What Causes Cellulite on Thighs, Legs and Buttocks?


What causes cellulite? Here are cellulite causes including foods, coffee or caffeine intake, birth control, carbonation or sparkling water, fluid retention, skin structure, stress and many others. Find out what is cellulite, its causes in men and women, and its relationship with weight gain and genetics.

Ever heard of the mattress phenomenon? That is what people use to refer to cellulite in colloquial language. There is a clear definition and answer to what is cellulite, but before we get there, it is not just stretch marks but cellulite too that make aesthetic puzzles for most people, especially women starting puberty.

What causes cellulite on inner thighs, back of thighs and legs
What causes cellulite on inner thighs, back of thighs and legs?

 What is Cellulite?

Cellulite is a term that is used to describe the fat deposits that appear beneath the skin to cause a dimpled or bumpy look. According to Medicine News Today, cellulite is a condition in which some areas of the skin appear to have visible underlying fat deposits that give it a lumpy or dimpled appearance. A few creams such as Revitol Solution are formulated to remove the deposits by working on the structure of the skin.

Cellulite is easily noticeable on buttocks, thighs and generally the lower abdomen. Most women and men in puberty are likely to experience cellulite. The causes of cellulite at this stage are not very different from causes of cellulite at any other stage of growth of development.

In the medicine world, professionals refer to cellulite as dermopanniculosis, status protrusus cutis, adiposis adematosa and gynoid lipodystrophy. Ugh! There you are. What about the way the opposite side of medicine looks at the causes of cellulite and what it is? Well, when you hear of orange peel syndrome, hail damage, cottage cheese and as said before, the mattress phenomenon, just know that someone is referring to cellulite.

Skin structure can cause cellulite
Anatomy of cellulite

The reason why many people ask what is cellulite is because the term cellulite sounds like a medical term. But it is not. It just sounds as if it is a certain medical condition. In fact, cellulite is just normal fat under the skin only that it appears bumpy and unsightly because the fat keeps pushing up against the connective tissue and causing it to pucker or ‘corrugate’ to make small folds. In simple words, the simple answer to what it is that the name is fancy and given to the collection of that fat that keeps on pushing up against the skin causing dimples and bumps.

Is Cellulite Harmful?

Other than looking for the causes of cellulite, I noted that many people keep asking whether cellulite is harmful or indicates that there is some underlying health condition. Clear and truthful facts about these dimples are that it is not harmful in any way. The only reason why many people would like remove the bumps is that it is an aesthetic problem.

Another important fact to note is that it is not just for overweight people. According to WebMD, “even thin people can have cellulite” but losing excess weight may help reduce the appearance of the fat lumps. So what are the causes of cellulite on thighs, legs and buttocks?

What Causes Cellulite?

What causes cellulite on thighs, legs, buttocks and stomach? The formation of cellulite fat is based on the building behavior of a person’s fat cells and the connective tissue that helps keep them in place. In a simple understanding, even the way your skin is made up will contribute to the causes of cellulite. It is not scientifically statistical, but more women than men get cellulite at some point in their lives. This is because there are a number of more factors that cause cellulite or contribute to the development of cellulite in women. With that in mind, let us look at the different causes of cellulite.

Too much caffeine will cause fat lumps
Too much caffeine will cause fat lumps

Does Coffee Cause Cellulite on Buttocks, Stomach? (Caffeine)

What does caffeine intake have to do with cellulitis? According to Savvymiss on Cups of Coffee and Cellulite, “Caffeine can dehydrate and age the skin, which can make cellulite worse.” Most people suggest that there is no such relationship between caffeine and those dimples, but others claim that that is a myth.

However, studies have been able to prove that too much caffeine in the body, coming from too much coffee intake, can lead to weight gain. Weight gain is one of the reasons for those fat deposits that lead to cellulitis. In addition, too much caffeine may cause cellulite on buttocks and stomach because it reduces blood circulation by constricting vessels. This leads to poor fluid drainage and toxin accumulation in vulnerable areas such as buttocks, stomach and thighs. All these lead to cellulite lumps.

What Causes Cellulite on Thighs, Legs and Bum?

Cellulitis lumps on the back of thighs are commonly a result of weight gain and lack of exercise. Lifestyle is a major contributing factor to weight gain. It does not matter your age since you can get those bumps on the inner thighs or back of thighs if you do not firm up your thighs and legs.

