Expert Doctor

Ankle/Calf Liposuction

An ankle/calf liposuction is a shaping and contouring procedure of the ankle and calf region. It is performed by removing the excessive surrounding fat underneath the skin via liposuction.



The ideal candidates for an ankle/calf liposuction are patients who are generally healthy, more or less at their ideal weight, have no underlying diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes, and are also a non-smoker. Smoking and diabetes can compromise blood supply leading to poor and slow healing. Patients should also have a kind of thickness on the calf or ankle, referred to as a “cankle.” Younger individuals are the preferred patients because their skin can retract better than older patients after the liposuction. There are no pre-operation requirements. However, if the patient is a bit overweight then he or she will be asked to lose some weight first.

It is also important that the patient does not have venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency is characterized as a general swelling of the leg or feet due to the inadequate return of blood in the venous system. This happens when the vein in the lower leg is not functioning normally. If liposuction is done on the calf of a patient with venous insufficiency, it can exacerbate the condition and make it worse.



The skin around the ankle and calf is very taut so there is no need to remove any skin to improve the shape. If skin is removed it will be under a lot of tension and as a result it will not heal well, as well as the patient receiving a very visible scar. The skin also has the ability to redrape or shrink following fat removal, so it is better to stick to liposuction. There are instances where the skin does not tighten up but it occurs very rarely. This happens in patients who have had massive weight loss. Lifting procedures are recommended if there is too much sagging skin.



There is a limit to how much volume can be removed. The size and shape of a calf is made up of three major components which are fat, bone, and muscle. The bone cannot be reduced and the muscles have to be left alone. The only thing that creates the space or bulk is fat and that is what the treatment targets. The amount of fat between the skin and muscle is reduced to narrow that space. This results in a more ideal shape of the calf and ankle.



The ideal candidates for ankle/calf liposuction are generally healthy patients so there should not be any serious complications as long as the procedure is done properly. However, if the patient has venous insufficiency, is a smoker, or has systemic diseases that cause a compromised blood supply, he or she is more likely to suffer from various complications. There will be more severe swelling and bruising which will result in a longer recovery period.



The recovery period for an ankle/calf liposuction is about four to six weeks. This is due to the fact that the procedure works on the lower part of the body and gravity plays a role. If a person stands up all day, their feet get a little bit swollen. By having liposuction on that area, the condition will be made even worse because the fluid tends to pool due to the gravity. Unless the feet of the patient are elevated at all times, there will be persistent swelling. The recovery time tends to be longer compared to when liposuction is done on other parts of the body.



Ankle/calf liposuction can produce changes right away. The results are permanent if the patient’s weight stays the same and there is no significant weight fluctuation. If the operation is done correctly and the patient is happy with the improvements, repeat treatments are usually not needed. A little bit of weight gain will not cause the treated areas to go back to their original state. Patients can gather a little bit of bulk but never at the same level as before the surgery.



Minor revisions may be done only if needed. An area that is treated before must not be treated too many times because each time there is some scarring and the lymphatic drainage system may not heal completely. It is extremely important to find a surgeon that can get everything done properly in one procedure. Consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon before undergoing an ankle/calf liposuction procedure.


Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team- AA

Based on an exclusive interview with Stewart Wang, MD in Pasadena, CA