Treating Cankles

Cankle is the word used to describe the lack of definition due to swelling or obesity between the calf and the ankle so they become blended as one. Lipodystrophy is a condition of abnormal fat distribution that makes little to no clarity between the lower calf/ankle area and can become an irritating aesthetic concern for some.

Unfortunately, suffering with Cankles isn’t always related to obesity or a bad diet, it can also be a genetic disorder and no matter how much weight you lose, the issue will remain the same. If you suffer with calf and ankle lipodystrophy, you will have probably seen it present from early adolescence. Fortunately the condition will usually only be present in the calf/ankle area.

Assessment for treatment

Prior to all treatments, patients must undergo a clinical assessment to ensure the candidate is suitable for any procedure, and of course to make sure the correct diagnosis is made from the medical history. Other conditions such as; Lymphoedema, Systemic disease, Venous disease, Cellulitis, Myxoedema and Cyclical/idiopathic oedema also show symptoms of swelling on the lower half. Treating patients with any of these conditions would either have no effect at all, or they could in fact make the condition worse.

It is also important to differentiate and eliminate Lipoedema during any examinations carried out. This long term and uncommon chronic condition is also where abnormal fat cells build up in the legs, thighs and buttocks. The legs will become enlarged from the ankles all the way up to the hips. Patients who are surgically treated for Lipoedema by Liposuction treatment, usually have to continue ongoing non-surgical procedures to maintain the results.

Treatment of the area

Patients suitable for treatment to eliminate Cankles, will usually have subcutaneous tissue (deep fat) between the lower calf and ankle area. The amount of fat and the circumferential difference between each person depends on both genetics and/or weight. Some patients will not only have concerns about the lower leg, but sometimes the issue can correspond with fat around the Knee or Thigh. 

The more modern and preferred technology for treating Cankles is SmartLipo, a much less invasive treatment than traditional Liposuction. SmartLipo is when a small incision is made in the skin and local anaesthetic is injected into the area to be treated. The laser probe is then inserted into the incision, and a light energy laser is used to fracture the fat in the intended areas. The lasers movement through the skin is monitored by the light on the laser device itself. The technology allows for an even amount of energy applied to the treated area(s), this is due to the sensors coordinating with the laser which will make the result as even as possible. The fractured fat is then sucked out of the body using a microcannula.

If the patients wish to have further reshaping to emphasise the contours of the lower leg, it is also possible to have fat injections in the calf. Alternative contouring procedures can include silicone implants, structural fat grafting and Macrolane to name a few. After the procedure, patients can return to normal activities reasonably fast and post op pain is usually very low. Patients wear a compression garment on the treated areas for a minimum of one week, but are encouraged to wear them for as long as possible.

Dr Ayham Al-Ayoubi: All procedures have risks and complications but they should be kept to a minimum providing all pre and post treatment is followed accordingly and patients shall then have the results they desire.


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