How long does it take to get rid of cellulite?

Woman with an apple butt
This woman has very low body fat and well-developed, muscular buttocks.

Do you have cellulite? Chances are you do since 80-90% of women have this form of lumpy skin, AKA orange-peel skin or cottage-cheese skin due to the texture. 

Few men have cellulite, primarily because their body fat content and distribution are different from women. Females naturally have more body fat and tend to store the fat in their hips and legs, while most men store it in their bellies. Women also have weaker connective tissue, resulting in the fat right under their skin to appear more dimpled.  Last, estrogen influences the development of cellulite and is far more prevalent in women than in men.  

Can you get rid of cellulite and how long does it take? Yes, you can, but it depends on the severity of your orange-peel skin. According to Medical News Today, there are three severity grades of cellulite. (No cellulite is considered grade 0):

Grade One: faint dimpling only when you grab/squeeze a chunk of the skin of your thigh (or butt or tricep area). 

woman with cellulite on the back of her thigh
This woman has grade 1 level cellulite.

Grade Two: faint dimpling is visible when you stand up. Some sagging of the skin in the affected areas.

Grade Three: lots of dimpling when you lie down and the skin sags a lot while standing. It’s hard to completely get rid of cellulite at this stage.

Another thing to take into consideration is your body type. Women with pear-shaped bodies like Jennifer Lopez will probably always have some cellulite. (This is why Jennifer always shows off her abs in pics. That’s her strength.) Most of their body fat is on the butt and thighs. Women with apple-shaped bodies like Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Hudson have to gain lots of weight before they show  any cellulite. Most of their body fat is in the stomach, chest, and shoulder area. They tend to have great, smooth legs.

Finally, the older you are, the harder it is to get rid of cellulite. That’s because we lose muscle and gain more body fat as we age. The more body fat covering your muscles, the more cellulite you’ll have. Also, your skin can thin out and connective tissue can weaken/lose elasticity as you age, making the fat underneath more visible. 


LOSE BODY FAT.  The leaner you are, the less cellulite you’ll have. Having low body fat is by far the most important factor. Caffeine creams and expensive treatments such as laser and massage tools to increase circulation won’t help much if you have lots of fat on top of your muscles. Not even eating healthy and not smoking will have as much of an impact as lowering your body fat significantly. Of course, eating healthy usually results in lowering your body fat. The sad truth is, if you’re under 30, you can lower your body fat levels by simply smoking and eating less. (Not that I recommend it.) The reason is because of the natural muscle mass of twenty-somethings.

lean model with low body fat percentage
This model has a body fat level of about 15%. (Michele Merkin by Ian Scott via Wikimedia.)

INCREASE MUSCLE MASS. Skinny fat people tend to have lots of cellulite. Skinny fat people look healthy, but, in reality, they have lots of body fat relative to their size. In other words, they could be 32 % body fat, but still look slender, at least with clothes on. Fight this by strength-training the whole body two to three times a week. The muscle works as padding under your skin and connective tissue. You don’t want fat to be that padding:) My recent article details how you can lose body fat and gain muscle at once. Do lots of squats, lunges, leg presses, dead lifts, hamstring curls and leg extensions to build muscle in your butt and thighs. Don’t be afraid to go heavy. Seriously, if you lift too light, you won’t gain enough muscle.

INCREASE CIRCULATION. Your hormones changing as you get closer to menopause–your estrogen levels dropping in particular–results in less blood flow to your connective tissue. Lower blood circulation means less collagen production. You can fight this by exercising regularly. Walking, biking, running, anything that gets your heart rate up. The more active you are, the better. Avoid sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time. While toxins do not cause cellulite, smoking is bad for your circulation. In other words, quit smoking. Also, get used to wearing loose underwear or thongs. Tight bikini briefs hinders blood flow, resulting in the formation of cellulite.

