The tides are changing. Hemlines are rising. It’s all about the legs, legs, legs. An often overlooked part of the body, the legs can fall victim to a variety of different problems and concerns that force millions of women to keep them covered up due to self-consciousness and limited clothing choices.
But the days of hiding behind long pants and below-the-knee skirts are over. Who says so? Oh, you know, just the hottest celebrities who, despite their age, refuse to give up the mini. And for good reason, their legs look fantastic.
With hot celebrities like Jessica Alba daring us to wear short skirts as confidently as they do, it’s time to get our legs back to their best.
While diet and exercise should always be your first line of defense when tackling thigh fat, there are options for when you need a little extra help to get thighs as thin as Cameron Diaz. “Liposuction is still the gold standard for exercise-resistant areas such as the thighs,” says Reno, NV, plastic surgeon Tiffany McCormack, MD.
But the skin on the thighs tends to be thin, so your doctor may suggest laser liposuction, which is believed to lend a tightening effect. Different than traditional liposuction, laser liposuction delivers a wave of laser light to stimulate collagen production to tighten the skin over subsequent months.
Somewhat controversial, some experts feel that laser lipo can help to firm the thighs while others feel that it offers little or no tightening benefit.
Jennifer Aniston‘s cellulite-free legs are the result of countless hours of yoga, which revs up circulation and firms muscles. Other great exercises to tone your legs include Pilates, belly dancing, kick boxing, and squats and lunges.
Fatty knees? No thank you. We prefer perfect proportion like supermodel Naomi Campbell. The knees can also be treated with liposuction to get rid of unnecessary fat with an incision at the knee or the groin (an incision in the groin also addresses fat in the thighs and results in less swelling during recovery).
“This area is amenable to sculpting and shaping with liposuction, but caution needs to be taken because the fat pockets are smaller and contour deformities can be more obvious,” says Dr. McCormack. When done right, liposuction to the knees can give good results and a barely visible scar. But you’ll need to wait a few weeks for the swelling to go down before the final results can be seen.
What’s a “banana roll?” The area where the butt and upper thighs meet can be home to a resistant bulge or roll of fat. “This is one area that responds extremely well to both laser and standard liposuction,” says New York and Great Neck, NY, plastic surgeon Kevin Tehrani, MD. Supermodel Gisele Bundchen‘s legs are a great example of how the thigh should curve to meet the butt.
Want slim calves like actress Gwyneth Paltrow? Minimizing large, bulky-looking calves can be achieved with neurotoxins (used off-label). Since neurotoxins paralyze the muscle, it also atrophies it to some degree. “Repeat treatments are necessary, but the calves can look smaller and less bulky,” says Dr. Tehrani.
The mark of really beautiful legs can be found in the lower region, particularly trim, shapely ankles, like those of singer Rihanna.
Cankles (fat deposits that live where the leg meets the ankle) can be treated surgically with liposuction on the inner and outer portion of the ankle. Although it’s a rare area to treat, it’s also a tricky one because of the number of nerves that live at the base of the leg. The recovery is pretty lengthy due to the amount of time it takes for swelling to subside—like the knees, the ankles are far away from the heart, so it takes longer for the blood to recirculate, and the area tends to stay swollen longer.
As we age, our skin becomes loose and saggy, which makes the legs look old, even if they are relatively slim. How can you fix this? Stimulate new collagen to achieve super-smooth skin like Stacy Keibler.
“Collagen production can be stimulated with fractional resurfacing to smooth the skin and improve its appearance,” says Hunt Valley, Maryland, dermatologist Karen Beasley, MD, adding that, if the skin is somewhat saggy, a radio-frequency treatment, like Thermage or Exilis, may minimally tighten the skin. While it can prove skin-smoothing benefits, it may not work on all patients.
Thanks to years of dancing, Jennifer Lopez has supersmooth and toned legs. One theory to get rid of cellulite is to use massaging machines with vacuum devices to stretch out the fibrous bands of tissue that are surrounded by fat cells that contribute to that unwanted dimpled look. Endermologie is one option, yet some doctors believe the benefits are typically temporary.