What are cankles?
If your ankles are swollen, overlarge, or seem to merge with your calves rather than being clearly defined, you may know them as ‘cankles‘. This term describes the appearance the lower leg has when there is excess fatty tissue below the knee. To help better educate the public on the causes and treatment of this common condition, we have composed this very informative guide.
What can cause swelling of the ankles?
Lymphoedema: Excess build-up of fluid in the lower legs is referred to as lymphoedema. Lymphoedema can be primary: inherent in the patient with no identifiable cause; or secondary caused by something quite specific.
Primary lymphoedema can occur in childhood, (congenital onset lymphoedema), in adolescence (lymphoedema praecox), or later in life (lymphoedema tarda).
Secondary lymphoedema can occur secondary to heart/liver/kidney failure, malnourishment (albumin deficiency), blood clots or blockages in the lymphatic system, varicose vein disease, and other medical issues. This form of fluid retention requires careful assessment and appropriate management.
What about Lipoedema
When someone suffers from lipoedema, their lower legs, thighs, buttocks, and ankles are genetically predisposed to accumulate excessive amounts of fatty tissue, making these areas sensitive and reducing their overall mobility. It tends to be passed down genetically and around 10-15% of women will be affected at some point in their lives. It is difficult to resolve lipoedema with exercise and dieting alone. There may be a slight reduction in the amount of fat, but the thighs and/or legs will always appear disproportionate to the rest of the body. Thankfully, liposuction is an effective treatment for lipoedema.
What is the difference between lipoedema and lymphoedema?
This requires a very thorough assessment by your treating physician, phlebologist, or surgeon. Lipoedema will appear as an obvious fatty deposit in the lower legs that does not affect the feet. In other words, the swelling and fatty deposits stop at the bony part of the ankle. On the other hand, true fluid retention will progress into the feet and affect both the feet and toes. Stemmer’s sign is a simple clinical test used by doctors to determine the presence of lymphoedema. The doctor will try and pinch and lift some skin from over the second or middle toe. If there is fluid retention, this will be almost impossible to do, resulting in a positive Stemmer’s sign and a provisional diagnosis of lymphoedema.
Can lipoedema be complicated by swelling?
The answer to this: absolutely! Fatty deposition in the lower legs can affect the lymphatic tracts and the ability of the lower legs to drain lymphatic fluid effectively. This will result in some level of fluid retention. Add to this a secondary condition such as varicose veins and the fluid retention can be quite significant. Poor diet, weight gain, and lack of exercise can further exacerbate fatty deposits and fluid retention.
When to seek treatment
Whether your cankles are caused by lipoedema or another condition, you deserve to get effective treatment. As a starting point, see your GP to account for any of the medical causes of ankle swelling.
As weight gain is one of the leading causes of cankles, it’s no surprise that weight loss is the first line of defense. Unfortunately, you can’t directly target your cankles with specific exercises or workouts, so you’ll need an overall diet and exercise regime that will help you shed the kilos everywhere, including your calves and ankles.
Liposuction to get rid of cankles
It’s extremely difficult to banish cankles through diet and exercise alone. Tumescent liposuction treatment is one of the few ways to get rid of cankles.
Tumescent liposuction has many benefits compared to traditional mechanical liposuction. Following the administration of tumescent anaesthetic into the fatty tissue, a cannula is used to help loosen the fat and make it easier to suction out. The use of this advanced method of ultrasound allows the procedure to be carried out in a day clinic, without the need for an overnight stay in the hospital.
With this form of liposuction, bleeding and bruising are dramatically reduced, along with treatment time and downtime. This procedure eliminates cankles, restoring slimmer, more defined ankles.
- Cankles can be caused by weight gain, water retention (including during pregnancy), lipoedema, or it could be a symptom of another medical condition.
- For cankles caused by weight gain or lipoedema liposuction is a great option to reshape your ankles, as weight loss through diet and exercise alone may not give the desired outcome.
- Make an appointment with Dr Paraskevas today to find out more about how liposuction could resolve cankles for you.