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Can Water Retention Cause Cellulite?



Water retention CAN cause cellulite.

Research published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, hypothesized that vascular changes in the dermis, create a series of complex events in the cells that cause cellulite.  Researchers noted that the deterioration of the blood vessels of the skin sparked a series of events that produced the retention of excess fluids.  Over time edema, hypoxia, and vascular congestion lead to a thickening of the septae tissue causing cellulite. [Rossi, Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology]


What Is Cellulite?

Gynoid lipodystrophy, more commonly known as cellulite, is fat that deposits within the fibrous connective tissue just below the skin’s surface giving it a dimpled appearance.  The cause of cellulite is widely misunderstood by the general population and a highly controversial subject within the scientific community.  Several studies exist that hypothesize the cause of cellulite, but there is yet to be a general consensus.

Cellulite Caused by Irregularities in Fibrous Connective Tissue (Sexually Dimorphic Skin Architecture)

Eighty-five to ninety eight percent of post adolescent women have some degree of cellulite.  [Avram, Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy]Yet it is uncommon in men prompting the researchers at the Laboratory of Human Behavior and Metabolism, Rockefeller University, New York to explore the hypothesis that the incidence of cellulite lies with the differences in the physiological makeup that exists between the sexes.  Both men and women have fat present in the subdermal layer of the skin.  The physiological difference between the sexes lies in the connective tissue.  The connective tissue in men appears to assist in the expansion rather than protrusion of fat deposits, whereas women have connective tissue that allows fat deposits into the dermis, the visible layer of the skin, causing a bumpy appearance.  [Rosenbuam, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery]

Cellulite Caused by Altered Connective Tissue

Researchers from the Department of Dermatopathology, University Medical Center of Liège, Belgium hypothesize that enlarged connective tissue strands shield subcutaneous fat from protruding to the skin’s surface and that cellulite occurs as the result of these connective tissue being overcome by sustained fat accumulation. [Pie´rard, Am J Dermatopathol]



Avram, Matthew. “Cellulite: a review of its physiology and treatment.” Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy 6.4 (2004): 181-185. Print.

Rosenbaum, M, and et al. “An exploratory investigation of the morphology and biochemistry of cellulite.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 101.7 (1998): 1934-9. Print.

Pie´rard GE, Nizet JL, Pierard-Franchimont C. Cellulite: from standing fat herniation to hypodermal stretch marks. Am J Dermatopathol 2000; 22: 34–7.

Rossi, A. B. R. and Vergnanini, A. L. (2000), Cellulite: a review. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 14: 251–262Vascular Changes

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