Are you embarrassed or self-conscious about your skinny calves? You’ve tried everything under the sun but no amount of exercise or non-invasive treatment has given you the results you want? Did you know there are calf implants for men and women alike that may help correct the problem and give you legs you can be proud of?
One Patient Discusses Her Experience with Calf Implants
Calf implants, also known as calf augmentation, seem to be quite common in other parts of the world like Latin America but less so in the U.S. and Canada. Many of us, including some doctors, have no idea that such a procedure can be performed. But it can be a very gratifying surgery not only for cosmetic reasons but for people with misshapen legs and deformities caused by injury or disease.
What is calf augmentation?
Calf augmentation is a surgical procedure that involves the insertion of silicone implants to improve the appearance of the lower portion of the leg (below the knee). Calf implants for women may involve only the inner part of the calf to create better proportion, while some men may want to fill out the contours of both the inner and outer leg to gain a bulkier, fuller-looking calf.
The implants are relatively simple to place and may be able to be done without general anesthesia. They are inserted into a “pocket” over the calf muscle. While you may have a 2-inch scar behind your knee as a reminder, the trade-off may be worth it. And if you don’t like the results, the procedure can be easily reversed.
There are several ways to perform calf implants and it will depend on your anatomy, medical history, and your objectives. You should discuss your options with a board-certified plastic surgeon who has skill and experience with calf augmentation.
How are they inserted?
The calf muscle has two “heads”, one on the upper inside and the other on the upper outside of the leg. The muscle is on the back of the leg, attaches to the femoral bone, and travels down the leg to end up as the Achilles tendon. Soft, solid silicone implants are placed in pockets over the muscles. There may be one implant or two per leg. They are inserted through small incisions in the creases behind the knee.
Your surgeon will measure your legs and order the implants well before surgery. He or she will shape the implants to suit your anatomy. When the procedure begins, you will be lying on your stomach. The surgeon will make an incision in the fascia, the tissue that covers the muscle, and then create a pocket between the fascia and muscle that is large enough to hold the implant. The implant is placed into this pocket and then sutured. If both heads of the muscle are being altered, a second pocket would be created for implant placement.
The procedure takes about one hour and is usually done on an outpatient basis.
What about recovery?
During the first week after surgery, you will be walking at least short distances but should elevate your legs when sitting or lying down. This will help keep the swelling down and prevent discomfort. Your doctor will instruct you when to start more vigorous walking which will help the muscle get accustomed to the implants and stretch the skin. Your walking may be a bit stiff for a few weeks.
You may encounter some bruising and/or swelling but these will diminish as you heal. Obviously, you will have to refrain from activities like running and biking until given permission by your doctor. If there are no complications, you can usually resume your normal activities within 4 to 6 weeks.
It is important for the implant to become fixed in its pocket so, if you are a marathon runner, you should refrain from doing too much too soon.
Am I a good candidate?
If you avoid wearing shorts or short skirts because you are embarrassed about the shape or size of your lower legs, you may be a good candidate for calf implants.
You may also be a great candidate for calf augmentation if you suffered a trauma or have a condition that causes muscle deterioration or atrophy, such as polio, cerebral palsy, spina bifida or scleroderma. Calf implants may help contour and balance your legs and may improve mobility.
Bodybuilders frequently encounter problems trying to build up essential muscles such as the calf. Calf implants can add mass and definition.
You should be in good health. Smokers may face elevated risks. If you have circulatory problems or severe problems affecting your legs, calf augmentation is not advised.
Are there any risks or side effects?
All surgeries that involve general anesthesia involve risks. You may also experience bleeding, although it is reportedly minimal with calf augmentation. Other common risks or side effects include:
- itching sutures
- implant may slip out of place
- implant may break
It is impossible to create perfectly identical matching calves. Hopefully you have selected a plastic surgeon skilled in calf augmentation and asymmetry will not be a problem.
If great care is not taken to create pockets for the implants to hold them securely and place them precisely, slippage can occur. Under rare circumstances, implants can break. They do not last forever and you may have to replace them about every 10 years.
What is the average cost of calf implants?
The average cost of calf augmentation with 4 implants is between $6,500 and $7,500. This includes the surgeon’s fee, anesthesia, implants and facility fee.
Patients are usually very satisfied after undergoing calf implants, enjoying more defined calf muscles and smoother looking legs. However, calf augmentation is not a common procedure. You must do your research to find the right surgeon who can help you get the best results. The ability to skillfully perform calf augmentation comes from performing them on a regular basis. Ask a lot of questions.