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What You Need To Know About The Connection Between Cellulite And Weight Loss

Women's Health logo Women's Health 30/10/2017 Nina Bahadur

© Provided by Rodale Inc. It's a complicated relationship

When you lose weight, you'd probably expect that you'd lose (or at least reduce the appearance of) your cellulite, too. But, unfortunately, that's often not the case. What gives?

John Layke M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon and practitioner at the Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery Group, explains that cellulite is caused by fibrous bands that attach to the underside of the skin, causing the dimpling (think of a pin cushion—it's like the pins are the fibrous band).

Cellulite is incredibly common—studies estimate that 80 to 90 percent of women have it. But what causes it varies person to person, says Jennifer Caudle, D.O., a family physician and Associate Professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. She says that how much cellulite a person has depends on a number of factors, including genetics, age, skin thickness, sex, and the amount of fat on the body.

Caudle notes that people of all weights and sizes can and do have cellulite. Case in point? Back in August, actress Hilary Duff hit back at body-shamers who criticized her for having cellulite. "My body has given me the greatest gift of my life: Luca, 5 years ago. I'm turning 30 in September and my body is healthy and gets me where I need to go," Hilary wrote in the caption.

The bottom line: Losing weight won't automatically get rid of cellulite, but Layke does say that diet and exercise could maybe help reduce the appearance over time. He recommends high-intensity workouts, which provide a mixture of fat loss and muscle toning. This can cause the layer of fat under your skin to decrease in thickness, also decreasing the tautness of the fibrous bands. But again, cellulite might never go away completely simply because of your body's makeup. Research suggests that there's a genetic component to cellulite, meaning it can't necessarily be eliminated through exercise alone.

“Contrary to popular belief, cellulite is not a weight issue,” Dendy Engelman, M.D., of Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, previously told Women's Health. “Even very thin people can have cellulite and it is considered normal from a medical standpoint to have some.”

Some beauty treatments and creams claim to target cellulite, but experts are skeptical of their efficacy. "The skepticism arrives from the fact that no topical treatment can effectively treat something that occurs on the complete undersurface of the skin," Layke explains. "However, topical creams CAN target dry, crepe-y skin by hydrating and moisturizing the skin—thereby creating the illusion that cellulite is reduced."

Alas, "there are no current treatments that will eliminate cellulite completely," Layke says. So you might as well just embrace it.


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“Contrary to popular belief, cellulite is not a weight issue,” Dendy Engelman, M.D., of Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, previously told Women's Health. “Even very thin people can have cellulite and it is considered normal from a medical standpoint to have some.”

Here are 3 stretch mark treatments that actually work:

Some beauty treatments and creams claim to target cellulite, but experts are skeptical of their efficacy. "The skepticism arrives from the fact that no topical treatment can effectively treat something that occurs on the complete undersurface of the skin," Layke explains. "However, topical creams CAN target dry, crepe-y skin by hydrating and moisturizing the skin—thereby creating the illusion that cellulite is reduced." (Torch fat, get fit, and look and feel great with Women's Health's All in 18 DVD!) ​

Alas, "there are no current treatments that will eliminate cellulite completely," Layke says. So you might as well just embrace it. 

Gallery: 10 nutrition myths dietitians hate the most (Courtesy Prevention) 10 Nutrition Myths Dietitians Hate The Most

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