The term cellulite refers to the dimpled appearance of the skin that some people have on their hips, thighs and buttocks. Cellulite is much more common in women than in men. In fact, the majority of women (eight out of 10) have some degree of cellulite. This appearance is much more common in women than in men because of differences in the way fat, muscle and connective tissue are distributed in men and women's skin.
Cellulite is caused by fibrous connective cords that connect the skin to the underlying muscle. The cords tether the skin to deeper structures with the fat lying in between. As the fat cells accumulate, they push up against the skin, while the long, tough cords are pulling down. This creates an uneven surface or dimpling.
Cellulite is not related to the condition known as cellulitis which is a spreading bacterial infection of the skin and tissues beneath the skin.
Cellulite looks like dimpled or bumpy skin. It's sometimes described as skin with a cottage cheese or orange-peel texture. Cellulite ranges in severity. Mild cases can only be seen when the skin is pinched (the dimpling appears in the pinched skin). More severe cases make the skin appear rumpled and bumpy with areas of peaks and valleys. Cellulite is most common around the thighs and buttocks but it can be found on the breasts, lower abdomen and upper arms as well.
Weight gain can make cellulite more noticeable but cellulite may still be present in lean individuals. It tends to run in families, so genetics may play the biggest role in whether you develop cellulite. Other factors that may increase your chances of having cellulite include stress, an inactive lifestyle and using hormonal contraceptives. In addition, cellulite is more common with aging, when the skin loses some of its elasticity.
Though not a serious medical condition, cellulite can be unsightly and it may make you self-conscious when wearing shorts or a swimming suit.
Most people dislike the appearance of cellulite and prefer to have skin as smooth as they possibly can.