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The Dreaded Cankle, Defined: What Are They and How Do I Treat Them?


The cankle is a common condition where the lower leg enlarges, affecting many individuals. Despite its prevalence, cankles remain a source of confusion for many people. Sometimes, this feature is the result of excess body fat, while other times, it is due to lifestyle or genetic reasons.

This article aims to shed light on this often misunderstood condition by discussing its causes, prevention methods, and treatment options.

What is a Cankle?

As renowned cosmetic surgeon Dr. Aaron Rollins describes in the video above, cankles are a slang term that combines the word calf and ankle, referring to fat in the lower leg. When you have cankles, you'll find it quite challenging to differentiate the definition between the calf and ankle.

This occurs due to excess fat around the ankle, making it look like a straight trunk down the lower leg instead of the gradually tapered look most people desire. In other words, the ankle appears to have a larger circumference than usual, making it appear thicker and less defined.

Cankles can affect individuals of all ages and genders for various reasons. While having fat ankles is usually just a cosmetic problem, most people who have them are unsatisfied with their appearance, often causing a lack of self-confidence. 

Skinny people can quickly develop cankles due to hormonal or genetic reasons, even if they have little excess fat in other areas. As you'll learn below, genetics is one of the significant causes of calf and ankle fat. 

The Causes of Cankles

When you have large ankles, you'll realize you might have a 'cankle definition.' That's just another way of saying that you lack a definition between the calf and ankle. Successful treatments for cankles, therefore, will aim to highlight the definition and delineate the patient's underlying lower body anatomy.

As board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Kevin Hanz explains in the video above, this condition can affect even skinnier patients with low body fat due to genetics. Simply put, some individuals are prone to storing fat in their ankles and calves, which means it will be difficult to tone them on their own. 

Although cankles tend to look similarly bulky, there are various potential causes for them, including:


Genetic predisposition is one of the reasons why cankles occur. Due to pregnancy, age, or weight gain, women will tend to store fat in their bodies' lower areas.

Additionally, while some women are born with thin frames and others are prone to wider ones, the ankles' structural differences will also vary. 

Medical Issues

Occasionally, the cause of fat ankles can be symptoms of a pressing medical issue. Therefore it's always recommended that you discuss with your physician to pinpoint the reason behind your swollen ankles.


Excess weight can exert pressure on the legs, causing them to swell and appear thicker, leading to cankle formation.


Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to water retention, causing the legs to swell and appear thicker than usual. This type of cankle formation tends to be more temporary. 

Diet Habits

While genetics can largely dictate how your calves and ankles store excess fat, they do not prevent you from altering their appearance via holistic fat-loss approaches. 

A proper diet is one of the best habits to pick up for fat-burning. Don't fall into the endless variety of fad diets you can find online.

Whether becoming a vegan or sticking to lean meats, you will only burn fat if your diet follows a calorie deficit regime.

A calorie deficit consists of eating fewer calories than your recommended value for some time. Eating 500 fewer calories than your body burns daily could equate to losing about a pound of fat per week. This approach will help burn fat throughout the body, which is the only way to reduce stubborn pockets. In other words, there is no way to directly dictate to the body to lose cankles. This would only be possible with a cosmetic procedure like cankle liposuction

Cankle Prevention Tips 

Below are a few general rules you can follow to prevent them or help lose cankle fat once it forms. 

  1. Exercise: Regular exercise can help reduce excess weight, increase muscle tone, and prevent the accumulation of fat around the ankle area.

  2. Healthy Diet: A healthy diet low in salt and high in fiber can help reduce water retention, preventing the appearance of cankles.

  3. Avoiding Prolonged Sitting or Standing: Prolonged sitting or standing can lead to poor circulation, causing the legs to swell and appear thicker.

  4. Compression Socks: Wearing compression socks or stockings can help improve circulation, reducing the appearance of cankles.

Cankle Reduction With Liposuction  

Various health clinics in Los Angeles offer liposuction as a permanent solution to remove fat from the ankles. Liposuction is generally considered safe, but there are risks associated with any surgery. It is important to discuss the potential risks and benefits of any procedure with a qualified medical professional.

Liposuction treatments for the ankles generally involve using micro-liposculpting techniques to remove excess fat and define the calf and ankle area.

These operations involve a surgeon placing two incisions around the leg's outer side and the area between the calf and ankle. A cannula is then used to suction the fat from the determined areas while the patient is under general anesthesia. 

The AirSculpt® CankCüre™ Offers Permanent Results

If you're not interested in undergoing invasive liposuction, you should opt for the minimally invasive AirSculpt® CankCüre™ in Beverly. Hills. 

Our procedures are considered the safest and most precise form of cankle removal because our patented technology does not use a scalpel, needle, stitches, or general anesthesia. 

This cankle treatment's downtime is a maximum of 48 hours, which is significantly much less than that of ankle liposuction. Still, despite its lack of invasiveness, this technology's robotic spinning mechanism enables surgeons to artistically sculpt the lower leg region to the exact look patients desire. From restoring symmetry to previously uneven legs to delivering a beautifully tapered appearance, AirSculpt® offers a permanent solution to the dreaded cankle. 

For more information on how we can help you achieve your body goals, head to AirSculpt Beverly Hills or any of our more than 25 body contouring offices worldwide for your first consultation. 


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