Cellulite occurs due to complex physiological changes in subcutaneous layer of skin. Most of the women develop cellulite at some stage though it is very rare in men. Cellulite is related to obesity and it is very much evident in obese or over weight women but it can occur even in thinner and slimmer females too.
Skin has three layers beneath and the top layer is the subcutaneous layer, under this, lies two layers of fat, cellulite occurs in the subcutaneous layer and not in the fat layers under it. Subcutaneous layer contains net like fibrous tissues called septae which form compartment like structure and each compartment has fat cells, the job of these fibrous tissues is to hold these fat cells tightly and provide insulation and structural support to the skin.
In obese people due to fat accumulation the lower layers of fat push the subcutaneous layer towards the skin which makes the skin look like an orange peel or wrinkled. In cellulite the fat cells are squeezed and pushed upwards while septae is pushed downwards which form lumps on the skin. As age grows the skin gets thinner to make cellulite more evident. Women have more body fat than men and the formation of subcutaneous layer is different in men and women, which cause cellulite to surface very rarely in men.
Typically cellulite is identified by orange peel or mattress like look of the skin. While touching the skin it feels spongy and softer. Pinching forms a dimple which is not evident while lying down at initial stages but later it appears while standing and lying down. Appearance of stretch marks with out any clear reason is also a symptom of cellulite in some people. Woman suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or liver diseases are more likely to develop cellulite in the lower abdomen. Heavy leg exercises or fluid drainage develops cellulite in the upper thigh area which forms hard lumps and this type of cellulite is more common in most of the men suffering from cellulite.
Weak veins, fragile lymphatic vessels, poor circulation, fat cells and hormone sensitivity are few reasons which can be genetically inherited by any women to cause cellulite. Mostly women suffer from cellulite due to the presence of hormones like estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are responsible for fat accumulation around breasts, thighs and buttocks and over production of progesterone can cause weakness in veins, fluid retention and weight gain which promotes growth of cellulites. Young women during puberty develop stretch marks due to this hormonal activity. Pregnancy causes cellulites in almost every woman as during pregnancy hormone production and fluid retention increases.
Stressful and sedentary life style cause fat accumulation in buttocks, stomach, thighs and legs and lack of physical movement restrict flow of blood and lymphatic fluids, this stagnant venous blood and lymphatic fluids put pressure on veins and lymphatic vessels to stretch them and cause leaking, fluid retention to cause cellulite. Though cellulite victimize thin people also but over weight people are more prone to it. Subcutaneous layer is pushed outwards by fat layers beneath it and worsens the appearance further. Liposuction and pelvic surgery are good to reshape the body but they may cause cellulite in some cases.
Excessive dieting or poor dieting methods for controlling weight and harsh body massages particularly of legs can also cause cellulite. Smoking also causes this problem as it increases number of free radicals in the blood and make them active which can weaken the blood flow by restricting veins and capillaries.