Painful cellulite

Why does cellulite hurt?

At the clinic we hear a lot of clients asking “why does my cellulite hurt when massaged“ or even “why does my fat hurt to touch”.

Although for most women cellulite is not painful, in the more severe cases, most commonly in women about the age of 50, both cellulite and fat can hurt to the touch. Even in younger women and in less severe cases, cellulite can be sensitive when touched or massaged.

Cellulite, pain and inflammation

It is in the nature of cellulite to quite often be painful

Before we explain why advanced cellulite and fat hurts, let’s look at the definition of cellulite. This will help us understand the multiple causes of painful cellulite and fat tissue.

Cellulite is defined as an aesthetic skin condition that comprises:

  • excessive fat accumulation in the lower layer of the skin (hypodermis)

  • water retention

  • free radical damage

  • inflammation

  • skin looseness

  • fibrosis / connective tissue deformity

  • collagen glycation


inflammation: the cause of cellulite pain

In most cases, pain is caused, or accompanied by, inflammation, and cellulite/fat pain could not be different. Inflammation on the legs, bum and other areas affected by cellulite or excess fat accumulation, is in turn is caused - or made worse - by the following aspects:

  • Adipose (fat) tissue inflammation: fat tissue itself is well known to be a pro-inflammatory tissue, i.e. fat cells secrete inflammatory hormones

  • Water retention: poor circulation / water retention is always accompanied by increased inflammation, as waste products and "toxins" do not get removed from tissues, thereby causing localised irritation / inflammation and therefore pain

  • Oxidative damage and glycation tend to lead to inflammation and therefore pain

  • Fibrosis: the connective tissue fibres that attach to the cellulite globules, are overstretched and deformed, eventually becoming inflamed and painful

All these inflammatory changes explain the painful, lumpy cellulite.

Cellulite: not that benign, after all...

All in all, cellulite is not just the benign and visually annoying aesthetic condition that we think it is.

Although cellulite does not kill, it does indicate that inflammation and damage is occurring under the skin, which ideally should be stopped, both for aesthetic and health reasons.

If left unchecked, it will lead to more water retention, more underlying skin tissue damage, more inflammation, more pain and more skin looseness, in addition to the unsightly bumps.

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What you can do about it

This entire website is dedicated to cellulite reduction and skin tightening, but a good starting point on how to beat cellulite inflammation and pain on your legs is our 60+ tip guide on how to reduce cellulite:

You may also wish to check our highly concentrated cellulite creams:

You can also check our intensive cellulite treatments in London: