Cankles: The New Muffin-Top?

Less-than-slender ankles are the latest body part to obsess over.

July 24, 2009, 12:40 AM

July 24, 2009 -- While you were busy worrying about "muffin-topping" over the waistband of your jeans or the "cottage cheese" on your thighs, you should have been fretting over the shapeliness of your ankles.

"Cankles," or less-than-svelte ankles, are the thunder thighs of the new millennium.

Summer staples like shin-length capri pants and ankle-accenting gladiator sandals have made the area where the tiba and fibula meet the latest place to obsess over.

With ankle-mania in mind, the fitness chain Gold's Gym has humorously declared July Cankle Awareness Month. While the fitness chain is poking fun at the latest body obsession, it still offers some trimming exercise tips, including calf raises and dumbbell exercises.

For a "cankle" reducing diet, Gold's recommends skipping the salt, and maintaining a healthy diet of leafy greens and plenty of whole grains.

Many women are simply predisposed to excess leg and ankle fat and no amount of step aerobics or ballet can make a real dent. For those who simply must have a slender ankle, there's always the surgeon's knife.

Christina Reggie is one of those women, and she turned to surgery six weeks ago after years of emotional distress caused by her cankles.

She didn't like the way they looked. "I thought I was deformed," said Reggie. "No matter how much I'd try to get smaller, there'd still be that fat on the outside."

Reggie's plastic surgeon and a professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Dr. Michelle Copeland, said a relatively new liposuction technology allows her to shape and contour lower legs.

"Using a laser light, we can actually help sculpture and remove those fat deposits," said Copeland.

According to a recent study from the division of plastic surgery at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, lower extremity liposuction is more popular than ever due to reduced complications and improved technology.

But cankle surgery is no walk in the park. It's a major surgical procedure that requires anesthetic, recovery time, and can cost between $4,000 and $8,000.

Even so, Reggie says she's thrilled with the results of her surgery.

"This is awesome! This is the first time I've ever seen the shape in my lower legs," she said.

For those who aren't willing to endure the pain and spend the cash for surgery, the simplest way to ankle cankles is to draw the eye away.

Style expert and author Sam Saboura tells Gold's Gym cankle-frighteners to avoid sandals and shoes with ankle straps, tight "skinny" jeans that bunch at the bottoms and bright socks. Stick to wedges, boot cut jeans and flowy fabrics around the lower leg for effective cankle camouflage.