Cellulite and Menopausal Women

What is the menopause and how does it promote cellulite?

As women age, their ability to produce female sex hormones diminishes.

This is due to a number of follicles, known as the Graafian follicles, which are responsible for this production of the female sex hormones becoming exhausted.

This is a catalyst for a number of physical and physiological changes which continue for an extended period of time which can have a extreme effect on a woman’s emotional behavior.

Part of the physical changes see that your largest organ, the skin, is to be affected by both female sex hormones: estrogens and progesterone.

When a female experiences the menopause, she will be subject to a decreased concentration of estrogen.

This decrease of estrogen produces a reduction in vascular tone and effects circulation.

This does not allow optimum flow of the smallest of blood vessels, therefore, not allowing all of the nutrients to reach the skin.

This is a contributing factor to the development of cellulite.

Another contributing factor to cellulite is that due to a reduction in estrogen production the skins connective tissue production also decreases which includes a reduction in the development of collagen and elastin fibers.

[Ciupińska M, Noszczyk M. Kosmetologia pielęgnacyjna i lekarska. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Lekarskie PZWL; 2010. Pielęgnacja ciała. Częste problemy estetyczne i zdrowotne sylwetki i skóry ciała; pp. 189–209.]

In addition to cellulite, a woman may also notice skin discoloration and an increase in body hair.

How does cellulite affect women?

For one, the change in appearance of the skin can affect a persons mental state and quality of life, as such, the World Health Organization do classify cellulite as a disease.

[Pura-Rynasiewicz A. Dermatologia i Uroda. Wiosna-Lato; 2010. Cellulit – choroba czy defekt kosmetyczny? pp. 3–4.]

Physically and medically, cellulite is the depletion of connectivity tissue and circulation.

What is cellulite?

Essentially, cellulite is caused by a hormone imbalance.

This is whereby there are higher levels of estrogen compared to progesterone. This is known as hyperestrogenism.

[Woźniak M, Zegarska B, Kaczmarek-Skamira E. Cellulit (III). Patogeneza. Dermatologia Estetyczna. 2011;3:149–150.]

This occurs predominantly when a woman is either pregnant, being older or during the menopause, not withstanding taking hormone contraception or taking hormome replacement therapy.

Cellulite itself is also heavily influenced by fat cells…

It is two constantly occurring processes called lipogenesis and lipolysis.

(You can read more of that, here.)

Many people can identify cellulite by its crater like, uneven bumpy surface on the skin.

It is most commonly found around the thigh, stomach and buttock area of the woman, whereas when men experience cellulite it tends to be located around the neck and stomach.

Kos-Kudła B, Staszewicz P. Otyłość u kobiet w okresie około- i pomenopauzalnym. In: W: Skalba P, editor. Hormonalna terapia zastępcza. Wyd. II. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Lekarskie PZWL; 2005. pp. 316–333.]

It mainly affects women, but can also affect men who may be on treatment to lower their natural test levels if they are suffering from prostate issues for instance.

It is important to note that there is no direct link between obesity and cellulite. Even people who are not obese or overweight and are active can suffer from cellulite.

There are three types of cellulite that can be identified, these are:

  1. Fatty – this is due to over developed fatty tissues
  2. Lymphatic – this is more evident prior to menstruation
  3. Alleged – when cellulite is visible around the thighs, this can be due to a weakening of the muscle to the rear of the thigh – the glutes

The symptoms of cellulite are exacerbated by a number of factors which do include hormonal irregularities but also genetics have a part to play.

Some factors regarding genetic make up do have an effect on muscle mass and fat deposit levels.

However, diets that include lots of carbohydrates and fats increases the process of storing fats for energy, not to mention diets high in sugar and salt which can increase swelling from the retention of liquids.

If this is combined with a lifestyle that does not include lots of physical exercise and activity, it will not aid circulation and will increase the accumulation of fat tissues.

However, it is not all about diet and exercise.

Smoking will also have a negative effect as it not support oxygen supply to the tissues as the blood vessels are constricted.

Clothing and footwear can also have an effect of cellulite.

If clothing is tight and heels being high it can have an adverse effect on blood flow, plus an adverse effect on posture and cause undue stress to the muscles.

Now, there are certain factors that will have a negative effect on cellulite more than others, however, to try to treat cellulite, each and every factor that is accounted for and actions taken to minimize the condition will add up to more of a benefit.

