Cellulite: a review of its physiology and treatment

J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2004 Dec;6(4):181-5. doi: 10.1080/14764170410003057.


Cellulite affects 85-98% of post-pubertal females of all races. While not a pathologic condition, it remains an issue of cosmetic concern to a great number of individuals. Despite its high prevalence, there have been few scientific investigations into the physiology of cellulite. There have only been a few dozen peer-reviewed articles devoted to cellulite in the medical literature in the past 30 years. There is no definitive explanation for its presentation. This greatly complicates the ability to treat or improve it. The four leading hypotheses that purport to explain the physiology of cellulite include: sexually dimorphic skin architecture, altered connective tissue septae, vascular changes and inflammatory factors. Treatment modalities can be divided into four main categories: attenuation of aggravating factors, physical and mechanical methods, pharmacological agents and laser. There are no truly effective treatments for cellulite.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology*
  • Connective Tissue / physiology
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy
  • Subcutaneous Tissue / physiology