Feature Archive

Getting Rid of Cellulite

Is there anything a woman can do to get rid of her cellulite?

WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith

"It started out on my upper thighs ... now it's creeping down to my knees!" says Maria Johnston (not her real name), a spunky, athletic, 43-year-old from Miami, Fla. "How much lower is it going to go? To my ankles?"

Maria is not talking about her hair, or her hemline. She's talking about cellulite, that bumpy, orange-peel-like fat bemoaned by women everywhere.

While it might look like an alien life-form burrowing beneath your skin, cellulite is simply normal fat. It looks bumpy because it's pushing through the connective tissues that usually keep it distributed evenly beneath your skin. The total amount of fat in your body, your age, and your genetic predisposition (blame your parents!) all combine to determine if you'll be saddled with cellulite or not.

While it's impossible to know just how many women are driven batty by cellulite, John Morgan, MD, a dermatologist in Columbia, S.C., estimates that about 85% of women have some cellulite. It is a surprisingly equal opportunity annoyance, appearing on thin and heavy women alike.

Maria has spent more than $5,000 trying to get rid of her cellulite, with varying results. She exercises twice a week with a personal trainer and eats a low-fat diet. Still, she's wary. "I see women who are younger than me, in better shape than me, who work out harder than I do, and they still have cellulite," Maria laments.