Is there an anti – cellulite treatment?

Cellulite is considered a disease by the World Health Organization and can affect many women who are past their adolescent stages.

The appearance is considered unattractive and can resemble orange peel, which tends to be visible around the thigh, particularly around the rear of the thigh area.

Much of the common misconception is that the cause for cellulite is due to being overweight, while overdeveloped fatty tissues are a contributing factor and can make the condition worse, it is not the only reason behind its development.

Cellulite also affects women who are active and slim in appearance too, and while fatty tissues can be part of the condition, it is also due to the hormone imbalance experienced during the menopause which causes skin productive tissues to degenerate, not withstanding the negative vascular and circulatory effects.

It is then, effectively a two pronged attack…

Both hormone related and fatty tissue related.

However, it must be understood that while it may not appear attractive to some people, it is entirely natural, normal and is the body’s response to maximize the fat deep beneath the skin for purposes of lactation and providing the adequate calories required for pregnancy.

What options are there for reducing cellulite?

There are dietary options that are readily and easily available, not requiring prescriptions or expensive treatments, such as:

  • Weight loss can help, however, depending on the level of fat mass, weight loss will have differing effects.

Those who are obese may not see a great deal of difference that will be potentially appreciated as much as someone who is less overweight.

Yet, weight loss works by the fat globules retracting from the deep tissue beneath the skin (dermis).

  • Massaging the skin can help lessen the activity of Adipocytes (fat cells) which can expand in size or in some cases dividing and increasing in number.
  • Increasing body heat through thermogenic supplements will then reduce the activity of the fat cells to increase and store more fat if calorific input exceeds calorific expenditure.

Thermogenic activity increases can also benefit circulatory activity and improve the skin.

  • The catechins found in green tea have thus far offered positive results for treating the effects of cellulite.
  • Caffeine and Xanthanine from green tea and coffee is also reported to suppress the effects of cellulite. As are B vitamins, particularly B12, B5, B9 and B1

READ: Safe and effective thermogenic supplements containing green tea and B vitamins

[Int J Cosmet Sci. 2006 Jun;28(3):175-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2494.2006.00318.x.]

There are also medical and cosmetic treatments available too.

These include but are not limited to:

  • Lymphatic drainage – eliminating swelling
  • Endermology – this increases the oxidization of tissues and increases skin elasticity
  • Infra Red rays – triggering thermogenesis
  • Liposuction – removing excess fat
  • Cryotherapy – effectively destroying fat cells

Are there any risks surrounding cellulite treatment?

It is impossible to eliminate cellulite altogether, please do not think there is a quick fix or an absolute treatment to cellulite.

The studies show that as of yet, there is no final solution to eradicating cellulite in menopausal or non-menopausal women.

[Avram MM. Cellulite: a review of its physiology and treatment. Journal of Cosmetics and Laser Therapy. 2004;6:181–185]

However, the general appearance of the skin can be much improved…

The best form of treatment for menopausal women who are suffering from cellulite which can effect their self esteem is a combination of dietary and cosmetic therapies, not withstanding an increase in physical activity.

With dietary treatments being the easiest and safest application, the use of cosmetic procedures carries the most risk.

Any uses of cosmetic therapy should have a prior medical consultation and interview to ensure the treatment will not have an adverse effect.

This will assess any prior or current medical conditions which may unearth any diseases that could potentially relegate treatment as not being feasible, safe or successful.

Conditions such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes and collapsed veins would deem invasive treatments implausible.

Is there an anti cellulite solution for menopausal women?

While there is no absolute solution to treating and therefore eradicating cellulite in menopausal women, there are ways in which the disease can be reduced, become manageable and help increase self confidence and self esteem.

From studies and current knowledge cosmetics are unable to alter or demonstrate any positive effect upon physiological tissues that have already changed to form cellulite.

However, there are promising effects deriving from compounds found in coffee, green tea, thermogenics and B vitamins which are found in some fat burner supplements.

Notwithstanding the benefits found from massaging the skin and physical exercise which can tighten the muscles around the areas most effected, such as the glutes, as this affects women who are both larger and slim.

[Kasprzak W, Mańkowska A. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Lekarskie PZWL; 2008. Fizykoterapia, medycyna uzdrowiskowa i SPA; pp. 332–339.]

The methods outlined, while satisfactory to reducing the effects of cellulite, are short lived and must be continued to provide long term benefits.

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