Types of cellulite and their treatment: aqueous, fibrous or adipose

Cellulite can be fatty, fibrous or watery. Its characteristics are key to a satisfactory aesthetic treatment. We tell you more about it.

Last update: 01 October, 2022

Cellulite, also called “orange peel” is a skin disease that affects millions of women around the world. This pathology usually causes great discomfort and affects people’s self-esteem. Are you interested in knowing what the types of cellulite and their treatment are? Next we tell you.

The Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV) estimates that between 85 and 98% of women suffer from cellulite at some point in their lives. This is more common in white people and its incidence in men does not exceed 10%.

In most cases, the different types of cellulite are the early manifestation of an underlying problem. Such is the case of hormonal disorders, inadequate diets and intolerance to certain foods. Timely treatment is essential to improve the appearance of the skin and prevent its progression.

What is cellulite?

Cellulite or “orange peel” is known in aesthetic medicine as “edema-fibro-sclerotic panniculopathy (PEFE)”. It is a skin disease that appears as a result of metabolic and endocrine disorders.

It usually manifests with small lumps and irregular depressions on the skin surface. It is common at the level of the thighs, in the gluteal region, in the upper part of the arms and in the lower part of the abdomen, according to studies.

It usually appears during stages of hormonal changes in women, such as pregnancy or puberty. In itself, it is caused by an increase in the number and size of fat cells or adipocytes, with the consequent alteration of vascular drainage.

In this sense, there will be greater retention of fat and liquids, accompanied by hardening of the skin fibers, which gives the characteristic appearance of this condition. This aesthetic problem should not be confused with infectious cellulitis.

The latter is an inflammatory disorder that appears when the skin is invaded by pathogenic germs. Unlike orange peel skin, in infectious cellulitis the skin surface will be swollen, red, hot and painful to the touch.

Cellulite manifests as small dimples on the surface of the skin.


Cellulite symptoms

It is common for the symptoms of the different types of cellulite to appear during adolescence. In early forms there is usually an increase in the thickness of the skin without any other manifestations. In general, the following is presented:

  • Small depressions in the skin.
  • Irregular lumps.
  • deep nodules.
  • Decreased elasticity.
  • Feeling of heaviness or numbness in the area.
  • Pain on palpation in advanced cases.

Main causes

This condition has a mainly hormonal and genetic basis. Similarly, Weight variations are one of the factors that most contribute to its appearance. However, the main culprit is hormonal overproduction.

Excess hormones in the body promote abnormal functioning of adipocytes. The latter become inflamed and increase in size and number, until they become fat nodules. In addition, the skin fibers become more tense, which forms a rigid network that pulls down and gives the appearance of orange peel.

In general, the most frequent causes of cellulite are the following:

  • Puberty.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Use of exogenous estrogens.
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • Food abundant in fats, sodium and sugars.
  • Use of tight clothing.

What are the types of cellulite?

Today, Experts recognize three types of cellulite; fatty, fibrous and watery. These have different characteristics from each other and can appear in the same person.

adipose cellulite

It is the most common form of all types of cellulite. It is characterized by the fact that the affected area loses consistency, sinks easily when touched and clearly moves with movement or changes in posture. For this reason, it is also called “flaccid” or “soft” cellulite.

Similarly, there are often lumps and irregularities in the skin. Not usually accompanied by pain, but can produce a certain level of heaviness. In general, it is due to the accumulation of fat under the skin due to poor diet, lack of physical exercise or drastic dietary plans.

Likewise, it is usually located on the buttocks, hips, thighs, waist, abdomen and the inside of the knees. In general, to promote its reduction, the following is recommended:

  • Reduce the consumption of saturated fats and processed foods.
  • Incorporate foods that are high in fiber and good fats, such as avocado and olive oil.
  • Increase water intake.

Secondly, localized anti-cellulite massages are very useful. Some procedures such as pressotherapy, mesotherapy and carboxytherapy also work.



Fibrous cellulite

It is the most difficult type of cellulite to eliminate. This is common in young women with obesity, and even in thin women. Usually, the affected skin usually becomes hardened, like a compact block, product of the thickening of the septa that trap the fat nodules. It is often called “hard” or “compact” cellulite.

Similarly, it is characterized by being painful to the touch, due to the compression of the nerves in the area. In addition, the skin is often under a lot of tension and promotes the appearance of stretch marks. Sometimes the affected area can become cold.

This type of cellulite typically forms on the buttocks, knees, inner thighs, and arms. Treatment recommendations include a balanced, high-protein, low-fat diet. Physical exercise also has a therapeutic advantage.

The most useful aesthetic treatments are LPG endermology and ultrasound. For its part, body radiofrequency has also provided good results in a large number of people with this type of cellulite.

watery cellulite

Aqueous cellulite is also known as “edematous cellulite”. In it, characteristics of the two types of cellulite described above are usually observed at the same time. In most cases, the affected skin is soft and pliable to the touch. In addition, it may or may not be accompanied by pain.

Its presence is related to fluid retention, product of problems in the lymphatic or venous circulation. It is classically located on the thighs, buttocks, abdomen and arms. Affected people often report heaviness and swelling in the legs.

The most effective aesthetic treatment is lymphatic drainage by pressotherapy. Similarly, the use of electrosculpture or endermology is advisable to recover the firmness and elasticity of the skin. Likewise, medium-impact sports are ideal for recovering muscle tone and reducing excess fat.

Aesthetic treatments available

Currently, there are a large number of drugs that help destroy fatty tissue and improve cellulite. Such is the case of drugs with a lipolytic effect, microcirculation activators, phosphatidylcholine and retinol.

Dermatologists are the professionals trained to diagnose and classify the types of cellulite. Based on this, they will also guide you towards an appropriate treatment. The most common aesthetic methods to treat this condition are the following:

  • High energy acoustic waves.
  • Radiofrequency and ultrasound.
  • LPG endermology.
  • Pressotherapy.
  • Body mesotherapy.
  • Carboxytherapy.
The combination of healthy habits and some aesthetic therapies can greatly reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Recommendations to prevent the types of cellulite

Cellulite is a condition that can be prevented through small changes in habits and lifestyle. Some of the most useful recommendations to reduce the risk of suffering from this aesthetic problem include the following:

  • Increase intake of vitamin C, vitamin E and potassium.
  • Reduce the consumption of foods with sodium, fats and sugars.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and coffee.
  • Eliminate the smoking habit.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Exercise regularly, at least 2 to 3 times a week.

A frequent aesthetic problem in women

As you can see, there are different types of cellulite and their treatment varies according to the characteristics and severity of the condition. Right now, your dermatologist can guide you toward a variety of strategies to minimize its appearance and improve skin health. Do not hesitate to consult!

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