How Does Cellulite Develop?

Cellulite is considered a solely cosmetic condition. Indeed, until recently, cellulite was not acknowledged in medical literature. Now, research has shown that changes over time in the body’s skin structure actually lead to the transformation of fat cells into cellulite.

 Stage One

Blood microcirculation, venous flow, and/or lymphatic drainage to the subcutaneous layer are impaired. Reduced blood microcirculation starves and weakens the surrounding tissue, making it more susceptible to cellulite. Reduced venous flow translates to higher fluid retention and pooling of the blood. Reduced lymphatic drainage means that lymph fluids, which normally carry waste away from the cells, are trapped in the area. The septae connective tissue may begin to become more fibrous.

In this stage, all of the changes are not visible to the naked eye. There may not be any other symptoms, with the possible exception of cuts and bruises taking longer to heal because of the impaired circulation.

 Stage Two

Once circulation is lessened, the capillaries and veins become weakened and leak blood into the surrounding tissue. This increases the pressure in the tissue, and restricts circulation and fluid drainage even more.
In this stage, you may notice thicker and more tender skin than normal, as well as discoloration or broken veins. The skin may also bruise more easily. However, there is no appearance of the lumpy cellulite bumps yet.

 Stage Three

After a few months of lymphatic fluid build up, the fat tissue become swollen and begin to push against the outer skin. In this stage, the first signs of lumps and the “orange peel” look appear.

 Stage Four

The stagnant lymphatic fluid cause the fibrous septae to congeal into thicker fibers. Cells starved of oxygen and nutrients may also become incorporated into these fibers, thus adding to the fibers’ thickness.
These fibers begin to trap and squeeze the fat cells, which press on the surrounding tissue and reduce even more circulation in the area. Because of the lack of circulation, the skin may feel cold to the touch.

 Stage Five

Because of the high pressure, blood circulation is re-routed around the cellulite area. Septae fibers continue to grow to an extent that the fat cells are completely trapped. Although fat continues to be stored in these cells, it is not efficiently removed from it (through exercise or diet) because of the poor circulation.

In this stage, the thick fibers, trapped fat cells, and stagnant fluids form a huge honeycomb structure called steatomes. This causes large lumps and bumps that are the hallmarks of cellulite.