Cellulite isn't just fat. And according to medical research, it's not a buildup of toxins in your skin, either. Instead, it's the result of a combination of the structures of skin, subcutaneous fat, connective tissue and muscle.
Imagine several layers of tissue. At the base we have a layer of muscle. At the top we have the layer of skin. In between we have a layer of subcutaneous fat. Connective tissue anchors the skin to muscles. The structure of this connective tissue is different for women and men.
The connective tissue for women forms in vertical columns. Men's connective tissue looks more like a net or crisscross pattern. That's why more women have to deal with cellulite than men -- their connective tissue is partly to blame.
Normally, fat cells nestle between the columns of connective tissue. But as these cells grow larger (or more fat cells are added to the bunch), they press against the skin. Because the connective tissue attaches the skin to the muscle in vertical columns for women, the skin bulges as the fat cells grow or accumulate. With men, the connective tissue holds a tighter grip on the skin. That minimizes the conditions for cellulite.
In addition, women have thinner skin than men. Thin skin has less resistance to the force of the fat cells pressing against it. And as we age, our connective tissue tends to become less elastic. Stiff connective tissue may make cellulite particularly difficult to shed. Even weight loss may not help because the connective tissue will stay firm -- you'd simply swap out bulges for dimples.
Because cellulite formation depends upon connective tissue, any treatment that doesn't address the connective tissue problem won't cure the condition. Without restructuring the way skin connects to muscle, the potential for cellulite will remain. Currently, the most we can hope for with cellulite treatments is to relieve the symptoms temporarily.