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What Is Cellulite? - Dr. Van Dyke

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Dr. Van Dyke describes cellulite, explains how it forms, and shares if exercise can prevent this condition.

Dr. Van Dyke:
What is cellulite? Well, anybody who looks at the backside of a celebrity whose picture is in People magazine knows what cellulite is because they are always loving to photograph women with cellulite. Cellulite is what we call a cottage cheese sometime, or that lumpy-bumpy, it’s almost always going to be the thighs, the buttocks and the abdomen and it is a disease, so to speak, of women. Men just don’t seem to get it.

So what causes cellulite? Well, we don’t really know. It’s extremely complicated. We know that gaining weight can cause it to be aggravated. Pregnancy and very high carbohydrate diets seem to contribute to cellulite appearance.

To understand how to treat cellulite it’s good to understand actually what it is under the skin. So I have my little skin model and this is the collagen layer of the skin. We call it the dermis, but you might think of it as the leather part of the skin. Down here is the fat and what happens is that there are tethers that go from the collagen layer down to underlying structures. It’s kind of what holds your skin to the surface to your body.

So, when you have cellulite, these tethers, these collagen strands become stretched out and weak and you see a bulging of the fat coming up through the skin and that’s what gives you a dimpling on the surface. Think of it as, when stretch marks happen you are weakening this part of the skin and you see the little lines and stretches on the surface, but in cellulite what’s getting weak is that the tethers, the part that holds the skin down and that’s getting stretching and weak and that’s causing little bulge. It seems to be a uniquely female problem.

Cellulite is seen in fit people and in unfit people. In fat people and skinny people; in people losing weight and in people gaining weight. Now when I say people I mean women. So, I think it certainly behooves you to be at your ideal weight, to exercise regularly, and to eat a good diet that’s not super high in carbohydrates, to give your body the best genetic advantage, but doing all of that perfectly does not ensure you will not have cellulite.

About Dr. Susan Van Dyke, M.D.:
After completing 2 years of formal training in Internal Medicine, Dr. Van Dyke found what was to be the start of her dream job. She spent the next 3 years training intensely at Ohio State University and the University of Arizona Medical Centers. Her focus: Dermatology, particularly the cosmetic aspects. Founded in 1985, she formed her practice to deliver the best of Dermatology. In 1995, Van Dyke Laser & Skin became one of the first exclusively Cosmetic Dermatology practices in the world.

Visit Dr. Van Dyke at her website

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