It's common to develop cellulite along the legs, particularly among women.
Images of models and celebrities in bikinis and skimpy clothing almost always show smooth, dimple-free skin. But for real people, the reality is much different. Scientific American reports that 90 percent of women and 10 percent of men have cellulite, and cellulite seems to be the "standard" way women develop fat, particularly as they age. Several factors contribute to the development of cellulite, and there's no completely reliable treatment.
What Causes Cellulite?
The dimply appearance of cellulite is caused by thick bands of connective tissue that attach the skin to the muscle. As fat pushes up against the skin and connective tissue, it increases the appearance of cellulite. Many women begin developing cellulite during puberty, particularly along the hips and thighs, which often develop significant fat deposits as hormone levels soar. Any weight gain, however, can contribute to the development of cellulite, and some people find that they get more cellulite as they age. You're most likely to get cellulite on your thighs -- particularly on the backs of the thighs -- but you can get it anywhere on your legs.
Cellulite should be seen as a normal type of fat that, for most women, is nearly impossible to avoid. However, some factors can increase the likelihood that you develop cellulite or make the cellulite you have more noticeable. MayoClinic.com emphasizes that inactivity, stress and using hormonal birth control can all increase cellulite. Aging causes the skin to lose elasticity, but lifestyle factors that speed up skin aging, such as sunbathing, can make your skin lose elasticity more quickly, leading to the development of cellulite.
Exercise is one of the most effective treatments for cellulite because it can reduce fat. When there's less fat to push up against the connective tissue that creates cellulite, your skin will look less dimply. However, even with regular exercise, it's more likely you'll reduce the appearance of cellulite rather than eliminate it entirely.
Laser and radiofrequency treatment are two promising new techniques for treating cellulite, according to the Mayo Clinic. Results are temporary, lasting about six months. Cellulite creams, pills and similar over-the-counter treatments are generally ineffective, though the Mayo Clinic points out that Retinol cream may help. Liposuction can reduce the appearance of fat and may help reduce fat, but can actually make cellulite more noticeable.