Aging and a few other factors can cause the skin to develop changes in both appearance and texture. Cellulite and stretch marks are two common issues that women deal with, especially with hormonal changes and pregnancy. Other factors such as weight gain, inactivity, and genetic predisposition also play a part and cause both issues to appear more noticeable. Cellulite vs Stretch Marks What’s the Difference

Both men and women can have cellulite and stretch marks, but they are more common in women. They are also mostly cosmetic issues and do not pose any harm, but they can make a lot of people self-conscious. Continue reading as we explore the differences between cellulite and stretch marks, and what can help improve their appearance.


Also referred to as orange-peel skin and cottage skin, cellulite causes the skin to look dimpled and lumpy. Its exact cause is not known, but it is said to develop when the fat layers underneath the skin push through collagen fibers or connective tissues. It is more common or noticeable in people with excess weight or fat, but skinny people can also have cellulite

Skin dimpling commonly occurs on the thighs, hips, and buttocks. There is some genetic link to it, which means that you have a higher chance of getting it if your mother or grandmother had it. Your lifestyle, however, also plays a part in it, with certain habits making your cellulite more noticeable.

Other factors associated with chances of having cellulite include: 

  • Aging and hormonal imbalance – Changes in hormone levels can cause you to retain fluid, gain extra weight, and develop cellulite.
  • Inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle – Sitting long hours negatively affects blood circulation, which can contribute to the development or worsening of cellulite.
  • Skinny fat syndrome – This refers to having a high body fat percentage and less muscle mass, despite having a BMI in the normal range. Women are prone to the skinny fat syndrome, as they carry more body fat than men.
  • Other lifestyle factors – Some habits can also make cellulite worse, such as:  
    • Smoking
    • Poor eating habits
    • Wearing tight clothing
    • Overexposure to the sun or sunbathing
    • Yo-yo dieting 

Cellulite is not always visible and one way to find if you have it is by pinching a body part where skin dimpling is commonly located like your thighs. Cellulite has four grades, ranging from mild to severe.

  • Grade 1 – no visible skin dimpling; microscopic changes in the skin
  • Grade 2 – visible cellulite (orange peel appearance) when the skin is pinched; not seen when standing or laying down
  • Grade 3 – noticeable skin dimpling when standing but not seen when laying down
  • Grade 4 – visible cellulite even when standing or laying down

For further reading: What are the Different Types of Cellulite?


Medically known as striae, stretch marks are a type of scars that occur due to the pulling of the skin brought on by rapid stretching. They appear as lines and streaks in different colors that can be slightly raised, indented, or even itchy. Stretch marks are also sometimes called tiger stripes, love lines, and angel scratches.

The pulling of the skin causes abrupt changes in the collagen and elastin fibers, causing them to break or rupture. This may then leave scars in the form of stretch marks as the skin heals. They are mostly caused by sudden body growth or weight gain and are a normal part of puberty for most boys and girls. 

Other things that increase your likelihood of developing stretch marks include:

  • Rapid weight gain and weight loss
  • During and after pregnancy
  • Growth spurts during puberty
  • Rapid/sudden muscle growth
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroid creams and lotions (they can decrease the amount of collagen in the skin)
  • Cushing’s disease and Marfan syndrome (and other adrenal gland disorders increase the amount of cortisone in the body, which is the hormone that thins the skin)

Stretch marks can appear almost anywhere on the body, but they usually occur in areas where fat is usually stored. These include the:

  • Stomach/belly
  • Hips 
  • Thighs
  • Upper arms
  • Breast
  • Lower back
  • Chest and shoulders, particularly if you work out with weights and build muscle mass rapidly 

For further reading: Getting Real About Stretch Marks: 7 Facts You Need to Know

Treating or improving cellulite and stretch marks

No miracle cream or treatment can eliminate both cellulite and stretch marks. If you’re looking for a way to improve or reduce its appearance, aesthetic treatments such as acoustic shockwave therapy and professional microneedling can help. The former helps break down fat cells to improve the tone and texture of the skin, while the latter induces collagen production to help tighten the skin. 

Acoustic shockwave therapy – At Cutis, we have the ZWave, which is a device that delivers radial shockwaves into the skin tissues. It can reduce the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks by softening fibrotic structures and strengthening connective tissues. ZWave can help make the skin firmer and more elastic.

The radial shockwaves from the ZWave device help break down the connective tissues that cause cellulite and destabilize the fat structure. ZWave also helps boost blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, as well as stimulate collagen formation. 

After just a few treatments, you can see improvements in skin firmness and elasticity. Noticeable results are seen after the first two to three sessions and will continue to improve as you undergo more treatments. Another good news is you can pair it with fat freezing or ZLipo to improve body contouring results. 

Microneedling – Also known as collagen induction therapy, microneedling can improve the appearance of stretch marks, cellulite, and a host of other skin problems. It works by creating thousands of miniscule needle punctures in the outer layer of the skin. This breaks uneven scar tissues and helps stimulate the growth of new ones.

The needle punctures created by the skin-needling devices create micro-trauma that activates the healing function of the skin. This helps fight ailments, which is beneficial in creating a healthier skin appearance. And as it boosts collagen production, it can address concerns associated with scarring, pigmentation, and fine lines.  

Initial improvements can be seen after the first session, but full results appear after three to six treatments. Your skin will also continue to improve over the next six to 12 months after multiple treatments.

Book a consultation today

If you want to learn more about cellulite and stretch marks reduction treatments, reach out to us. Contact Cutis Medical Laser Clinics in Singapore and schedule a consultation with our aesthetic doctor to find out which one is right for you.

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