Cellulite is a condition of subcutaneous fat, which causes the skin relief to become coarser and the skin gets an orange peel-like appearance. The skin feels just as rough as the known orange fruit. Cellulite is therefore commonly referred to as an ‘orange peel syndrome.

One thing may be clear: cellulite is something different than cellulitis – terms that people often mix up with. Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the subcutaneous connective tissue – often associated with redness, swelling and fever. In the medical world, when a term ends on ‘itis’ it means that it is an inflammation. With cellulite, there is no inflammation: it is an adherence and swelling of the subcutaneous connective tissue structure. It’s a lot different from ‘orange peel syndrome.

Oestrogen plays a part

If you suffer from cellulite: it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Almost 98 per cent of Dutch women say they are dealing with it, although the severity of course differs by individual. Cellulite is largely hereditary: your genes determine whether you have the predisposition to develop uneven skin. In addition to genetic predisposition, hormones also play a major role in the development of cellulite. Especially oestrogen, the so-called female hormone, promotes fat storage in the cells. This causes the fat cells to swell on buttocks, hips and thighs. Particularly in puberty, during pregnancy and menopause, this hormone has a major influence on the skin.

There are several causes for cellulite, here are some:

Stagnation of the blood and lymph circulation with associated moisture build-up. This means that wastes cannot be dispelled from the body well and therefore stays between the fat cells.

  1. Clogged fat cells that cling together.
  2. Adherence of skin layers.
  3. Relaxation of the skin.
  4. Genetic formatting (heredity).
  5. Taxation of the liver, for example by alcohol use.
  6. Sleeping poorly.
  7. Medical causes or use of medicine.

It may be that you do not suffer from all of these, but only from a few. Not everyone has cellulite because of all eight reasons mentioned above.

Stress and diet

Stress is also a cause of cellulite. A low level of stress is healthy and normal. If you have excessive stress, this can have a detrimental effect on your skin. This does not happen immediately. Stress distorts the processing of fats and organizing of the skin: these are the causes of cellulite. If you are too tense, you do not breathe well and therefore you don’t get enough oxygen. Digestion also doesn’t not work well anymore, which leads to constipation and diarrhoea. Sleep disorders disturb our rest, which means we can’t sleep well any longer. When this happens, the body will no longer be able to rest, repair and heal properly.


Hormones are the biggest offenders. Especially when there is an imbalance between the two hormones, oestrogen and testosterone. If there is too much oestrogen in the body compared to testosterone, cellulite may develop. This is partly the reason that some women suffer from cellulite while others don’t. This is why, when you take the pill, you’re more likely to get cellulite. The pill contains two types of hormones: oestrogen and progestagen. That’s why the pill is called the ‘combination pill’.


You also get cellulite from the famous jojo effect (gaining and losing weight). If your weight varies, it will stretch your skin. When you get heavier, some of your dimples grow. But when you’re slimming, the thicker dimples don’t slim down more than the others. Underneath your epidermis, thick and thin vertical grease pads come side by side, where they form a pattern that takes over your skin. This is the first stage of ‘orange peel syndrome. However, cellulite consists of fat cells, and because fat cells grow when you gain weight, your cellulite will become more visible.

What happens precisely?

Cellulite causes bumps, dimples and dents and occurs on the hips, thighs and buttocks. In those places, the skin will feel rough when relaxed. The fat deposits are stored under the skin in “rooms” with walls of connective tissues. This causes the skin to locally be pushed outwards and the connective tissues pull the skin down. This causes dimples that alternate with bumps. Due to the reduced blood circulation in these areas, the skin feels cold and will tan less quickly brown in the sun. Cellulite spots are therefore better visible in the summer.

There are several levels of cellulite:

  • Light cellulite

Light cellulite is a form that is visible only when the skin is compressed or when you tighten your muscles.

  • Moderate cellulite

Moderate cellulite is lightly visible when relaxed and clearly visible when tense.

  • Deep cellulite

Deeper cellulite is always clearly visible.


Remember that all forms of cellulite are difficult to reduce. A slight form of cellulite can be treated to some extent: the tissue is still firm and the cellulite is visible only when squeezing the skin. When the metabolism of the skin is disturbed, cellulite asks for special treatment by a beauty specialist, masseur and/or physical therapist. There is a promising new therapy which is being researched: cryolisis. Fat cells are very sensitive to cold, through the use of cold during treatment, fat cells can be destroyed.

A combination of strength training and cardio training can help reduce the visible cellulite. Moderating alcohol consumption and reducing stress can also help. You may want to consider stopping the pill to check your hormones. Eating healthy foods and maintaining a stable, healthy weight can also help.


With infrared or laser therapy for example, the problem can also partly be addressed. Endometrial treatments are also on the rise. These include a kind of skin gymnastics. The treatment structures your connective tissue, promotes waste removal and stimulates blood circulation and the lymphatic system. For the disposal of all waste, it is important to drink a lot of water after treatment. Sports also help. Increasing the muscle mass below your cellulite will pull up your skin, which will improve your cellulite optically. You grow extra muscle mass by exercising regularly and doing strength training.

For all treatments against cellulite, you need to stay critical. It’s usually plastic surgeons who offer all sorts of special treatments, smears and trainings. Remember that they often have self-interest as well – so please inform yourself well.

But there’s more. Exercising is good for your body’s circulatory system and can reduce the build-up of your fat cells. Combine sports with healthy eating and living habits to minimize cellulite. Smoking also has a bad effect on cellulite – try not to do it, or as little as possible. Do not expect exercising, not smoking and eating healthy to instantly give you an even skin. Cellulite is genetically determined, as mentioned earlier, and there are only ways to minimize visible effects, but not to completely prevent or eliminate the “orange peel syndrome”. To stimulate your blood flow, you can use cups. These cups placed on the problem zones through a vacuum force. You grease your legs sufficiently with oil, then slide the cup back and forth over the zones. Your skin gets red immediately and it’s a bit painful, afterwards it also causes bruising which will happen less and less as you do the treatment more often. You can also get this treatment done by different beauty specialists, but it is important that you continue to do it regularly and do not stop treatment even when it gives you results.

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