Knee Fat: The Silent Cue to Aging You Never Expected
Imagine this: You’re a total health nut and run 5 days a week and spend the rest of your waking hours toiling over every bit of organic lettuce you put in your mouth. Your skin is radiant, your hair is long and healthy, and you have the optimal fat to muscle ratio working throughout your body— so you wear short skirts and cutoff shorts even though you’re far beyond the unspoken nothing-above-the-knees-past-30 rule that our mothers’ generation dutifully obeyed. You really look great, and nobody would have any idea how old you really may be until, gasp, they check out your knees.
“The fullness above the knees is complicated and not necessarily a sign of excess fat in most people. Many patients start to notice this area during middle age,” explains Jeffrey M. Kenkel, MD, FACS As the director at the Clinical Center for Cosmetic Laser Treatment in Dallas, Texas, he hears a lot of leg-area related complaints from patients wanting to restore the youthful look they once had. “At this time there may be fat there, but often there is skin redundancy as well. My experience with treating the fat has been excellent with liposuction. Treating skin laxity in this area has not been as successful. I have tried liposuction, laser liposuction, ultrasound assisted liposuction, Ulthera, and Thermi RF without any consistent result to tighten the skin.”
The knee area is notoriously tricky to treat— the fat simply adheres in a different manner than belly fat or other commonly fatty areas.
“I think this area is accentuated by an adherent region just above the kneecap which creates a crease further defining this area. Of course fat can accumulate just about anywhere and some of us are genetically predisposed to collecting it there. Almost every patient I see complains of this problem area.”
A New York Times article from a few years ago about the body-perfecting art of liposuction talked about how the pursuit of perfect is seemingly limitless:
“An increasing number of doctors are using a technique known variously as precision, selective or micro liposuction. The goal is to remove an ounce or three of fat from ankles, knees, chins, necks, backs and upper arms, according to some prominent plastic surgeons and dermatologists.
While Dr. Kenkel has not tried using CoolSculpting or Ultrashape on the fatty deposits just above the knees yet, some surgeons have been using these treatments as an off-label use to try and combat this extraordinarily common complaint amongst the middle aged. It’s a matter of fine-tuning the finest details, because even after undergoing liposuction to get rid of the small fatty deposits above and around knees, they’ll likely fit just about the same way in pants. The procedure is inherently different from more pronounced body parts like the abdomen, love handles, or thighs— all of which can drastically change the way we fit in our clothing. Liposuction of the knees, of any variety, is for the most meticulous of patients, eager to perfect every nook, cranny, corner, and line on his or her body.
For now, we’ll focus on liposuction-related therapies for this area and just thank our lucky stars that below-the-knee pencil skirts are having a total popularity resurgence.