Cellulite is a major issue for women. Indeed, it affects 80 to 100% of women and becomes especially noticeable when a woman is age 40 or older. Cellulite is most prominent on a woman's rear thighs, buttocks, and hips, although it can appear anywhere on a woman's body. It is often described as having an orange peel or mattress appearance. While the causes and treatments of cellulite are a matter of intense debate, what isn't argued is the fact that cellulite is fat. But what makes it unique is the pattern of fat distribution that provides the typical appearance of cellulite. That appearance is caused by the way connective tissue under the skin interacts with fat storage. In women, the connective tissue pattern is vertical. What happens is that as fat deposits increase in women, the stored fat tends to poke out to the surface of the skin between the vertical connective tissue pattern. This produces a dimpled or orange peel appearance. The mesh or zig-zag pattern of male subcutaneous connective tissue holds the fat in place so that it cannot poke through the connective tissue as it does in women. Only 10% of men get cellulite and this only happens when men have higher estrogen levels and lower testosterone levels. In fact, if you provide a man with enough estrogen they can develop cellulite that looks just like what women show. But this is admittedly rare because of men's connective tissue pattern under the skin. However, since estrogen does play a role it seems likely that estrogen can explain why women are more prone to cellulite--besides the anatomical connective tissue differences between the sexes. Estrogen also tends to favor increased fat deposition under the skin or subcutaneous fat. This certainly doesn't help women avoid cellulite. On the other hand, the incidence of cellulite in women increases with age, just as estrogen levels decline. As such, estrogen alone cannot be blamed for the existence of cellulite.
Some scientists argue that cellulite is just a made-up term designed to market various nostrums reputed to help to either prevent or treat existing cellulite. These scientists say that cellulite is just ordinary body fat with the only difference being that the fat is stored in a pattern that is more typical in most women. If that were true, just going on a restricted-calorie or low carbohydrate diet should be able to completely eradicate the appearance of cellulite. And while reducing excess body fat through exercise and diet definitely does improve the appearance of cellulite, those measures alone will not completely eliminate it as many women have discovered. Indeed, you don't have to be fat to show cellulite. It can appear even in women who are otherwise thin. One reason why cellulite tends to appear most often on a women's hips, upper thighs and buttocks are that these particular fat stores are considered essential body fat. What this . . .