Cellulite: advances in treatment: facts and controversies

Clin Dermatol. 2013 Nov-Dec;31(6):725-30. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2013.05.009.


Cellulite is traditionally considered a highly prevalent aesthetic condition in women. From a clinical standpoint, it is characterized by a cottage-cheese-like appearance of the skin, which can be most commonly found in certain areas of the body (eg, thighs, buttocks, and legs). Although cellulite is generally asymptomatic, the more severe stages can be accompanied by the appearance of painful nodules and increased local temperature, which are suggestive of an inflammatory reaction occurring in the dermis and in the underlying subcutaneous adipose tissue. Whether cellulite is a real disease or only a disturbing aesthetic issue is still a matter of controversy. This debate notwithstanding, it seems clear from market trends that there is considerable commercial interest in developing effective strategies aimed at reducing the cottage-cheese-like appearance of cellulite areas. Quite disturbingly, the majority of treatment attempts to date have been conducted in an empirical manner and without the application of rigorous scientific methodology. This is likely due--at least in part--to the lack of major, evidence-based pathophysiological insights into the nature of this condition. More stringent regulatory control is needed over commercial products aiming at improving the appearance of cellulite.

MeSH terms

  • Buttocks
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg
  • Obesity / pathology*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Skin Diseases / pathology*
  • Skin Diseases / physiopathology
  • Subcutaneous Fat / pathology*
  • Subcutaneous Fat / physiopathology
  • Thigh