The 5 Stages of Cellulite (and a Guide to the Best Treatments)


Cellulite is a term that refers to the dimpled appearance of the skin. The protrusion of the adipose tissue found under the skin causes the dimpling. Adipose tissues are connective tissues that lie under the skin. Cellulite is benign and does not pose any health risk to the sufferer. Cellulite is more prevalent in women than men. Research has shown that more than 80% of women will develop cellulite at one time or the other in their lifetime.

The prevalence of cellulite among women is not unconnected to subcutaneous fat deposits. Women tend to have more subcutaneous fat deposits on the hips, buttocks, and thighs. All three spots are the most notable sites that cellulite forms on the skin. The stomach is also a familiar spot for cellulite.

Men have less subcutaneous fat distribution than women. Yet, this does not rule out the possibility of men having cellulite. There are instances where men develop cellulite on their skins too. Aging is another factor that predisposes people to cellulite. When the body ages, the skin begins to lose its elasticity. The body’s ability to make collagen becomes weaker. With this, cellulite begins to appear more visibly. The earliest onset of cellulite often occurs after puberty.

Weight gain, genetics, hormones, and inactivity predispose the skin to cellulite. Poor diet, accumulated toxins, and pregnancy are also predisposing factors. This article provides extensive details about the stages of cellulite. So, keep reading to learn more!

The Five Stages of Cellulite

Cellulite progresses in five distinct stages. The stages of cellulite have varying levels of manifestation on the skin. As it goes higher, cellulite becomes more prominent and harder to conceal. 

At each point of the progression, you can use the pinch test to assess cellulite severity on the skin. The pinch test is a test that involves no tool. You only need to grab a chunk of the skin between the thumb and the index finger.

To do this test for cellulite, locate a part of the body susceptible to cellulite’s appearance. You then do the pinch test on a random stretch of skin around the area. By doing this, you get a closer look at the subcutaneous fat state in that area.

Stage 0

When you do the pinch test at this stage, there are no dimpling signs. Whether you are standing or lying down, the skin remains firm and smooth. The adipose tissue is still in its normal state beneath the skin.

Stage 1

Stage 1 is the earliest appearance of cellulite. At this nascent stage of its formation, the cellulite does not appear when standing up. But, when you conduct the pinch test on the skin, it only shows wrinkles, not dimples.

These wrinkles are referred to as orange peel skin because it has a texture like the outer layer of orange. The dimpling process is just starting. Hence, you only see wrinkles. An individual who notices this onset could halt progression through lifestyle changes.  You can try dietary changes and exercise more.

Stage 2

At this stage, the wrinkles are gone because the dimpling process is now complete. You now begin to see more visible signs of dimples when you conduct the pinch test on the skin.

The degeneration of the adipose tissue is becoming more visible. The cellulite also has a cottage cheese appearance. This cheesy appearance is because the skin’s fatty tissue has become lumpy.

Stage 3

At the third stage of cellulite progression, the skin dimpling becomes noticeable. A pinch test is not needed to see the cellulite. Cellulite becomes prominent in places like the thighs, hips, belly, and buttocks.

When you stretch the affected areas’ skins at this stage, the dimples disappear. They disappear because stretching the body allows the adipose tissue to return to its normal state. Returning to its normal state creates a façade of normalcy and skin firmness. The firmness disappears once the skin returns to its normal position. Also, conducting the pinch test on the stretched stage 3 cellulite skin will reveal it.

Stage 4

Stage 4 is the final stage of cellulite progression. At this stage, the cellulite has become full-blown and can no longer stay hidden. Stretching the skin does nothing to stop the dimples from appearing on the skin. If you conduct the pinch test around the skin with stage 4 cellulite, you feel a slightly painful sensation.

Alternatively, other sources refer to the stages mentioned above as ‘grades.’ 

