Cellulite in pregnancy: its causes and prevention

During a pregnancy it is possible that cellulite may appear (also) differently visible from one woman to another.
Let’s see what the causes are and how it can be prevented.

Cellulite in pregnancy

Simultaneously with the physiological changes that occur in their body, during their pregnancy women can also detect the existence of more or less marked changes in their external appearance. For example,

  • a certain weight gain which, with the exception of special cases, resolves spontaneously after childbirth;
  • stretch marks due to reduced skin elasticity resulting from  hormonal changes;

It is also possible that cellulite may appear, but it may not appear at all.

These are generally completely normal phenomena that do not compromise the future mother’s quality of life in most cases.

The causes why cellulite sometimes appears during pregnancy can be of different nature.

In any case, cellulite – which, as is known, is a rather difficult condition to remove – could also prove to be particularly annoying and create more than one discomfort for the woman.

If it cannot be eliminated, it is however possible to at least try to prevent it, or try to minimize its manifestations should it occur.

What is it, where and how does it occur

Cellulite (scientific name: fibro-edematous panniculopathy) is an unpleasant blemish on the skin (subcutaneous tissue) which occurs especially on the thighs, belly, arms, legs and buttocks.

It consists of an abnormal increase in the subcutaneous fat layer, accompanied by an inflammatory state and microcirculation problems.

This condition – very frequent in women, but which can also affect men – leads to the formation in some parts of the body of the typical “orange peel” skin characterized by small subcutaneous nodules that are hard to the touch and visible even from the outside.

Cellulite also often appears in adolescence, a period which is characterized precisely (also) by hormonal changes.

It can manifest itself as a slight sensation of dry and wrinkled skin to the touch, but also with the presence of real fat nodules, sometimes even painful.

Depending on the form in which it manifests itself, it may be:

  • oedematous cellulite,  consisting of fluid retention especially in the ankles, legs, thighs and arms;
  • fibrous cellulite,  consisting of subcutaneous adipose nodules which cause the formation of wrinkles and an orange peel skin;
  • a sclerotic cellulite,  consisting of a hardening of the tissues with an evident presence of large, slightly painful nodules.

The form in which cellulite presents is correlated,

  • to the physiological characteristics of the woman,
  • to your hormonal situation,
  • to personal predisposition,
  • to other physical elements which may be different from person to person.

Because it occurs in pregnancy

There are several reasons why cellulite develops during pregnancy. In addition to a natural predisposition and some circulatory or inflammatory problems of various kinds, the causes are, as we have said, usually of a genetic, hormonal or metabolic nature.

The most frequent reasons are the imbalances and hormonal changes characteristic of the period of gestation, especially in cases,

  • of an unbalanced and incorrect diet,
  • and poor physical activity, which results in a reduced oxygen supply to the tissues and a defective local microcirculation.

Some problems of a circulatory nature, and the tendency to retain liquids, can also contribute to the formation of cellulite, problems that are sometimes encouraged by an already compromised subcutaneous situation following inflammation and problems of dermatological origin.

When, especially older women and those who have already detected their predisposition to water retention and the formation of cellulite, face a pregnancy, they should contact their trusted doctor or gynecologist and ask them for advice on how to prepare a adequate food program and for a possible dermatological evaluation.

Moreover, during pregnancy it is more than normal to notice – in addition to a natural correlation between the formation of fat and the amount of estrogen present in the blood – the onset or worsening of cellulite also in relation to weight gain, and a consequent impaired venous circulation.

Furthermore, a sedentary life without regular physical activity also undoubtedly contributes to the development of subcutaneous fat deposits.

How to prevent or fight it

Even before talking  about specific remedies against cellulite during pregnancy , it should first be remembered that to prevent the formation of cellulite, it is necessary,

  • adopt a balanced and healthy lifestyle,
  • perform light physical activity,
  • walk and hydrate the tissues as much as possible with the necessary supply of water.

Then, it is appropriate

  • avoid clothing that is too tight, especially underwear, stockings and trousers,
  • instead favoring graduated compression stockings that stimulate circulation.
  • Even high heels should be avoided for the benefit of sporty and comfortable shoes.

They can help

  • moisturizing creams and lymphatic drainage massages, being careful, however, to use products suitable for pregnancy: therefore it is advisable to consult an expert dermatologist or a professional beauty centre, possibly also asking your trusted doctor or gynecologist for advice.
  • Also in this regard, do-it-yourself remedies and word of mouth should be avoided, and this as even products of natural origin could contain substances potentially harmful to the fetus.

How to manage it after childbirth

If during pregnancy a rather visible cellulite had formed, to identify the best “technique” to get rid of this problem, or at least to reduce it after childbirth, you can ask for advice directly from your gynecologist or your doctor.

  • Usually, aesthetic medicine treatments are used, such as photostimulation which increases muscle tone,
  • or laserlipolysis is used which causes the crushing of fat deposits which will then be naturally eliminated from the body.

In any case, however, with the exception of truly desperate cases, it is preferable to avoid resorting to this type of intervention, and instead try to prevent the formation of cellulite during pregnancy as much as possible by following a “balanced formula” made up of correct nutrition, physical activity and hydration.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform, Maternicity.com.

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