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Skin Res Technol. 2002 May;8(2):118-24.

Anatomy and physiology of subcutaneous adipose tissue by in vivo magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy: relationships with sex and presence of cellulite.

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L'Oréal-Advanced research laboratories, Aulnay-sous-bois, France.



Little is still known concerning subcutaneous adipose tissue and cellulite, and controversial questions are still under discussion.


Magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy were used to address two unresolved questions relating to the anatomy and physiology of subcutaneous adipose tissue.


Using high spatial resolution magnetic resonance imaging we characterized the topography of the dermo- hypodermal junction, and the three-dimensional architecture of the subcutaneous fibrous septae. Using proton spectroscopy, we measured water and lipid fractions within a fat lobule, and T1 and T2 values of the detected compounds. All these data were analysed according to sex and presence of cellulite.


MR imaging quantified deeper indentations of adipose tissue into the dermis, and evidenced for the first time a great increase in the thickness of the inner fat layer in women with cellulite. Moreover, 3D reconstruction of the fibrous septae network showed a higher percentage of septae in a direction perpendicular to the skin surface in women with cellulite; but our study also depicted the tortuous aspect of this network. MR proton spectroscopy could not show any differences related to sex or presence of cellulite concerning T1 and T2 relaxation times of the detected compounds within a fat lobule, neither the unsaturated lipid fraction, the saturated lipid fraction, nor the water fraction.


Magnetic resonance imaging showed that the 3D architecture of fibrous septae couldn't be modelled simply as perpendicular planes for women and tilted planes at 45 degrees for men. MR spectroscopy did not confirm the hypothesis of increased water content in the adipose tissue of women with cellulite as suggested by others, except if such water would be located in the connective septae.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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