We often think of cellulite as a women thing, especially at certain times in life that cause hormonal changes. But are men spared from cellulite and orange peel skin?
Cellulite, a women’s story
Fat cellulite is an accumulation of fat in the deep layers of the skin (hypodermis). Fat cells, or adipocytes, get bigger, and adipose tissue changes. Small balls form to store fat. These fat reserves are essential in the event of famine. Almost all women are affected (about 9 out of 10 women), their bodies being genetically engineered to cope with the increased needs of pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Fatty cellulitis is to be distinguished from infectious cellulitis which is caused by bacteria and whose appearance has nothing to do with fatty cellulitis.
There are 3 types of cellulite.
- Watery cellulite, caused by disturbances in the blood circulation, causing water retention.
- Fat cellulite, caused by too much fat in the body.
- Fibrous cellulitis which is an old cellulite, very encrusted, that we feel on palpation and which is due to the modification of the collagen fibers surrounding the adipocytes.
Of course, different types of cellulite can occur in the same person and one type of cellulite can evolve into another.
Men and cellulite
What about men? Can they also have cellulite? Well yes ! But – because there is a but – cellulite in men is on the one hand much less common than in women (only 2% of men are affected), and above all, it is not quite the same.
Adipose tissue is more important in women: fat makes up 20 to 25% of their body mass, compared to 15 to 20% in men. And while in women, the location of fat is located just under the skin at the level of the stomach, hips, buttocks and thighs (gynoid morphology), in men, the fat is more “hidden” because it is closer to the organs – which is a risk factor for cardiovascular accident0 – and rather localized in the upper body (arms, neck, abdomen).
In addition, men’s skin is thicker, and has more hair. Practical for hiding cellulite!
Last but not least, the structure of the connective tissue that surrounds the fat cells (much like the fibers that separate the quarters of a citrus fruit) is different depending on the sex. In men, it forms a sort of grid, a bit like a honeycomb. While in women, the partitions that surround the adipocytes are perpendicular to the skin. The result: when the adipocytes grow, they “point” directly under the skin, since they cannot grow in width as they do in men. This explains the bumpy “orange peel” or padded appearance characteristic of the female epidermis.
In summary, cellulite in men, yes, but infrequent and above all much less visible because more internal. Which, again, isn’t necessarily good news from a cardiovascular perspective.
The causes of cellulite in men
A hormonal imbalance can be responsible for the appearance of cellulite in men, especially in the event of a drop in testosterone (andropause) which occurs between the ages of 40 and 55. In addition, a drop in testosterone has the effect of reducing the thickness of the skin. High stress can also have an influence, as the stress hormone cortisol helps build up fat, just like insulin.
Unsurprisingly, a poor lifestyle with little physical activity, tobacco, alcohol and a poor diet also plays a role in the development of so-called fat cellulitis.
A journalism student at the University of Florida, Serena writes mostly about health and health-related subjects. On her time off, she enjoys binge-watching her favorite shows on Netflix or going on a weekend get-away.