Types, stages and causes of cellulite: Insights for ladies

Heather Campbell
 min read

Here we explain the types, stages and causes of cellulite, which mainly concerns women and is characterized by small visible dimples on the skin’s surface.

Types, stages and causes of cellulite: Insights for ladiesIt is often found on the thighs or buttocks. But did you know that there are several types of cellulite? What causes this orange-peel skin?

There are three types of cellulite: aqueous, adipose, and fibrous. Cellulite evolves in three stages, each progressively affecting the skin tissue: the start, edematous, and sclerosis phase. Cellulite can be caused by hormones, circulatory problems, stress, heredity, obesity, and unhealthy living.

In order to fight it, we first have to understand it, so scroll on to learn a more about the types, stages and causes of cellulite.

Types, stages and causes of cellulite

Types of cellulite

There are three types of cellulite, and some people may have more than one of them. In this case, we talk about mixed cellulite.

Aqueous cellulite

Also called hydro lipodystrophy or infiltration cellulite, this type of cellulite is due to a problem of water stagnation in the tissues.

Water that is not eliminated due to poor blood and lymphatic circulation will accumulate and cause edema and swelling.

Aqueous cellulite generally settles on the calves, arms, thighs and around the ankles. It looks like dimples and appears as bumps under the skin.

This type of cellulite generally affects skinny people who are prone to water retention.

Adipose cellulite

This form of cellulite mainly affects obese or overweight people as it is the result of the excessive accumulation of cells in the fatty tissue.

Fat cells are essential to the proper functioning of our body, as they serve as an energy reserve for our body.

But when the body ingests more fat than it burns, the fat cells multiply and hypertrophy.

The circulation of toxins is thus disorganized and they create inflammations when they are blocked in the cells. This is the “orange peel” appearance of the skin and deforms the tissue.

This type of cellulite is located on the buttocks, stomach, knees, thighs and hips. The skin is soft and supple, but padded. Adipose cellulite does not cause pain.

Fibrous cellulite

Also known as fibrolipodystrophy cellulitis, this form of cellulitis is related to an enlargement of the skin.

It is painful and difficult to remove, especially if it has been embedded in the skin for a long time.

It is the result of a thickening, multiplication and hardening of the collagen fibers that surround the fat cells.

Fibrous cellulite is located on the buttocks and thighs. The skin may become purplish, dimpled and hard.

Not to be confused with infectious cellulitis

These types of cellulitis should not be confused with infectious cellulitis, which is a severe inflammation.

Infectious cellulitis is a bacterial infection that results from a wound, cut, bite or burn.

It usually affects the skin of the lower legs or face and appears as an unbounded and diffuse abscess.

The skin on the affected area is hot, red, tight and painful.

Bacteria spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system and spread throughout the body. This can generate a general infection (sweating, high temperature, cold sensations).

This cellulitis is treated by oral or intravenous antibiotics depending on the severity. But if the case is very serious, a surgical cleaning can be performed.

Phases of cellulite

Cellulite can evolve in several stages, hence the term “cellulite phases”.

These different phases show a progressive decline of the tissue that is affected by this orange peel:

Phase 1: Start of the process

  • Slowing down of venous and lymphatic circulation.
  • Fluid retention in the connective tissue.
  • Treatment is related to natural remedies that improve blood circulation.

Phase 2: Edematous phase

  • Venous vessels become permeable and fluid flows out.
  • Interstitial fluid irritates the fibroblasts and they begin to synthesize more collagen and elastin fibers.
  • Formation of edema and swelling in the connective tissue
  • Formation of micronodules
  • Sensation of pain and orange peel appearance.
  • Treatment is based on the use of medicinal plants that reduce water retention and eliminate toxins.

Phase 3: Sclerosis

  • Cellular debris densifies the interstitial fluid, making it difficult to exchange nutrients between the blood vessels and the adipocytes.
  • Adipocytes agglomerate in a heterogeneous way
  • The cellular metabolism of the adipocyte is altered, retaining the liquid and pushing the epidermis outwards
  • The mass of fibers shrinks and ages, resulting in sclerosis.
  • The treatment is based on consuming or using natural products that increase metabolism and burn fat.

Causes of cellulite

Men and women are not equal when it comes to cellulite.

In fact, it is mainly women who suffer, as men have a different fatty tissue and are not subject to hormonal changes.

Related postDo guys find cellulite unattractive? Is cellulite a turnoff?

But what are the causes of cellulite formation?


Female sex hormones (progesterone and estrogen) distend the walls of the lymphatic vessels and veins.

In addition, they contribute to the storage of fat.

Cellulite is favored by hormonal changes such as pregnancy, puberty or menopause.

Circulatory problems

If the blood and lymphatic circulation is disturbed, it causes water retention which contributes to the appearance of watery cellulite.

Heat, tight clothing and lack of physical activity can aggravate the sensation of heavy legs and circulation problems.


Being stressed causes a large amount of hormones that promote water retention and the build-up of fat cells.

Unhealthy living

Many bad habits such as a sedentary lifestyle or an unbalanced diet cause and aggravate cellulite.

Insufficient physical activity leads to circulatory disorders and fat production and storage.

The consumption of coffee, alcohol, tobacco and a diet too rich in various types of sugar and fats are also to blame.


This is an important factor, as heredity determines the quality of lymphatic vessels, veins, and the location and number of fat cells.

Cellulite and obesity

The most common form of cellulite, adipose cellulite, is caused by being overweight. Obesity is caused by an imbalance between calorie consumption and expenditure.

They are characterized by an excessive accumulation of fat in the body and are harmful to health.

To determine if a person is overweight or obese, we calculate his or her BMI (Body Mass Index), which is a ratio between weight and height squared.

Being overweight or obese encourages the appearance of cellulite.

Types, stages and causes of cellulite: Conclusion

Several factors favor cellulite formation, such as poor blood circulation, lack of physical activity, poor eating habits, hormonal factors, or genetic predisposition.

It is important to identify the type of cellulite because there are adapted treatments for each form of cellulite.

Tip: For specific natural treatments against cellulite, have look at our other post What reduces cellulite naturally? Best natural treatments

To reduce cellulite as much as possible, it is also essential to adopt a better lifestyle comprised of a varied and balanced diet and regular physical exercise.

About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More