Displacing "love handles" and "muffin tops" as the world's most trendy cosmetic affliction is "cankles."
In most people, the diameter of the leg decreases noticeably as the calf muscle approaches the ankle. If tapering is absent because of chubby lower legs, one is said to have fat ankles, or "cankles," a layman's blend of the words calf with ankle that indicates a leg that terminates too abruptly into the foot.
Yesterday's term for the same phenomenon was "stovepipe legs."
Cankles have two possible causes: thickened calf muscle and/or too much fat at the bottom of the leg. Present from a young age, cankles are a reflection of a genetic predisposition and not a weight issue, so they may occur both in the slim and the overweight.
There isn't normally much muscle near the ankles. Most extra volume there is from abundant fat.
While medical disorders causing chronic water retention or orthopedic injuries causing inflammation and edema can indeed look similar, "cosmetic" cankles are of absolutely no medical significance, creating only cosmetic inconvenience in women who like to wear sandals and short pants or are especially body-consicous.
Step aerobics, ballet, low-salt diets, and compression stockings achieve little because it's all but impossible to spot-reduce fat away from the lower leg.
Apart from wearing boots or flowing dresses, the only definitive treatment is liposuction to sculpt away excess fat. As with many procedures marketed to address trendy aesthetic afflictions, the operation is remarkably expensive ($4,000-$8,000+) despite its simplicity.
Results can be less than spectacular. After all, the ankles are composed of bone, tendon, muscle, and fat. Since only the fat is treated, potential improvement is clearly limited.
Cankles are said to be more common in people of Asian descent. Unfortunately, a thicker muscle may be the main culprit in many Asian cases, and so liposuction may not be very helpful.
Calf surgery or possibly BOTOX injections offer the only real means of reducing offending muscle.
Next: Asian Foot Narrowing
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