Stepping off the calf raise machine at the gym, you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. For as long as you can remember, no matter how hard you workout and stretch, your calf muscles have never changed shape.
And while you smile when your family make jokes that you inherited the ‘puny, scrawny calf gene’, deep down you wish you could change them.
It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, if the size and shape of your calves are frustrating you; there is an easy, surgical solution with calf implant surgery.
What are calf implants?
Men and women who are unhappy with the size and shape of their calves can get calf implant surgery (also called calf augmentation).
Calf implant surgery is a surgical procedure that involves inserting a solid, silicone implant into a pocket that overlies the calf muscle. This implant increases the size, contour and shape of the calves.
Who is suitable for calf implant surgery?
Calf implant surgery offers a quick and easy solution for people who want better-contoured calves. Typically men get calf implants to create a fuller-appearing, bulkier calf muscle while women get calf implants to create a more natural, contoured lower leg.
Calf muscles can be very hard to develop so they change shape – even with vigorous, weight bearing exercises.
You may be a suitable candidate for calf implants if:
- You are a body builder or athlete who wants to enhance their appearance
- Your calves are asymmetrical and/or unbalanced
- You are considering liposuction of your thighs or knees and want to improve the appearance of your calves
- Your lower legs lack the muscle contours you desire
- You have a medical condition (including spina bifida, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, clubfoot and polio) or a congenital defect that has affected the normal development of the lower leg and calf muscles.
How is calf implant surgery performed?
Calf implant surgery is generally performed as an outpatient procedure under a general anaesthetic. Depending on the extent of the procedure, a calf implant can be completed within 1 to 2 hours. The aim of calf implant surgery is to insert an implant that imitates the volume and shape of the gastrocnemius muscle – the most superficial muscle in the back of your calf.
After you’ve chosen your experienced and highly trained Cosmetic Surgeon, you will need to consider the size and type of calf implants. While your Cosmetic Surgeon will guide you, it’s important to consider:
1 Type of calf implants
While all calf implants are composed from soft, solid silicone, some Cosmetic Surgeons prefer to use contoured silicone that is made from soft-solid silicone elastomer. These types of calf implants can be tailored specifically for your requirements.
2 Size and shape of calf implants
Calf implant sizes vary in thickness, length, width and contours. You will need to choose two implants to mimic the calf muscles, as a single calf implant will give a fake contour to your leg. Your Cosmetic Surgeon will guide you with the best calf implants to choose. It is important to note that if you choose a calf implant that is too large, you may experience issues with pressure and/or pain. Muscle problems and nerve impingement can also occur.
The incision (typically measuring) between 5 to 7cm will be placed in the natural skin fold at the back of your knee. Your calf implants are then inserted into this ‘pocket’ before the incision is closed.
Calf implants can be placed in your leg either under the fascia or deeply within the muscle. The most popular method is under the fascia as it requires less dissection and leads to faster recovery times. It is important to note that in some cases, calf implants in the sub-fascia can lead to a rotation or drift of the implant.
I want calf implant surgery. Where do I find the best Australian Cosmetic Surgeons who specialise in calf implants?
While some Cosmetic Surgeons say they perform calf implant surgery, it is very important to find someone fully qualified and trained that performs this procedure at least once a month. Calf augmentation surgery is a unique operation that requires good aesthetic skills.
We suggest you have a few consultations with Cosmetic Surgeons on your shortlist – here are some questions you may like to ask them:
- How many calf implants did you undertake in the last 3 months, last month and last week?
Have there ever experienced any complications from implant shifting or infection?
Find the best Australian Cosmetic Surgeons for calf implants here.
What is recovery after calf implant surgery like?
To ensure a good recovery and quick healing process after your calf implant surgery, it is important to:
- Take the prescribed medications.
- Have bed rest with your legs elevated for the first 24-48 hours to reduce swelling.
- Only take short walks for routine activities as required.
- Wear a specially designed compression support above the knees for 6-8 weeks after surgery.
- Avoid strenuous activities including as bicycling, jogging, and leg exercises for at least 8 weeks after calf implant surgery.
Most patients will need to take 1-2 weeks off work. If you have a physically active job, you will need to take more time off. Your Cosmetic Surgeon will advise you of your optimal recovery time.
It is normal to have swelling and bruising after calf augmentation surgery. In most people this will subside over a 7-14 days. The incision scar will take at least 10 days to heal.
What risks or complications can occur with calf implant surgery?
Calf implant surgery is a very safe procedure; however as with any surgery where general anaesthesia is used, there are possible risks and complications. To reduce any risk in calf implant surgery, it is very important to use a Cosmetic Surgeon who is highly trained and performed many calf implant procedures.
Specific risks and complications of calf implant surgery include:
- Implant displacement. While this is rare, it can occur in the first 10 days after your surgery. It is important to note that this complication can be corrected without having another operation. If you experience a calf displacement after 10 days, you will need to have another surgical procedure.
- Infection. This can be treated in a number of ways including draining, implant removal, and a course of antibiotics, either alone or in various combinations.
- Nerve injury. Key nerves in your calf area can be damaged when the pockets are created for the calf implants. Nerves can also suffer damage from the implants pressing on them after insertion. Some patients encounter severe pain that does not subside with time due to nerve injury or excessive pressure.
- Closed compartment syndrome. This can occur because of excessive pressure on your muscles and nerves. If the calf implant is too big, it will need to be replaced with a smaller one.
Find out more facts about calf implant surgery here.
Image copyright: ocusfocus / 123RF Stock Photo