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Good Question: Why Do Women Get Cellulite?

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(credit: CBS) Heather Brown
Heather Brown loves to put her innate curiosity to work to answer yo...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Every year, people spend billions of dollars trying to get rid of cellulite, a condition that occurs in 70-90 percent of women.

Men get it too, but it’s very rare.

So, that had us wondering: Why do women get cellulite?

According to Dr. Elizabeth Farhat, a dermatologist with Allina Health Clinic, the big reason is hormones.

Estrogen means women tend to have more fat than men, but where they store it and the structure of the skin play major contributing factors.

“In women, the skin and the underlying connective tissue is thinner and the fat layer is actually thicker. In men, their skin is actually thicker, the underlying connective tissue is thicker and their fat layer is thinner,” Dr. Farhat said. “So, the fat cells are not able to protrude out as much and cause that dimpled appearance in men.”

Men are more likely to hold their fat in their abdomen, while women store it in the buttocks and thighs. The reason cellulite is visible is because the muscles push out the fat against the connective tissues and skin.

Dr. Farhat says that because we move the muscles more in our lower body, they push out more against the fat layer. For men who carry weight in their stomach, that’s not as much of an issue.

“Your stomach is not a big muscle that you’re flexing all the time,” she said. “The hips and thighs you’re using to move around, and that’s causing more tension to push that fat out to the surface.”

Dr. Farhat says cellulite is hereditary, and those massages or creams advertised on television don’t work.

“Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence showing that those are helpful,” she said. “So I probably would not waste your money on creams.”

Experts say only a well-balanced diet and exercise that includes strength training will help a woman reduce cellulite.

Cindi Lockhart, senior program manager of nutrition and health coaching at Lifetime Fitness, recommends leg presses, squats and lunges to improve the muscle tone in thighs and buttocks.

Combined with an active lifestyle, overall body fat will decrease.

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