I woke up one morning with "cellulite painted all over my legs". I swear last time I checked I did not have cellulite - how can it appear so quickly?

Cellulite does not appear overnight

During the initial assessment and consultation at my practice, quite a few of my new clients tell me that their cellulite has only appeared the last 2-3 months, when it is clearly evident from the assessment that their cellulite has been there for some years, rather than for a few months.

The truth is that, as with anything else in life, if we do not pay attention to something, it just doesn't exist for us. Cellulite is one of those things that does not develop overnight - it usually takes from several months to a few years to develop under the surface, initially as pre-cellulite and later as cellulite-proper.

During that time most women do not normally pay attention to the tissue changes and the tell-tale signs of cellulite-to-be: increased softness, mild puffiness, orange peel skin when pressing the skin or when contracting the buttock muscles (gluteus maximus). And then, when cellulite starts becoming evident, most women still don't pay much attention until it becomes too advanced to be eliminated completely.

The fact is that when cellulite is new and limited, i.e. when it has been evident for less than six months, it can usually be removed completely. However, due to permanent connective tissue distortion inside the skin, cellulite cannot totally be eliminated if it is too severe or if it has been visible for more than six months.


At what time does cellulite start forming?

Cellulite creation is a slow, incipient process that happens little by little without much fanfare, starting in the teenage years. For several years, during your teens and your twenties, cellulite slowly accumulates as you enjoy the artificial, unhealthy Western lifestyle and live the so-called "good life", based on smoking, drinking, eating processed foods, using "the pill" and, for some, abusing illegal or even legal drugs, including diuretics, diet pills and stimulants.

Then suddenly, in your late twenties you realise that you do have some cellulite on your legs after all, but believe that it has "only appeared six months ago". The truth is that cellulite was slowly accumulating for years - sometimes increasing fast and sometimes receding somewhat, according to your lifestyle.

By the time cellulite is firmly established, and therefore visible, it is not just difficult to eliminate but even to reduce, and takes more than reverting to a healthy lifestyle. In that case you most probably need some external help in the form of cellulite treatments, cellulite creams and some proper, cellulite-specific advice on diet and exercise (I am actually amazed of how many of my clients think they eat healthily and exercise a lot, only for me to discover after talking to them for a few minutes that sometimes healthy eating means having bread, butter and jam for breakfast or that exercising a lot means doing pilates a couple of times a week)...

But the most important thing to remember is that prevention is better than cure for cellulite, as it is for any other aesthetic or health condition, and it is never too early (or indeed too late) to start talking care of your body. So start today - do not postpone it for tomorrow!