Cellulite's aetiology: a review

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2013 Mar;27(3):273-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2012.04622.x. Epub 2012 Jul 3.


Cellulite, highly prevalent among women, represents a serious problem for many of them, and one of their main aesthetic concerns. It is difficult to pinpoint its aetiology and physiology/pathophysiology, as there are many factors that are involved in it, affect it, and many processes that are taking place simultaneously and sequentially. Our objective is therefore, to review the scientific scholarship on cellulite to explore the causes of its origin. We carried out a preliminary search of the Medline, Cochrane, and Web of Knowledge databases covering the period from 1978 to April 2011. As there is no specific key word for the phenomenon at hand, we used the following descriptors: adipose tissue, subcutaneous fat, subcutaneous tissue, connective tissue, skin, skin disease and dermis. This resulted in a retrieval of 26 articles contributing to relevant information on the aetiology of cellulite. As a result of our first research, we concluded that cellulite is a physiological phenomenon or at least, that it has a physiological origin, which is characteristic of women, and multi-causal, with the coexistence of a number of factors that trigger, perpetuate, or exacerbate it. The outstanding factors include, among others, connective tissue architecture, oestrogen action, microvascular alterations and certain genetic and hormonal characteristics. All of them provide us with future and novel clues to cellulite treatment, and is necessary to take some or all of these factors into account in developing an effective therapy. However, we are aware of the necessity of further investigation in this field.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / blood supply
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / pathology*
  • Skin Diseases / etiology*
  • Skin Diseases / genetics