About Calf Implants
Calf Implants, also known as calf augmentation and calf enlargement.
Calf augmentation using implants is designed to increase the size and improve the shape of the calf. Patients seek calf implants to tone and define the lower leg if it cannot be achieved with exercise alone or to correct a muscle imbalance resulting from physical or birth defects or a disease such as polio, spina bifida or club foot. Patients may also be interested in a calf implant surgery if they would like their lower leg to be more anatomically proportionate to their thighs. The procedure is able to add mass as well as definition to the calf of the patient.
The results of a calf implant surgery are permanent. The cost of a patient’s calf implant surgery will vary depending on which cosmetic surgeon they decide to use as well as which geographic location they are in.
How is it performed?
Your legs will be measured during your consultation to determine the right implant size before they are ordered for surgery. On the day of surgery you will be given general anaesthesia and placed in the prone position (lying face down) on the operating table. An incision is made through the skin and connective tissue covering the muscle at the back of the knee. Your surgeon will locate the most salient nerve (tibial nerve) before forming a pocket large enough for the implant.
What are my options?
Types of implant and implant material
Calf implants are available in solid silicone or silicone gel. With silicone gel implants there is a small risk of capsular contracture (shrinking and tightening of the scar tissue around the implant) however this rarely occurs in calf implants. A solid silicone implant does have the risk of leaving a palpable edge (one that can be felt) if placed too close to the surface but this can be avoided easily by a skilled surgeon.
silicone gel calf implants are available in symmetrical sizes, best suited for the general population and anatomical (asymmetrical sizes) usually desired by body builders who want more dramatic volume. There is also the option of your surgeon custom-carving solid silicone implants into your ideal shape before insertion. Body fat is not an option for this procedure because it absorbs into the area where it is placed, so it generally only used for augmenting smaller areas of the body.
Your implants can be placed either submuscularly (within the muscle) or subfascially (just beneath the fascia).
Subfascial placement is frequently used because the procedure is less difficult and less invasive, and has a faster and less painful recovery time. There is a risk t of implant rotation or a palpable implant. Subfascial placement also requires much more attention to the placement of the implant than submuscular. The final appearance can also be less desirable because the shape is defined more by the implant than the muscle tissue.
Submuscular placement is generally considered more difficult because the incision must go much deeper into your muscle tissue. This means it usually causes greater discomfort and requires a few additional days of recovery. The benefits are that the implants can be more accurately and securely placed within the muscle and produce a more natural shape because the calf muscles cover the implant. Surgical complications such as vascular or nerve damage are also more easily controlled with submuscular placement.
What will my calf implants incisions and scars look like?
The incisions are made in the natural creases behind the knee.
What result can I expect?
Calf implant results are permanent. For safety, it’s important to return to your plastic surgeon’s office for follow up evaluation at prescribed times and whenever you notice any changes in your calf implants. Do not hesitate to contact your surgeon when you have any questions or concerns.
- Enhances and reshapes the calf as desired generally in a single procedure.
- Fast and easy to perform provided the proper steps are followed.
- Adds both mass and definition in the body builder seeking further muscle development.
- Patients experience swelling and discomfort of the lower leg in the immediate postoperative period with slight bruising around the incisions.
- Recovery to full physical activity generally takes 4 to 6 weeks.
- Final result can take a few months after surgery to appreciate.
After surgery, the incision sites will be slightly bruised and your lower legs will be swollen, but these will generally subside after a few days. When the anaesthesia wears off you may have some pain, but if the pain is extreme or long lasting, contact your physician. You will also have some redness and swelling after the surgery. Contact your surgeon to find out if your pain, redness and swelling is normal or a sign of a problem.
It is essential you follow all patient care instructions given to you by your physician. This will usually include information about which compression garments to wear, how to take care of your drains, how to take any antibiotics or painkillers, if prescribed and the level of activity that is safe for you to undertake. Your surgeon will also provide detailed instructions about the normal symptoms and how to spot any signs of complications. It is important to realize everyone’s body is different and so the amount of time it takes to recover varies between individuals.
The first two weeks
The first day or two after surgery, you should be assisted when getting up to go to the bathroom and your legs should be elevated as often as possible to reduce swelling and discomfort. The second day after surgery your dressings can be removed and you are encouraged to walk around the house and begin taking brief daily showers. You can expect to walk stiffly for the first week or so but you are encouraged to gradually walk greater distances.
Week two to eight
You will be able to start walking normally in the second and third week after surgery. The skin will start to stretch and the bruising and “shiny” appearance of the skin will begin to gradually fade. You should avoid all activities such as biking, running, weight-lifting or cycling until, at the very least, one or two months after surgery, depending on your comfort level. Full return to normal activities usually occurs after 4 to 6 weeks.
Limits & Risks
Significant complications from calf implants are not common. Your surgeon will discuss your specific risks for calf implants during your consultation. You should remember that all surgical procedures come with some degree of risk. You can minimize this risk by following the advice of your plastic surgeon before and after your cosmetic surgery procedure.
Some potential complications of all surgeries are:
- Adverse reaction to anaesthesia
- Hematoma or seroma (an accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin that may require removal)
- Infection and bleeding
- Changes in sensation
- Allergic reactions
- Damage to underlying structures
- Unsatisfactory results that may necessitate additional procedures
- Blood clots in your legs or lungs
Other risks specific to calf implants are outlined below:
- Visible implant due to incorrect pocket dissection or incorrect implant placement
- Nerve and/or muscle damage
- Slippage asymmetry