If you watch your diet and avoid those foods that cause loose skin on the body and excess fat to be stored beneath your epidermis, you will be able to prevent cellulite easily. There is no specific cause of cellulite on legs and thighs, but you should watch all the points we have noted below, including stress and caffeine intake.

Does Carbonation Give Cause Cellulite? (Sparkling Water)

You have heard that soda gives those dimples. According to Livestrong, carbonation and cellulite may not be related in a direct way, but the amount of calories that are found in sugary carbonated sodas and sparkling water may cause you to have cellulitis and loose skin.

Does Birth Control Cause Cellulite? Hormones

Depo provera injection
Depo provera injection

Does a birth control shot give you cellulite Will going off birth control help my cellulite? We have discussed change of hormones as a cause of cellulitis below. It has been claimed that Yasmin birth control causes cellulite dimples on back thighs, stomach, legs and bum.

The reason behind these claims is that birth control may increase your body’s water retention and cause weight gain. These are two of the major causes of cottage cheese dimples. According to doctor on ZocDoc Inc, hormones triggered by contraceptives such as catecholamines, insulin, thyroid hormone, adrenaline and prolactin are all culprits. He goes ahead to explain that “There are claims that birth control pills (i.e., hormonal contraceptives) cause cellulite to form due to the presence of estrogen breaking down connective tissues.” (ZocDoc Answer)

What Foods Cause Cellulite?

How we get cellulite is highly related to the foods we eat. Having diets with a lot of carbohydrates, fat and salt contributes as one of the major causes of cellulite for many people. With such dietary combinations of too much carbs, fats and salts with less of fiber, greater amounts of cellulite will develop on the body. Surprisingly, cellulite diets help remove the lumps and bumps easily too. Here’s a list of foods that cause cellulite dimples.

Hormonal Factors

This could be one of the major causes of cellulite in women than men. Hormonal changes in the body contribute to the development of cellulite in various ways. Thyroid hormones, estrogen, insulin levels and prolactin hormones have been found to be part of the fat lumps development process.


Cellulite development is also associated with the presence of certain genes that predispose some people to particular characteristics that are associated with the fat dimples and lumps. The genetic factors that are likely part of the causes of cellulite include gender, race, fat distribution beneath the skin, slow metabolism and what doctors call circulatory insufficiency. You may not be in much control of such causes of cellulite when looking to get rid of cellulite.

Lifestyle Factors and Weight Gain

Weight Gain
Weight Gain

Lifestyle forms part of the major causes of cellulite. Studies have shown that cellulite is prevalent in people who smoke, people who do not do exercises as well as people who spend long hours seated or standing in one position.

Clothing can Cause Cellulite

Have you been wearing underwear with tight elastic parts across your buttocks and thighs? Such underwear limit blood flow and may contribute as causes of cellulite. When you go for cellulite treatment, you might be advised to wear underwear that is not tight on the body in order to allow blood to flow adequately throughout the body, especially the lower abdomen.

Thin Skin Epidermis

Some doctors attribute the development of cellulite in some patients to a thin skin epidermis. If you have been wondering why cellulite is more prevalent in women than men, then this, in addition to regular hormonal changes, could be the answer to the causes of cellulite in women.

Men are said to have a thicker epidermis, which means that their skin is much more resilient compared to that of women. A thin epidermis in women is more vulnerable to dimpling or lumpiness caused by cellulite. Proper exercise can help prevent cellulite caused by this, or at least help as a treatment for cellulite.

Does Stress Lead to Cellulitis?

Cellulite Causes (courtesy of skinsheen.com)
Cellulite Causes (courtesy of skinsheen.com)

Studies have also shown that stress factors can really increase the appearance of cellulite. That makes stress another of the surprising causes of cellulite. Most gynecological, digestive and circulatory problems can easily occur from prolonged tension caused by stress. Stress may change the way the liver functions in the process of food digestion and toxin elimination. Excessive storage of fat and sugar as well as the retention of toxins in the body is likely to alter the skin tissue, thus contributing as one of the causes of cellulite.

Water and Fluid Retention Causes Cellulite

During menstruation, women are said to retain more water, a factor that is similar to times when they are in stress. Water retention under the skin tissues is another significant cause of cellulite, although this does not need any special treatment of cellulite to go away. Women who follow a strict diet of no sugar and little salt during the times of major hormonal changes in their bodies are likely to aver this as one of the causes of cellulite.

