Cellulite is not strictly a medical term but has entered the domain of medicine through plastic and cosmetic surgeons who are faced with an increasing number of individuals, 95 per cent of whom are women, who struggle with this deforming condition.

Cellulite is a rippling formation in the deeper layers of the skin, found predominantly in areas where fat is deposited. Cellulite can be symptomless and simply disfiguring, or may cause discomfort, a feeling of tension or tightness and, rarely, pain.

Below the superficial and dermal layers of the skin lies a layer of fat. This is more prominent in women of any age and therefore the condition is more common in this sex. The fat cells are kept apart by a type of tissue called connective tissue, which literally connects the different types of tissues throughout the body. Certain foods and conditions cause this connective tissue to degenerate, pushing the fat cells together in an irregular shape and closer to the surface of the skin.

Cellulite is divided into three groups:

Stage one – the skin is smooth until it is pinched, when the pitted effect become visible. Stage two – the pitting becomes visible on tensing the underlying muscle or on standing. Stage three – the pitting is visible at all times.


Reducing the fat content in the body will reduce the fat layer under the skin and thereby reduce the cellulite effect.

Strengthening the muscles underneath the area where cellulite is prominent will increase blood flow and maintain or even repair the loss of connective tissue in that area thus reducing the fat stores as mentioned above.

Massage of the area, both professionally and by the individual, will help to break down some of the fat conglomeration and also increase blood flow and support the connective tissue structure.

A compound called Centella asiatica, an extract from a plant, can be taken by adults at a strength of 30mg with food three times a day. This plant extract helps to restructure connective tissue and is the only botanical treatment with reasonable scientific evidence.

An interesting paradox. There is a compound called Cola vera that contains 14 per cent caffeine. Applied in a solution up to 1.5 per cent locally it can be beneficial. However, caffeine has been cited as being a cause of cellulite if taken orally and it is important for anyone fighting a cellulite battle to avoid coffee, tea, caffeine-containing canned drinks and chocolate.

Many cosmetic preparations are based on hydrating the area, which simply pushes water into the pitted skin causing it to swell and lose some of its unsightly appearance. Once you stop using the application, the problem will return within a few days.