Cellulite – sometimes referred to as “cottage cheese skin” – is characterised by dimpling of the skin and is not a medical but an aesthetic problem. This condition affects women almost exclusively due to the structure of female skin and its reaction to hormones. The dermis of women is more elastic and more finely structured than men’s skin; lower skin layers have more adipose cells. Collagen fibres responsible for skin tone (tear strength) are aligned parallel to each other in women while they have a mesh structure in men. This means enlarging adipose cells can push in between and press the upper layers of the skin towards the surface where they become visible. The hormone estrogen has the effect that women store their excess fat mostly on the upper legs and hips.
Genetic predisposition plays a large role in the formation of cellulite. An inherited tendency towards weak connective tissue means other factors such as excess weight, lack of weight, and smoking are more likely to result in cellulite. When examined microscopically, cellulite does not exhibit any adipose cell or vessel inflammation. However, cellulite is usually associated with lymphostasis and excess interstitial water. Even early stages of cellulite can be detected the images generated by confocal laser scanning microscopy. Although a VivaScope does not provide a view into the deepest skin layers, images of the upper skin structures provide plenty of useful information due to the effect of the adipose layers pushing upward on the epidermis.
Cellulite is characterised by distinct waves in the epidermal structure and a thick fibrosclerotic structure in the superficial dermis. If countermeasures are already initiated, monitoring with the VivaScope can depict success immediately and without pain.