Considering Calf Reduction Surgery? Here’s What You Should Know


“Cankles” is arguably one of the worst words to make its way into the English language. The unfortunate term is slang for when calves meet the ankles, and there’s no definition to separate the two.

As if people weren’t self-conscious enough about their bodies (there were 18.1 million cosmetic procedures performed in 2019 alone), the term caused many to pay more attention to the size of their calves.

Worried about your calves being too large or bulky? You’re not alone. Calf reduction surgery is on the rise, and it helps to slim down and shape their appearance.

If you’re contemplating surgery to improve the look of your calves (or didn’t know surgery was an option), here’s what you need to know:

Why Reduce the Size of Your Calves?

As with any cosmetic surgery, the reasons for it depend on your personal goals. Do you think your calves are too bulky? Do you want to improve their shape? Do they seem disproportionate to the rest of your body?

No matter the reason, there are benefits to reducing calf size:

  • Legs appear more defined and slimmed down
  • Bulkiness is diminished
  • Bowed legs are corrected
  • Skin is tightened, and fat is reduced

So, how do you slim down your calves? Here is a brief guide:

Types of Calf Reduction Surgery

If you’re serious about reducing the size of your calves, there are a few different surgical options. Here is a procedure overview for each:

Partial Muscle Removal

Also called “muscle resection,” this method involves removing part of the gastrocnemius muscle, one of the largest in the calves (and often the culprit for the bulky look). Partial removal of bulky calf muscles helps improve contour and shape, resulting in a slimmer appearance. It can also help straighten and correct bowed legs.

Partial muscle removal is the most aggressive and permanent form of calf reduction, so it’s important to feel confident in your decision to move forward. Like with any major surgery, there is extensive recovery time and the potential for complications. Some of the risks involved include scarring, asymmetrical calves, blood clots, or loss of athletic ability.

Selective Neurectomy

A more gradual form of calf reduction comes in the form of selective neurectomy. Put simply, the process involves severing the nerves that stimulate the gastrocnemius muscle. This leads to atrophy of the muscle, meaning it shrinks due to lack of stimulation.

This minimally invasive procedure requires an incision behind the knee, where the doctor cuts the nerves. The recovery time is quicker than partial muscle removal, but the reduction is less. It is a gradual process, so results appear over time rather than right away.

Calf Liposuction

If excess fat in the calves is the issue, liposuction may be the best fit. This method is less about reducing the calf’s overall size and more of an effort to improve the shape, especially around the ankles.

Liposuction involves a small incision, where liquified fat is removed. In addition to reducing fat, it also helps to tighten the skin.

Non-Surgical Calf Reduction Options

Calf reduction doesn’t always include going under the knife. If you’re looking for a less invasive option, here are a couple to choose from:


This treatment essentially involves burning nerves, which reduces activity and jumpstarts the atrophy process. Innovative devices pinpoint nerve locations that need treatment. Radio-frequency is effective in reducing the bulk and width of the calf.


Botox isn’t just for wrinkles! Injecting Botox into the gastrocnemius muscle essentially freezes its activity, causing it to shrink. Since it is temporary, patients will need routine treatment every four to six months.

The benefit of Botox is the absence of any downtime. Patients are able to go about their daily activities after treatment.

Ready to Slim Down Your Calves?

If you’re self-conscious about your calves’ appearance, it doesn’t hurt to learn more about calf reduction surgery. Improving their shape helps boost comfort and self-confidence. (Not to mention, you can eliminate the word “cankles” from your vocabulary.)

Whether you’re trying to reduce fat or get rid of the bulky look, your doctor can help you determine which procedure is right for you.

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