Skin Structure or Architecture

The structures of the male and female skins are fundamentally different, thus pointing to yet another of the causes of cellulite in women more than in men. It is not possible to seek treatment for cellulite in this light, but being able to understand it as a contributory factor to the causes of cellulite is important. In a simple description, the fat cells in a female’s skin sit within separate compartments – large in size and occurring side by side forming columns. With a little increase in weight, these compartments overflow and expand vertically and causing cellulite.

On the other side, male skin cells have a crisscrossed pattern and sitting within smaller containers. So, the formation of fat forms big solid blobs that do not penetrate the epidermis of the skin easily. This cause of cellulite explains, a little, the prevalence of cellulite in women than men, and the unique causes of cellulite in men for that matter.

Celebrities Spotted with Cellulite

According to a website called About and After, the following celebrities were spotted to have cellulite. You can visit the website to see the before and after photos of cellulite on these celebrities. Well, now you know you are not the only one struggling with cellulite on your feet, buttocks, stomach and even legs.

  • Valeria Mazza
  • Alicia Silverstone
  • Britney Spears
  • Cameron Diaz
  • Cindy Crawford
  • Drew Barrymore
  • Eva Longoria
  • Isabeli Fontana
  • Hilary Swank
  • Chanelle Hayes
  • Danielle Lloyd
  • Fergie
  • Ivana Trump
  • Jessica Simpson
  • Mariah Carey
  • Rihanna


  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt
  • Mischa Barton
  • Evangeline Lilly
  • Halle Berry
  • Helen Hunt
  • Ines Sastre
  • Kim Kardashian


Can You Remove Cellulite?

Like other skin beauty problems such as stretch marks, there is no such solution that can completely get rid of cellulite. Many of the ways on how to get rid of cellulite concentrate more on helping reduce their appearance or even help in flattening the cellulite bumps. Cellulite is body fat and perhaps the best way on how to get rid of cellulite (or reduce it for that matter) would be to reduce your body fat.  The following are the methods of stretch mark treatment that people use to get rid of stretch marks.

Cellulite Creams: Most creams used for cellulite treatment are said to dissolve fat and help in smoothing the skin. Most of the cellulite removal creams contain aminophylline, which is a drug that is usually used in the treatment of asthma. Although some user reviews of cellulite creams may show that they work, there isn’t scientific evidence to show that these creams get rid of cellulite.

Liposuction Procedures for Cellulite Removal: This is a surgical method to get rid of cellulite. In the liposuction cellulite removal procedure, deep fat is removed from beneath the skin. While this may help to reduce cellulite, the method does not get rid of cellulite completely.

Laser Cellulite Treatment: Laser treatment is common for many aesthetic procedures. Laser is also used for cellulite treatment. Laser devices used for treatment of cellulite use a laser beam of light to break down or melt fat and stimulate collagen production to help the skin appear smooth. Laser treatment for cellulite has been approved by the FDA.

Massage Treatments for Cellulite: Spa treatments for cellulite include massage procedures that may produce a temporary effect in getting rid of cellulite. The effect of massage is temporary, but if the process works well to get rid of cellulite for you, you will need to perform it regularly in order to remove cellulite.

Mesotherapy: Though developed in Europe as a pain reliever, mesotheray is now used as a way of getting rid of cellulite. The procedure of treating cellulite with mesotherapy involves injecting the skin with minerals, vitamins, enzymes and amino acids. This treatment for cellulite may come with various side effects such as swelling, irregular contours and even infection.

Other Cellulite Treatment Options

  • Pneumatic Massages
  • Massages That Stimulate Lymphatic Flow
  • Heat Therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Radio Frequency Therapy
  • Magnetic Therapy
  • Radial Waves Therapy
  • Indian Chestnut
  • Endermologie
  • Electrical Stimulation
  • Methylxanthines (Caffeine and Theobromine)
  • Pentoxifylline
  • Beta-Agonists and Adrenaline
  • Alpha-Antagonists
  • Amino Acids
  • Ginkgo Biloba
  • Rutin

It is important to note that none of these treatments of cellulite have been scientifically proven to get rid of cellulite. If you eat low fat foods such as vegetables, fruits and fibers, you can avoid or prevent cellulite. The best focus to get rid of cellulite is to avert the causes of cellulite. Therefore, watch your diet, exercise regularly in order to keep healthy weight, reduce stress factors in your life, wearing loosely fitting underwear can help in treating cellulite.