Saturday, September 24, 2011

A cure for cellulite? by Jerry Brainum

Cellulite remains a hot topic of controversy among those who research body fat.Some say that cellulite is just ordinary fat deposits that peek through connective tissue. Others, noting that men rarely get cellulite, say that it's a women's distinct combination of anatomy and hormones that makes them fall prey to cellulite. Indeed, 80 to 90 percent of all women will eventually show the usual "orange peel" fat pattern, especially on their thighs and buttocks. As it worsens, the orange peel appearance may give way to a "cottage cheese" appearance. This progression usually is associated with age and an increase in local fat deposits,combined with a weakening of the connective tissue that keeps the fat in place.
      Cellulite is more common in women because of the structure of the connective tissue that holds fat in place.While the connective tissue under men's skin is in a criss-cross pattern similar to a net, in women, the pattern is vertical, which permits the underlying fat to bulge. That means cellulite.Although greater levels of body fat predispose women to having cellulite, it can also occur in thinner women. This is because the body fat in the upper thighs and buttocks has a preponderance of alpha adrenergic receptors on the fat cells. This has the effect of causing local fat cells to retain fat, rather then readily release it. Most women can attest that the fat in the upper thighs and butt is usually the hardest to get rid of. But this stubborn fat also predisposes to cellulite formation, depending on such factors as how thin a woman's skin is in this area, and also the strength of the connective tissue that overlies that fat.Women have thinner connective tissue overlying fat deposits than men, which makes them more prone to cellulite, even relatively thin women.The higher estrogen in women's bodies are also tends to increase local fat deposits under the skin. This makes women's skin softer than men's, but also makes the women more prone to getting cellulite. It's not just estrogen, either that's the problem. other hormones also play a role, including thyroid hormone. An excess in norepinephrine has also been implicated in cellulite onset, since this hormone tends to stimulate alpha adrenergic fat cell receptors when in excess.This is something for women to consider if they overdose on many of the "fat burner" supplements, most of which work by promoting norepinephrine release.
       Cellulite shows up more in women past 40 because of a loss of flexibility of the connective tissue that holds fat in place. When that happens, the fat begins to bulge through the connective tissue.The connective tissue actually tightens, producing the dimpled skin appearance.Thinner women will get cellulite because of thinner overlying skin coupled with unusually tight connective tissue.If the connective tissue remains flexible, however, cellulite won't occur, even with greater amounts of fat in the area.
        The desire of women to lose cellulite has engendered a huge industry of various nostrums touted to cause the disappearance of the dreaded orange peel appearance.In truth, however, these so-called cures provide a maximum of 25-50% temporary improvement in the appearance of cellulite. Most work by causing a local irritation in the skin that leads to a short-term smoothing out of cellulite because of skin swelling. If you stop using the creams, the cellulite returns.  Liposuction would appear to be the ideal solution for treating cellulite, but in fact makes the condition worse. While liposuction removes local fat deposits, it does nothing to relieve the problems of connective tissue and localized fluid retention that play major roles in cellulite onset. So with the fat removed by liposuction, the dimples become even more noticeable.
     In a new study, researchers from Brazil discussed a technique that they say has eased cellulite in many women, and which they have developed over a 10-year period.Their technique is based on a theory that a major cause of cellulite is poor localized lymph circulation. The lymph fluid accumulates in women's upper thighs and butt, pushing the fat through the inflexible connective tissue.Their treatment involves 1 1/2 hours a day of a combination of manual and mechanical lymph drainage, and cervical stimulation, which they say also helps the body to more effectively circulate lymph fluid. The study showed that 10 sessions over a 2-week period of 14 women, ages 14 to 36, effectively eliminated all signs of cellulite in the women. None of the women were obese, and none suffered from edema, or localized water retention. They study authors claim that "the worse the cellulite, the better the results." They also say that the results are long lasting, as long as treated women don't add a lot of body fat.
       Time will tell just how effective this treatment is. What we know now is that all other alleged cellulite treatments are just palliative; they merely disguise, rather than eliminate cellulite. But in the meantime, many women are spending a lot of money on these temporary "cures" that don't really work. One other recent treatment has also been suggested. Viagra, when applied as a topical cream, also seems to blunt the appearance of cellulite. It's supposed to work by easing the tightening of connective tissue that produces the dimples in cellulite. I would suggest that any woman who contemplates using this topical Viagra technique  take care to avoid rubbing against their husbands or boyfriends. The penalties for doing so could be stiff.

Godoy J, et al. Treatment of cellulite based on the hypothesis of a novel physiopathology.Clin Cosmet, Investig Dermatol 2011;4: 55-59.

©,2013 Jerry Brainum. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited.

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