds of muscle, and saw a greater overall improvement in body composition. In other words, they looked better and lost some of the wiggle!
Myth 7 – Skin-firming creams can cure cellulite
No topical creams (prescription or over-the-counter) have been shown to permanently reduce the appearance of cellulite. Studies have found, however, that products containing retinoids (labeled as retinol over-the-counter) may provide some temporary effects by creating a thicker skin cover that can help camouflage bumps. There is limited evidence that creams or scrubs with stimulant ingredients, like caffeine, ginger, and green or black tea, may also help by improving circulation and breaking down fat-cell stores, but they are less proven.
Myth 8 – Liposuction will make you look better
If cellulite is your problem, liposuction is not your solution. This cosmetic procedure could even make fat distribution more uneven, making its outward appearance even worse.
Myth 9 – Only a dermatologist should perform cellulite treatments
A skin doc is a good place to start, and many dermatologists do perform treatments in their clinics. But cellulite is not a medical condition, and a medical professional is not required to treat it. But if you want a surgical procedure like Cellulaze, however, you’ll need to see a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon.
Myth 10 – The clothing you wear can make an impact
Wearing compression-style leggings while you exercise can reduce thigh jiggle as you move – but it’s only a temporary effect, and you’re unlikely to see any change after you strip down post-workout. For any clothing that claims to actually have lasting results, it’s just a marketing gimmick and it’s not true. In fact, for some tight clothes, the opposite may be true: Elastic bands on underwear, for example, can actually contribute to the appearance of cellulite if they cut off circulation and limit blood flow.