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What is Calf augmentation?
Calf augmentation is a surgical procedure performed to enhance the lower portion of the leg. In individuals with a shrunken lower leg, as a result of injury or disease, an implant can be inserted in the calf to help minimize the resultant deformity. Although actual leg function is not improved, the goal of this reconstructive surgery is to help restore a more normal appearance.
Some people have naturally thin or underdeveloped calves, and despite exercise or diet, their legs remain small. These patients may request calf augmentation for purely aesthetic or cosmetic reasons.
Calf implants give your lower legs (your calf muscles) a shapelier and more defined contour. The implants can make your calf muscles look fuller and more muscular. A plastic surgeon places calf implants through small incisions in the creases in the back of your knees.
Your calf muscles are part of your musculoskeletal system. They help you flex your feet and rotate your ankles, allowing you to walk, run, and jump. These muscles are located in the back part of your lower legs behind your shin bones (tibias). Your calf muscles start at your knees and extend to the Achilles tendons in your ankles.
Your calf muscles are made up of two main muscles: the gastrocnemius and the soleus muscle. The gastrocnemius muscle forms the bulk of your calf muscle, giving your calves their shape. The soleus muscle is wide, flat, and sits deeper in the leg, and cannot be seen.
If you have decided to proceed with calf implants and have chosen an experienced surgeon, your key decisions will involve selecting an appropriate type and size of implant, and deciding on the implant brand.
Size and shape of implants
Implant sizes can vary in length, width, and thickness, as well as in their contours. Unlike choosing breast implants, it can be difficult to visualize what different sizes and shapes of calf implants will look like once they are in the leg. Sometimes it helps to place the implants on the sides of the calf and wear stockings over them to see the potential improvement. Your surgeon will help you with this decision.
Especially in cosmetic calf enhancement, two implants are needed to mimic the calf muscle because it has two muscle bellies or thick areas. Using one large implant can give an unnatural contour to the leg.
The size of implants chosen can impact pain and discomfort following implant insertion and the sustainability of the implants. If you choose a size that is too big for your legs, you may encounter problems arising from excessive pressure. Pain, muscle problems, and nerve impingement are common issues with very large implants.
The best approach for calf implants is to start with a smaller size and later upgrade to a larger size if necessary.
The calf implant goes just beneath the connective tissue between your skin and gastrocnemius calf muscle. Your surgeon may recommend this method because it’s less invasive. You should recover more quickly with less pain. However, a subcutaneous implant is more prone to shifting, which can require additional surgery to correct. You may also be able to see and feel the implant, and it may give a less-than-natural look.
The calf implant goes under your gastrocnemius calf muscle, making for a slightly longer and more painful recovery. Because your surgeon more securely and accurately places the implant into the muscle, you get a more natural look and feel.
What to expect
You should follow your healthcare provider’s instructions on how to prepare for calf implant surgery. You may need to:
Get a physical exam and blood tests to ensure you’re well enough for surgery. Get photographs taken to help your healthcare provider plan the procedure and compare before-and-after results. Fast (not eat or drink) for a certain period before the procedure. Not take certain medications before surgery, including vitamins and supplements. Take antibiotics to lower the chances of postoperative infection.
Frequently asked questions
The surgery typically takes between one and two hours to complete.
The recovery time varies depending on the individual, but most people are able to resume their regular activities within two weeks. However, it is important to avoid strenuous activities for the first few weeks post-surgery.
The truth is that the results of a calf enhancement are meant to be permanent, but some may need them changed when the calf implants are around 10-15 years old or if a patient needs a different size. Calf implants are made with a more robust solid silicone, rather than a saline or gel implant. Due to the implant being harder, they cannot rupture and there shouldn’t be a need to have them replaced over a lifetime.
During the recovery stage of your calf enhancement, keep your legs elevated as much as possible as this will help with the swelling and discomfort. After a couple of days, you will be able to remove the dressing from your new calf augmentation and begin to walk around the house. It is completely normal for the first two weeks to be walking with a limp but this will go away once your calf implants have recovered fully. After two weeks, you should be starting to walk normally and will also be able to walk for a further distance.