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Why do even super-fit women have cellulite?


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Photo: Stocksy/Memanjia Glumac

Celeb trainer Lacey Stone (you know, the one who helped Khloe Kardashian build her “revenge body“) has logged countless leg days, does seven hours of high-intensity cardio a week, and claims to be in the best shape of her life. Also? She says she still has cellulite.

“I have it where my upper thigh meets my butt,” she explains, unapologetically. And she’s not alone—from rock star-turned-rock-climbing star Alexis Krauss to bodybuilder Dyan Tsiumis, super-fit women are opening up about the fact that they’re just as likely to develop cellulite as anyone else. “A lot of women have cellulite on the backs of their legs, and I think that’s kind of for a reason,” says Tsiumis.

 

“In my experience, thin women have it just as much as overweight women.” – Cybele Fishman, MD

According to dermatologist Cybele Fishman, MD, the cause could be genetic. “I think [it] plays one of the strongest roles—and in my experience, thin women have it just as much as overweight women,” she says. Science has yet to figure out why cellulite—which affects more than 90 percent of women—forms on some people and not on others. “Even after so many years of torturing women [with anti-cellulite messaging], we still don’t know a lot,” she adds.

While doctors don’t know the why, they do know the how: There are cords of fibrous netting that connect skin to muscle, and when fat pushes through them, skin dimples appear. It’s possible to minimize the visibility of cellulite through strength training, limiting extreme weight fluctuations, and avoiding excessive sun exposure, but there’s no cure for the condition. “I had more,” says Stone of her dappled legs. “I’ve lessened the appearance of it through exercise—you can’t get rid of it though! People try to sell you on that, but…you can’t laser it out. And you can’t liposuction it out.”

The super-trainer says she’s noticed the biggest difference since switching to a clean diet. “Basically what I’ve done is just been as healthy as I can and my legs have just changed over time,” she says. Still, she cautions clients to keep realistic expectations. “I explain to them from the get-go that if you have cellulite, it’s not going to completely go away…. There’s no shortcut.”

Originally published July 6, 2017; updated August 13, 2018.

Two other super-common skin conditions that could use some myth busting: stretch marks and adult acne

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