Calf Implants (Calf Augmentation)
Calf augmentation with implants is a procedure to improve the size and shape of the calf. Patients seek calf implants to enhance and define the lower leg if it cannot be achieved though exercise alone, or to correct a muscle imbalance resulting from physical or birth defects.
When to Consider Calf Implants
- If you seek to increase the size of the calf
- If you desire a lower leg that is more proportionate to your thigh
- If you are a bodybuilder and you’ve reached the plateau of calf enlargement with exercise
- If you wish to correct lower leg defects resulting from injury; disease, such as polio; or from birth conditions
- Enlarges and shapes the calf as desired, generally in a single procedure
- Fast and easy to perform
- Adds both bulk and definition in the bodybuilder seeking further muscle development
- Patients experience swelling and discomfort of the lower leg in the immediate postoperative period
- Recovery to full physical activity generally takes 4 to 6 weeks
- Final result can take a few months after surgery to fully appreciate
These are the top three pros and cons to consider when thinking about calf implants. If you want to focus on those specifically unique to you, please consult with Dr. Jensen.
How do I prepare for a calf implants surgery?
Dr. Jensen and his staff will provide thorough preoperative instructions, answer any questions you may have, take a detailed medical history, and perform a physical exam to determine your fitness for surgery.
Prior to your procedure, you will be asked to:
- Stop smoking
- Avoid taking aspirin, any anti-inflammatory drugs, and some herbal medications which can cause increased bleeding
- Hydration is very important before and after surgery for safe recovery.
- Possibly have blood and urine tests, and a pregnancy test for women, to prepare for anesthesia
Calf augmentation is performed on an outpatient basis. Be sure to arrange for a reliable person to drive you home after surgery and to stay with you at least the first night following surgery.
How is a calf augmentation performed?
- Your legs are measured during a preoperative office visit to determine the correct implant size for you. The implants are then ordered for surgery.
- The day of surgery, you are given Intravenous sedation and local anesthesia and placed in the prone position (lying face down) on the operating table.
- The incision is made at the back of the knee, through the skin and fascia covering the gastrocnemius muscle.
- Once Dr. Jensen locates the tibial nerve, the procedure can proceed without much concern for encountering other nerves or arteries, because there are few in this area.
- A pocket large enough only for the implant is made between this fascia and muscle, into which the implant is inserted.
- Once the implant is inserted the leg is examined before the incision is closed.
You are then placed in the supine position and taken to recovery.
What are my options?
Types of Implant and Implant Material
Calf implants are available in solid silicone rubber. Capsular contracture (shrinking and tightening of the scar tissue around the implant) rarely occurs in calf implants. Solid silicone implants can leave a palpable edge (one that can be felt) if placed too close to the surface. Silicone calf implants are available in symmetrical sizes, which are suited best for the general population, and anatomical (asymmetrical sizes), which are best used for bodybuilders who desire more dramatic volume than the average patient. One or two implants may be inserted in each leg. Body fat is not an option for this procedure, as it’s better used for augmenting smaller areas of the body, and because it often absorbs into the area in which it’s placed.
The implants are placed subfascially. Subfascial placement is used most often because the procedure is less invasive, less difficult, and leads to a faster, less painful recovery for the patient. However, subfascial placement can sometimes result in implant rotation and a palpable implant, and the postoperative appearance can be less than desired, because the calf shape is defined more by the implant and less by the muscle tissue. Lastly, subfascial placement requires more attention to implant placement.
What will my scars look like?
The incisions are made in the natural creases behind the knee. These tend to fade over three to four months where they are almost imperceptible.
What can I expect on the day of surgery?
Your calf implant surgery may be performed in our accredited office-based surgical suite. Most calf implant procedures take at least 1 to 2 hours to complete.
- Medications are administered for your comfort during and after the surgical procedure.
- Intravenous sedation with local anesthesia is commonly used during your calf implant procedure, although general anesthesia may be necessary in some instances.
- For your safety during the surgery, various monitors will be used to check your heart, blood pressure, pulse, and the amount of oxygen circulating in your blood.
- Dr. Jensen will follow the surgical plan agreed upon with you before surgery.
- After your procedure is completed, you will be taken into our recovery room where you will continue to be closely monitored. You may have drainage tubes in place. After implant surgery, you will be placed in a surgical dressing that includes a compression garment over your legs.
You will be permitted to go home after a short observation period unless you and Dr. Jensen have made other plans for your immediate postoperative recovery.
Dr. Jensen will discuss how long it will be before you can return to your normal level of activity and work. After surgery, you and your caregiver will receive detailed instructions about your postsurgical care from the recovery room nurse, including information about:
- Care of the drains, if they have been placed
- Normal symptoms that you should expect
- Signs of complication.
Immediately after your calf implant surgery
The incisions will be slightly tender and your lower legs will be swollen. Any postoperative pain or discomfort you experience will be managed with medication. These symptoms typically subside after a few days.
When the anesthesia wears off, you may have some discomfort. If the pain is extreme or long lasting, contact our office. You will also have some bruising and swelling after the surgery. Contact the office to find out if your pain, redness, and swelling is normal or a sign of a problem.
Recovery time frame after calf implants
It is vitally important that you follow all patient care instructions provided by our staff. This will include information about care of your drains if necessary, taking an antibiotic and the level and type of activity that is safe. Our staff will also provide detailed instructions about the normal symptoms you will experience and any signs of complications. It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.
The first two weeks
- The first day or two after surgery, you should ask for assistance when getting up to go to the bathroom and your legs should be elevated most of the time 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, but you are encouraged to gradually walk greater distances.
Week two to eight
- Normal walking starts to return during the second and third weeks after surgery
- The skin starts to stretch and the bruising and “shiny” appearance of the skin starts to disappear
- Activities such as running, biking, weight lifting should be avoided for one or two months after surgery.
- Return to normal activities usually occurs after four to six weeks.
Fortunately, significant complications from calf implants are rare. The specific risks for calf implants will be discussed during your pre-operative consultation.
All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Some of the potential complications of all surgeries are:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Hematoma or seroma
- Infection and bleeding
- Loss of sensation
- Allergic reactions
- Damage to underlying structures
- Unsatisfactory results that may require additional procedures
Other risks specific to calf implants are:
- Visible implant due to thin skin shifting of the implant
- Nerve and/or muscle damage
You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions of Dr. Jensen and his staff, both before and after your calf implant surgery.