Cellulite is the commonly used term for the dimpled lumpy appearance of the skin, usually in the thigh and buttock region, that affects greater than 85% of females of all ethnicities and is a major cosmetic concern for a large percentage of the female population. Cellulite is a clinical condition that is not well understood, despite being such a common problem for women, and there are few effective non-invasive treatments available.
To understand what causes cellulite, we first need to go back to science class and understand our skin...
Our skin has three layers: The epidermis, which is the outermost layer of our skin, forms the waterproof, protective wrap over our body's surface which also serves as a barrier to infection. The dermis is the layer of skin beneath the epidermis that consists of connective tissue and cushions the body from stress and strain. The dermis is tightly connected to the epidermis by a membrane and contains many nerve endings that provide the sense of touch and heat. The subcutaneous tissue (also the hypodermis and subcutis) is not part of the skin, but lies below the dermis. Its purpose is to attach the skin to underlying bone and muscle as well as supplying it with blood vessels and nerves. It consists of loose connective tissue, adipose (fat) tissue and elastin.
(Photo source: https://www.ashleyblackguru.com/blogs/fascia-blog/the-myth-of-cellulite-debunked-forever)
At the risk of getting way too deep into the science and medical terms, the cause of cellulite appears to result from an interaction between the connective tissue in the dermis and the subcutaneous tissue. The collagen fibers that connect the skin and muscle are commonly referred to as fascia and they separate the underlying fat into multiple pockets. Over time, fatty tissue builds up and pushes through the fascia that connects our skin to the muscles, which then leads to the dimpled appearance we call cellulite.
Cellulite can also be caused by a number of variables such as lifestyle, nutrition and hydration.
So....how do we reduce the appearance of cellulite?
To start, it's important that we highlight "reduce"...nothing will magically get rid of cellulite entirely because there are many factors that may affect the formation and appearance of cellulite, including genetic factors, hormonal disturbances, disturbances in lymph and blood microcirculation, dietary habits, psychological factors, pregnancy, sedentary lifestyle and alcohol consumption. Also because of the tricky structure explained above, completely eliminating or preventing it is nearly impossible.
Studies in 2008 and 2010 found that massage and fascia manipulation resulted in an improvement in the thinning of the subcutaneous fat. While this has yet to be fully explained, it is likely that the process of fascia manipulation frees the fat cells, thereby decreasing the 'dimples' in the skin. One of the most recent studies completed in 2019 further provides evidence that manipulating fascia can decrease the subcutaneous thickness of adipose and lower the appearance of cellulite.
Cupping is one way to reduce the appearance of cellulite as it stimulates lymph drainage and micro circulation. Using dynamic / massage cupping 10 times, twice a week for five (5) weeks on the affected area has shown to be both efficient and safe for decreasing the appearance of cellulite.
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