EAT A BALANCED DIET. When you get older and need to replenish your muscle mass by strength-training, you must also ensure you get enough protein and less processed foods in general. However, that doesn’t mean all you should eat is protein. Eat carbs and protein with every major meal. If you can, do the same with your snacks. Generally, eat 50 % carbs, 50 % protein and some fat. Read my article about body types to find out what exact proportions of carbs, protein and fats are right for you. As always, stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. Drinking a liter before noon is a good goal.

How long it takes before you see results depends on all these factors.

So, if you have an hourglass figure (average body fat in lower body) with grade 1 cellulite and you’re in your thirties, you should see results after five-six weeks. That’s assuming you’re following the above advice to a T.

If you’re a pear-shape with grade 2 cellulite and you’re in your forties following my advice, it’ll likely take twice that time. Or more. Getting rid of cellulite is not easy. I myself, at my heaviest, which is ten pounds heavier than what I am today, was somewhere between a 1 and 2. I still have about one and a half to two pounds of body fat to lose before it’s 0. That might sound like nothing and something you can lose in a couple of days, but that’s not true. Yes, you can lose a couple of pounds of water in two days, but that won’t make your body fat any lower. Hence, your cellulite will still be there. Plus, the area which is the hardest to lose for most women is that area where your butt connects with your thigh. It’s no different for me. So forget about crash dieting for a week, hoping your cellulite will go away. It won’t. Instead, slow and steady is the way to go, like the typical recommended 1-2 pounds/week. That weight loss will be mostly fat, not water and/or muscle.

This woman is doing a popular treatment called Cool Sculpting.

You may have noticed that I didn’t include any medical procedures. That’s because not only are they time-consuming and expensive, but results do not last more than a few months, if you even get results. Sometimes you don’t. And liposuction can make your cellulite worse! Yikes! The exception is Cellfina, an FDA, clinically-proven-to-reduce cellulite, minimally invasive treatment that targets specific areas of cellulite. It claims the results after one treatment last for two years. It’s the one medical treatment I’d personally look into, though I vastly prefer the natural method of lowering my body fat and increasing muscle mass. Of course, I’m lucky enough to have a more athletic body type that doesn’t get much cellulite and getting lean for me is relatively easy. Keep in mind that Cellfina costs around $4,000, so it’s also more expensive than other, less effective treatments.

Based on my decades of measuring body fat levels on women using calipers, it seems the magic body fat percentage on thighs is roughly 17 %. If you see a woman with an hourglass figure and no cellulite, I can almost guarantee you her thighs have no more than 17% body fat and that she, if not model slender, is also the proud owner of an athletic, muscular body. Professional athletes have even lower body fat. Have you ever seen a sprinter or gymnast with cellulite? I didn’t think so. Not even the older ones like Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, 54, have any cellulite.  This is because their body fat levels is 12-13% (even on their thighs). Of course, getting your body fat levels that low is extremely hard and not healthy. And not necessary either. Shoot for getting under 17 % body fat for the entire body.

Did I miss any great tips to reduce cellulite? Let me know below!

9 responses to “How long does it take to get rid of cellulite?

  1. I got my body fat down to 9.6% in prep for a figure competition and I still had cellulite. So this Magic 17% number isn’t true for everyone.


    • I’m sorry to be rude, but there is no chance you’re 15 % body fat and have cellulite. Most likely what happened is that the person who did your body fat doesn’t know what they’re doing. And if it was a machine, I can tell you from experience that those can be several percentage points off. Oh, I see I forgot to reply to the person above who claimed she was 9.6 % body fat. I just don’t believe she was that low. The lowest I’ve ever seen a woman’s body fat is 12 %. And trust me, that woman was extremely lean.


      • Honestly you just don’t know what your talking about again gymnast and sprinter here still definitely have cellulite and I have quite a bit of just muscle and less fat


      • Yes, sweetheart, I do know what I’m talking about. Just because you’re an athlete doesn’t necessarily preclude you from having cellulite. Being an athlete doesn’t automatically promise low body fat. My point was that someone who is an elite-level athlete is extremely unlikely to have cellulite because their body fat is so low. Your body fat can’t be in the 12-13 % range, which is typical for elite-level athletes, including sprinters and gymnasts. Did you check your body fat percentage? What is it?


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