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Adipose cellulite, how to identify and eliminate it?

Adipose cellulite is characterised by the swelling of cells in the hypodermis, following a significant accumulation of fats. This gives the skin a dimpled appearance, often deemed unattractive. Discover in this article how to recognise adipose cellulite and what solutions exist to eliminate it.

Summary
Published January 31, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 6 min read

Adipose Cellulite: What is it?

Adipose cellulite is characterised by the presence of soft and non-painful dimples to the touch. These give the skin a grainy and bumpy appearance. Adipose cellulite results from a surplus of subcutaneous fat storage which accumulates in the adipocytes of the hypodermis, the cells of the adipose tissue.

Let's remember that the skin is composed of three main layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis. The epidermis, the superficial part, has a protective role and is covered by the hydrolipidic film. The dermis is thick and elastic: it notably contains the sebaceous glands that produce sebum. Finally, the hypodermis is the deepest layer of the skin. Predominantly made up of fat cells, it serves as an energy reserve and plays a role in thermal insulation.

Adipose cells are held together by collagen fibres. When fats accumulate in the adipocytes, we observe a hyperplasia of these cells, in other words, a multiplication. This is generally followed by their hypertrophy, that is to say, their swelling. This causes a structural change at the level of the dermis, which has repercussions at the level of the epidermis and induces the emergence of adipose cellulite.

What are the causes of adipose cellulite?

Adipose cellulite is often found in the stomach, hips, thighs, arms, and buttocks. Its causes are varied: overweight, lack of physical exercise, unbalanced diet, heredity... Most often, it is due to an imbalance between the fat consumed and expended. An excessive consumption of fatty foods and/or a lack of physical activity lead to an excess of fats in the body. This surplus is then stored in the adipocytes, which promotes the appearance of adipose cellulite. Heredity also plays a role. Recent studies have highlighted that certain genes are decisive in a person's ability to store fats or to easily eliminate them. It appears that the ATXN1 and UBE2E2 genes are particularly involved in adipogenesis, that is, the formation of adipocytes.

How to eliminate adipose cellulite?

It is quite challenging to completely eliminate adipose cellulite. However, several methods can be implemented to prevent its onset or reduce its appearance.

Certain daily actions.

Some daily actions or practices help to prevent the onset of adipose cellulite and limit its development.

  • Adopt a balanced diet : when we regularly ingest a large amount of fat, the excess is stored in adipocytes, which distorts the dermis and promotes the appearance of cellulite. To prevent this, it is advised to maintain a balanced and varied diet.

  • Maintaining regular physical activity : engaging in sports helps to burn the excess fat stored in adipocytes and aids in reducing cellulite.

  • Massages : performing a kneading and rolling technique can notably stimulate the circulation of fats and water, having a draining effect. Accompanied by the application of a toning treatment, such as our caffeine body cream or our green coffee body scrub, this type of massage has a smoothing and firming action on the skin. The caffeine notably has a lipolytic action. It triggers a cascade of reactions resulting in the reduction of fats in the adipocytes.

Aesthetic medicine.

When adipose cellulite is established, it is possible to turn to certain aesthetic medicine techniques to reduce its appearance.

  • Radiofrequency : The emission of a very high-frequency electromagnetic wave allows the heating of the hypodermis and the promotion of lipolysis. The accumulated fat is thus evacuated and the adipocytes deflate. However, this operation is not recommended for pregnant women, and people with a pacemaker or melanoma. After the session, some redness and swelling may appear for a few hours.

  • Shockwaves : these acoustic waves help to stimulate microcirculation and collagen synthesis, soften connective tissues, and induce lipolysis. After the session, it is possible to experience slight pain and irritation, which will gradually fade in the following days. However, it is not recommended for people with a pacemaker and pregnant women to use shockwaves.

  • Mesotherapy : this method is based on the injection of active substances with lipolytic properties, such as caffeine or L-carnitine. After the injection, a small reactive oedema or skin redness is sometimes observed. These are normal reactions that spontaneously disappear after a few hours or days.

  • Cryolipolysis : this method involves exposing the area to cold temperatures (-3°C to 0°C) with the aim of destroying adipocytes, without damaging the surrounding tissues. The initial results are often observed after 2 to 3 appointments spaced 3 to 4 weeks apart. After a session, it is possible to experience muscle soreness for a few days.

Surgery.

Finally, there are also surgical methods available to remove a portion of adipose cellulite.

  • Liposuction Liposuction is a technique that involves the suction of fat through cannulas inserted into the skin via small incisions. Following the procedure, it is not uncommon to observe the emergence of oedemas and bruises, which typically subside after a few weeks. During liposuction, the fat cells are eliminated. As a result, fat cannot return after undergoing liposuction. That's why, in the same area, only one operation is performed.

  • Subcision : a micro-blade is used to penetrate the subcutaneous fat and release certain septa, thus leading to the elimination of cellulite. The septa are the partitions separating the adipocytes.

Sources:

  • RAWLINGS A. Cellulite and its treatment. International Journal of Cosmetic Science (2006).

  • HERMAN A. & al. Caffeine's mechanisms of action and its cosmetic use. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology (2013). 

  • SADICK N. Treatment for cellulite. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology (2018).

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