What is cellulitis?

This type of localized obesity is characterized by fatty tissue that remains more or less locked in nearby tissue that is thicker and harder than usual. The tissue that surrounds fatty cells, called connective tissue, becomes thicker, more glutinous. The fluid exchanges between tissues diminish and water retention increases. This water then changes into jelly and stores itself in the thickness of the connective tissue. The connective tissue loses its suppleness and becomes much less efficient, more or less capable of ensuring nutritious exchanges. Moreover, it has been noted that cellulitis responds little or not at all to dieting.


The look of cellulitis

The skin takes a very unsightly lumpy and flabby look that recalls waves and that is often sensitive to local pressure. Many women pinch their skin in order to make this orange-peel skin show up. This is not a sign to detect cellulitis contrary to popular belief.

Many slightly plump babies have this orange-peel skin look on their buttocks. It surely cannot be said that they have cellulitis! Nothing beats looking at oneself in the mirror. If you notice rolls of flesh where there shouldn’t be any and if, when you stretch the thigh’s skin upward, the rolls are still there, you can then suspect the presence of cellulitis.

Possible Causes

Several hypotheses have been put forward concerning the possible causes of cellulitis. Some of these include stress, bad elimination of wastes due to circulatory disorders, constipation and bad liver operation.

These are general causes. Many people with these disorders do not produce cellulitis and a great number of women with cellulitis do not have any of these disorders.

Some people mention heredity or rather heritage of a trend, of a metabolism favouring this phenomenon. But it is difficult to evaluate its extent.

The most plausible hypothesis is that of a disorder related to the hormonal process because this problem affects practically only women. Often the aggravation of cellulitis occurs during the different periods of a woman’s active genital life (puberty, pregnancy, intake of contraceptives, premenopause).

Cellulitis affects more the curvatures characteristic of women at the hip, buttocks and thigh level. It can be seen in other parts of the body but that is less frequent.

More or less effective treatments for cellulitis

Drugs like pills and suppositories seem clinically little effective.

Hot baths and whirlpool baths have the effect of dilating the superficial vessels and of temporarily increasing circulation but they do not directly act on cellulitis.

Physical exercise and walking are not effective either. They are recommended because they activate circulation and tend to make tissues firmer by improving their tone.

It is important to avoid taking on weight since there will be fat accumulations that will store themselves first in the preferred sites of cellulitis. A diet rich in protein to maintain good muscle structure but poor in fat and sugar to avoid gaining weight is recommended. Drinking a lot of water promotes better elimination of wastes through the kidneys.

In general, it is suggested to avoid salt for those who tend to produce edema (swelling) and experience congestions in the premenstrual phase. Salt does not put on weight and to avoid taking salt does not help lose weight.

Treatments that are effective on cellulitis

We cannot act directly on the causes of cellulitis because we do not yet understand them well enough; we, therefore, try to correct its effects. We, however, need to know that cellulitis will reappear eventually. Cellulitis cannot be healed but it can be controlled.

Enzyme injections aim at returning to the liquid form the water that has turned to jelly in the connective tissue and to transform the fatty substances locked in the fatty cells into smaller molecules that will be eliminated more easily. They also soften the fibrous strips that create traction on the skin, thereby resulting in the typical depressions of cellulite.

Clinically enzymes play a very useful role in reducing the rolls of flesh, i.e. in reducing cellulitis. They are catalyzers. A catalyzer is a chemical substance that, when introduced in the course of a chemical reaction, supports it.

Recently the promising effects of caffeine- and aminophylline-based creams have been reported in US dermatology conventions and in certain Canadian articles on dermatology. These creams help blood circulation and nutrition exchanges, thereby lessening the appearance of orange-peel skin.

But you must remember that there is no miracle drug for the treatment of cellulitis, though some seem more effective than others.

Subcision consists in freeing under the skin small areas of fixation or depression using tiny blades that will enable raising the skin. This technique requires no incision or stopping of one’s daily activities.

Lipotransfer consists in freeing under the skin fat cells grouped in small lumps and in distributing them evenly. This technique involves no fat extraction (as in the case of liposuction). Lipotransfer, however, requires local anesthesia as well as wearing a pressure garment for 2 weeks. (See also Liposculpture)

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