Symptoms and Signs of Cellulitis

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 6/30/2022

Doctor's Notes on Cellulitis

Cellulite is composed of deposits of normal fat cells in the connective tissue of the skin (dimple formation) of the lower abdomen, hips, buttocks and upper thighs. It has no symptoms and is not a sign of disease; however, many people do not like its appearance (dimpled appearance of the skin). About 80-90% of all adult women have cellulite – it is less frequent in men.

The cause of the of the dimpling of the skin is thought to be due to the accumulation of normal fat cells in the connective tissue just below the deepest layer of the skin. What causes the accumulation of the cells is unclear.

What is the treatment for cellulite?

The American Academy of Dermatology consider cellulite treatment as cosmetic; they published a list (2021) of “best results” according to research studies. “Best results” vary and are gained usually with multiple treatments. Unfortunately, for most individuals, cellulite returns slowly. The list includes:

  • Acoustic wave therapy
  • Laser treatments
  • Subcision
  • Vacuum-assisted precise tissue release
  • Weight loss
  • Exercise
  • Creams  and/or lotions
  • Deep massage while lifting skin with a vacuum
  • Ionithermie
  • Radiofrequency

Other treatments were rated “too early to tell’ or not recommended to treat cellulite. For example:

Because treatment of cellulite is cosmetic or optional, you would be wise to discuss cellulite treatments with a dermatologist who can help you to decide the safest and most effective protocol to address the problem.  

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.