What Causes Thick Ankles?

Thick ankles, also known as "cankles," tend to bother women because of fashions such as gladiator-style sandals, leggings, shorts and skirts ending above the knee. Several websites, workout manuals and personal trainers tout cures for thick ankles and, depending on the cause, these treatments may work. But if the cause is from fat around your ankles, many times you must resort to liposuction to lessen the circumference.

Genetic Causes

Some people develop cankles because of their genetic makeup. Instead of storing fat around their bellies or on their hips, they store fat on their lower legs. "When the fat cells in your ankle become engorged, you put on extra tissue around the ankle, which causes cankles, or fat ankles!" explains physician and talk show host Dr. Oz on his website. While fat ankles may be unsightly, they don't constitute a health problem the way fat bellies do. Because you cannot spot-reduce fat deposits on your body, exercise and diet may not cure your cankles. Some people must lose a significant amount of weight before they lose weight in a desired area, ending up too skinny in other areas. Try to instead build up your calves so your ankles appear skinnier in comparison. If you can afford it, see a plastic surgeon to have your ankles trimmed via liposuction. According to the Wall Street Journal, liposuction of the ankles costs between $4,000 and $6,000.


Can Uncomfortable Shoes Cause Swelling?

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Severely overweight individuals often have cankles and should avoid using liposuction to reduce circumference around their ankles. Their focus should be on eating a healthy diet low in calories and sticking to an exercise program to reduce overall weight. Chances are the thick ankles will disappear at the same rate as other body parts shrink.


Edemas sometimes cause thickness around the ankles. "[An edema is] an accumulation of fluids sometimes caused by kidney disease, heart failure, pregnancy or other issues," according to WebMD. Pregnancy edemas almost always disappear after delivery, but to minimize them stay off your feet, don't cross your legs, wear loose-fitting clothes and exercise daily. In cases of extreme swelling, contact your doctor. While a rarer cause for cankles, edemas are a more serious health concern, especially if the edema is caused by kidney disease or heart failure. Test yourself for Pitting Edema, a sign of kidney or heart problems: "If you push down on the fat in your ankles, and the pits stay there for a few seconds, like when you push down on a memory foam mattress," you may have a problem, according to Dr. Oz. Achilles tendon injury and tendinitis around the ankles may also cause chronic swelling, resulting in cankles.