Contrary to popular belief, cellulite is not actually fat. In fact, cellulite is a nonharmful cosmetic skin condition that affects the appearance of skin in localized areas. Usually found on more fatty areas of the body, cellulite can appear on hips, thighs, buttocks, breasts, and abdomen.
To everyday people, cellulite is often referred to as orange-peel or cottage cheese skin, hail damage, and the mattress phenomenon because of the creation of lumps and dimples on the surface of skin.1 On the other hand, medical professionals refer to the condition as edematous fibrosclerotic panniculopathy (EFP), gynoid lipodystrophy, or adiposis edematosa.2
The texture of cellulite is created when deposits of subcutaneous fat found throughout connective tissue expand in the deeper layers of skin.3 The fatty tissue pushes through the vertical fibrous bands, medically referred to as septa, that ultimately connect skin to muscle matter. The septa run perpendicular to the surface of skin, so the bunched-up fat deposits pull through the skin layers which results in the puckered finish to the epidermis.
Throughout the epidermis and dermis, fat cells naturally store excess energy. Since septa links the upper layers of skin to deeper tissue, these vertical bands create miniature chambers for fat cells to live. However, once the fat cells begin to expand, the chambers bulge through to the surface of skin with the septa still tethered in place. The fat chambers balloon upward while the septa create a valley in between, creating a cratered surface known as cellulite.
These irregular connective tissue patterns below the epidermis create honeycomb-like compartments in the adipose tissue which cause skin to dimple. It is important to note that cellulite is completely unrelated to cellulitis though the similar names may suggest otherwise. Cellulitis is the inflammation of skin and underlying tissue by means of a traveling bacterial infection.4
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Amanda Azar Walsh, L.M.E., is a professional makeup artist, medical aesthetician, and body wrapper based in South Florida. She is the founder and executive artist of Azar Beauty, and lead artist for NewsmaxTV, Pelican Grand’s Pure Spa, and Studio 1 Talent Specialists. Walsh has a degree in business management from Florida Atlantic University, diplomas in fashion makeup from Cosmix School of Makeup Artistry and Paramedical Aesthetics from Southeastern College, is dual-licensed, and holds over 40 certifications. She is a member of the National Association of Professional Businesswomen, National Aesthetic Spa Network, Look Good Feel Better, and a RAW Artist alumni.