Treatment Options for Cellulite

Cellulite is a natural degradation of the skin and not harmful in any way. There are different ways of maintaining cellulite. The treatments aim to reduce the visibility of cellulite on the skin. These treatments are not curative but palliative. The treatment methods only help to reduce the cellulite’s visibility.  Below are proven treatment options for cellulite;

Dry Brushing

Dry brushing is a topical treatment involving a dry brush to rub the skin. Rubbing the skin helps to stimulate blood flow and remove dead cells. Research has shown that lack of blood flow to certain areas of the body leads to cellulite formation. Applying dry brushes on sites with little or no blood flow could halt cellulite formation.

This method is only effective with stage 1 cellulite. People with stage 1 cellulite can dry brush the affected area’s skin. Use a dry brush for three to five minutes every day to stimulate blood flow.

Coffee Scrub

Coffee scrub is a topical cellulite treatment. It entails scrubbing the body using a scrub with coffee as one of its main ingredients. It helps to exfoliate the skin and remove dead cells. The process helps to give the skin a firmer and undimpled outlook.

Laser Treatment

Laser treatment is a more direct approach to treating cellulite. You can use laser therapy for stage 1, 2, 3, and 4 cellulite. Laser treatment targets the rugged bands that lie beneath the skin and breaks them up. These tough bands are responsible for making cellulite visible. Successful laser treatment may stop cellulite’s appearance on the skin for up to 18 months. Only a certified dermatologist can carry out the procedure.

Vacuum-assisted Precise Tissue Release

Vacuum-assisted precise tissue release is an invasive cellulite treatment. It thrives on precision and accuracy. A dermatologist targets the rugged bands under the skin with a device that has small blades. The blades cut through the tough bands and allow the tissue to move upwards. Once the tissues move upwards, the dimpling disappears as the skin surface evens.

Also, eating balanced diets could help manage cellulite. A healthy diet will prevent excess weight that predisposes one to cellulite. Exercising regularly also helps to maintain body weight.

Dehydration is also known to cause wrinkling of the skin. Skin wrinkling is a precursor to the formation of cellulite. Drinking water helps the body stay hydrated and expel toxins that can cause cellulite.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cellulite

If you still have further questions that the article has not answered above, below are some of the frequently asked questions about stages of cellulite:

How long does it take to reduce the appearance of cellulite?

Reducing the appearance of cellulite depends on the treatment you apply. Some treatment works within 15 to 20 days. Other treatments may need a longer time frame to reduce cellulite’s appearance.

Why am I skinny with cellulite?

Being overweight indeed predisposes one to cellulite. Being skinny is also no shield against the appearance of cellulite either. Genes also influence the appearance of cellulite. Hence, some people have cellulite irrespective of their body weight.

Is cellulite a sign of bad health?

Cellulite is not a sign of bad health. Simply, it is the body showing typical signs of aging. It does not lead to any life-threatening situation. Also, it is not caused by any underlying life-threatening condition.

What foods reduce cellulite?

Foods rich in vitamin c and omega-3 fatty acids are good for eliminating cellulite. Brocolli, salmon, and bell peppers also help. Additionally, you should avoid foods that can cause obesity.

Can cellulite go away?

Cellulite does not go away forever. You can only get reprieve temporarily. Treatment measures only reduce the visibility for a while. Recently, women have begun to see cellulite as a normal part of the aging process. Different treatment options are available for those who want to remedy the situation. The treatments’ effect varies, and they do not offer a permanent solution to cellulite.

A Final Word From Wellness Nova

The stages of cellulite are its levels of the manifestation. They do not necessarily mean you are at any risk or danger. The stages are markers of cellulite’s overall severity and visibility. 

Stage 0 represents the normal state of the fatty tissue under the skin. Stage 4 is the point where cellulite is always visible. Also, it is the most advanced point of the adipose tissue’s loss of form.

There are various treatment options available to reduce cellulite visibility on the skin. They range from lifestyle changes to topical application of exfoliators. There are also invasive methods that seek to correct the anomaly from beneath the skin. With this guide, you have all you need to know about cellulite. 

Article by:

Wellness Nova Team

Our detailed review has been contributed to by multiple members of the Wellness Nova Review Team to ensure the best research and highest standard of quality. Have a good or a bad experience with one of the products? Please let us know, we love the feedback!

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