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Wrinkly and Fat Knees

Written by: Becki Murray

Updated by: Alice Hart-Davis

Last Updated: 5 January 2024

Knees don’t often steal the body-related headlines, but if you look at yours and they don’t look their best, it can be both annoying and a real confidence issue. Two key issues that can affect your knees are excess fat – which makes them look bulky, saggy, or puffy in appearance – and wrinkly knees, where skin texture and quality changes give them an aged appearance. Read our FAQs to discover what causes wrinkly and fat knees, plus what treatments are available to help. That includes the tweakments that offer skin rejuvenation with minimal side effects (such as knee stiffness), as well as lifestyle changes that may also help over time.

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What are wrinkly knees and fat knees?

‘Wrinkly knees’ and ‘fat knees’ are both colloquial terms — rather than formal terms or medical terms — describing unwelcome conditions that afflict the knee area.

‘Wrinkly knees’ are knees that have folds or creases in their skin, or that have loose skin or excess skin, or both. ‘Fat knees’ describes the accumulation of excess fat around the knee area. This fat can make your knees appear puffy or make them look larger than they should be compared to the rest of your legs.

Both wrinkly knees and fat knees are natural and nothing to worry about medically, but that doesn’t make them any more popular.

Can knees be both wrinkly and fat at the same time?

Yes, they can. As you’ll see from the following two sections, the causes of wrinkly knees and fat knees are not mutually exclusive.

Cruelly, your knees may appear both wrinkly and fatty if you have recently lost a significant amount of weight. This is because your knees will have lost some of the fat that provides volume under the skin and keeps your skin taut, leaving the skin looser and more apt to look wrinkly.

Wrinkly Knees

Why are my knees wrinkly?

Wrinkly knees have two main causes: first, your skin ageing; and second, movement.

  •       Skin ageing. As we get older, our skin naturally produces less collagen and elastin, the two proteins that give skin firmness and elasticity. The result is that our skin gradually sags and develops wrinkles. This natural process is sometimes called intrinsic ageing, and its effects are increased by extrinsic ageing, ageing caused by external factors. For example, the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sun exposure breaks down collagen and elastin fibres, deepening wrinkles; pollution and toxins can cause free radicals to damage your skin cells; and gravity’s relentless pull makes your skin sag further.
  •       Movement. Normal movement causes your knees to bend and flex hundreds or thousands of time each day — and your skin flexes along with your knees. Regular movements, from walking and climbing stairs through to kneeling, stretch and compress your skin. The more movement, the more likely it is to compromise your skin’s elasticity and contribute to wrinkles.

What causes fat knees?

There are two main causes of fat knees. First, if you put on extra fat, your body has to store it somewhere, and typically your knees will receive some of it. In any clothing that leaves your knees exposed, extra fat accumulated there will be visible and may be noticeable, even if your knees haven’t actually received a disproportionately large amount of fat.

Secondly, genetically it is possible that your knees will get more than their fair share of any extra fat your body has deposited. Different bodies naturally store fat in different areas; and if your body happens to naturally store fat in your knees, you will end up with more fat there. This natural variation means that you can have fat knees without having large deposits of fat in other parts of your body.

What tweakments are available for fat knees?

Four main types of tweakment can target fat deposits in the knee area:

  • Laser lipolysis: Laser lipolysis uses laser energy to release fatty liquids from fat cells, causing the cells to shrink. Your body then eliminates the fatty liquids naturally. An example is the Emerald ‘cold’ laser.
  • Fat Freezing: Cryolipolysis freezes fat cells, breaking them down and killing them. Your body metabolises the dead fat cells and eliminates them.
  • High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU): HIFU treatment uses ultrasound waves to target cells in the subcutaneous fat layer. The ultrasound destroys the fat cells, which release the fatty liquids they contain. Your body gradually eliminates the fatty liquids and the remnants of the fat cells. 
  • Radiofrequency (RF) treatment: Radiofrequency uses RF energy to heat up your tissues, disrupt fat cells, and stimulate collagen production beneath your skin. The boost in collagen over the weeks after the treatment can tighten your skin, making RF treatment a good way for attacking both fatty knees and wrinkly knees.

Can I get rid of fat knees by diet and exercise?

You may be able to make considerable improvements to fat knees by using a combination of diet and exercise, but you are unlikely to be able to get rid of fat knees altogether. 

First, follow a balanced diet that will cause fat loss, stay adequately hydrated, and make sure you get plenty of sleep for recovery. Second, perform strengthening and toning exercises such as these:

  • Squats to strengthen your quadriceps (front thigh) muscles and gluteal (buttom) muscles
  • Hamstring curls or straight-legged deadlifts to strengthen your hamstring (back of thigh) muscles
  • Lunges to strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles; and to improve knee stability
  • Step-ups to strengthen your quadriceps muscles
  • Leg lifts (either seated or supine) to tone your quadriceps muscles
  • Calf raises (either seated or standing) to strengthen your calf muscles

Consult a qualifier trainer for advice on these or other exercises that may be helpful.

Which tweakments can help me get rid of wrinkly knees?

The following six tweakments can help you reduce or remove wrinkles from your knees:

  • Microdermabrasion: Microdermabrasion can remove the outermost skin layer, encouraging your skin to renew its surface.
  • Chemical peels: By causing your skin to shed its outermost layer, chemical peels can rejuvenate the skin surface.
  • Microneedling: Also called ‘medical needling’, microneedling causes controlled damage to the skin’s surface, inducing a healing response and boosting the production of collagen.
  • Laser: Laser treatment can improve your skin texture by stimulating the production of collagen.
  • Dermal fillers: You can have fillers injected to add volume to the knee area, thus smoothing out wrinkles.
  • Radiofrequency (RF) treatment: Radiofrequency treatment not only disrupts fat cells to reduce fat deposits but also stimulates collagen production beneath your skin, which can gradually tighten your skin.

Can I get rid of wrinkly knees with the right skincare?

That depends on how wrinkly your knees are. Suitable skincare can make a big difference to wrinkly knees, but you may need to supplement skincare with other measures, such as tweakments to eliminate severe wrinkles.

Try these four types of skincare to help your wrinkly knees:

  • Moisturise. Use a moisturiser regularly to keep your skin hydrated. Drink plenty of water too.
  • Exfoliate. Exfoliate your skin to remove dead cells. Exfoliate gently and regularly rather than going overboard.
  • Apply anti-ageing cream. Retinoids or peptides can encourage your skin to produce more collagen, which will gradually improve the skin texture.
  • Apply sunscreen. Remember to apply sunscreen to minimise damage from ultraviolet radiation.

Are there surgical treatments for getting rid of wrinkly knees?

Yes — you can have a knee lift, which sounds like an exercise but is a cosmetic surgical procedure. The surgeon removes excess skin from the knee area, redrapes the remaining skin, and secures the skin in its new position with sutures. The procedure leaves visible scars, but the surgeon will normally try to hide them as far as possible in natural skin creases around the knee. A knee lift can be performed under either local anaesthesia or general anaesthesia. Either way, it is a serious procedure with a significant recovery period.

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