Cellulite, the orange-peel look caused by fat deposits just under the skin, and stretch marks, reddish stripes or lines caused by rapid weight gain or loss, are normal and often occur as the body changes during natural growth and aging. Cellulite and stretch marks affect people of almost every age and weight. While you can minimize their appearance, you can never get rid of them for good.
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Cellulite: A Common Issue
Approximately 90 percent of women and 10 percent of men have cellulite, reports Scientific American website's "The Science of Beauty" series. It usually begins appearing around age 25 to 35 and occurs when the collagen fibers that connect the fat to your skin break down, causing the fat cells to bulge in a dimpled fashion. Cellulite most commonly appears around the knees, hips and buttocks. The stomach and back of the upper arms may also develop cellulite.
Stretch Marks at Any Age
Teenagers may develop stretch marks during growth spurts, pregnant women get them as their bellies expand, and bodybuilders experience them as muscles change in volume. You might develop the reddish-brown striations as a result of rapid weight gain. Common sites for stretch marks are the breasts, hips, thighs, buttocks, abdomen and torso. Certain medications and medical conditions, such as diabetes and Cushing's disease can disrupt collagen, the main building block of skin production and cause stretch marks.
Elimination of cellulite and stretch marks is big business. Beauty products and cosmetic procedures promise to erase them, for a price. The PubMed Health website notes, though, that no existing treatment eliminates cellulite after it develops. This includes weight loss, massage and surgery. Creams and ointments don't help you lose stretch marks, either, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. These marks do fade over time -- lightening to a silvery or white color -- and in some cases can disappear altogether when the stretching is over. Laser treatments are available for both cellulite and stretch marks, but the results are mixed.
Discourage Their Development
A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons against cellulite and stretch marks. Eat a diet heavy in fruits, vegetables and fiber and keep your body hydrated to discourage cellulite. Exercising regularly and keeping your body within a healthy weight is also important. Smoking increases the likelihood of developing cellulite. In most cases, though, stretch marks and cellulite develop as part of the natural ebb and flow of life -- you can't avoid growing in puberty or expanding during pregnancy. You can't guarantee you won't develop them, but you can minimize their appearance with self-tanning cream and flattering clothing.