Does genetics play a factor in the appearance of cellulite?

No matter what you call it, cellulite – also known as adiposis edematosa or dermopanniculosis deformans in the medical field and as orange peel syndrome or cottage cheese skin in laymen’s terms – is unsightly, affecting up to 90% of women and 10% of men at some point in their lives. While cellulite is not contagious or harmful to a person’s health, most consider it unflattering, especially as it often develops on the abdomen, thighs, buttocks and upper arms.

While research proves that genetics do play a role in the development of cellulite, both in how likely a woman’s body is to store fat and how much the bands of connective tissue pull down on the fat, there are many other factors responsible for the severity of the condition.


After decades of research, clinical experts agree that several biological, lifestyle and environmental factors combine to form cellulite:


Hormones such as estrogen, noradrenaline, insulin, prolactin and thyroid hormones play a part in the cellulite production process, which is why far more women develop cellulite at some point in their lives.


Certain genes passed down through generations may also predispose an individual to cellulite production. While factors such as gender, race, metabolism, circulatory efficiency and the distribution of fat are widely believed to play a role in the development of cellulite, the genetic background of this condition remains unclear.

However, a 2010 study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology claims that two specific polymorphisms (genetic variations) were present in test subjects who had cellulite. Since then, research has progressed to the point that a genetic test is available that identifies a gene variant responsible for moderate to severe cellulite development. The test, which is prohibitively expensive, accomplishes what most women already know … if their mothers and grandmothers had cellulite, good chances are they will too.


A diet heavy in fat, sugar, carbohydrates and salt and too little fresh fruits, vegetables and natural fiber contributes greatly to the severity of cellulite.


Those who smoke, lead a sedentary lifestyle or must sit or stand in one position for long periods may be more predisposed to cellulite development.


Tight clothing, especially garments with tight elastic across or around the buttocks, thighs or upper arms, limits healthy blood flow, which may contribute to the severity of cellulite.

While genetics plays an important role in whether or not cellulite will make an appearance, several of the contributing factors – and the right program of treatment – will help keep it under control.

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