Calf Implants

Calf implants have been available for many years. They were designed initially for body builders who were unable to achieve the desired bulk and definition proportionate to their bodies. For some body builders, the calf muscles are one of the hardest muscle groups of the body to develop.

Calf implants are not just for cosmetic enhancement, but are also used in the correction of injury or muscle deformities. Calf implants are used in the treatment of diseases such as Polio, Spina Bifida or a Clubfoot, where calf muscle wastage has occurred in either one or both legs.

Many women now are choosing to have calf implants to enhance and create more shapely lower legs. Calf implants can create definition in women where as men usually have calf implants to create bulk.

The calf implants are made of solid but soft silicone. They are supple but firm and once inserted they can feel like the legs of well-exercised and developed calf muscle.

You need to be measured and sized appropriately by Dr Briggs prior to surgery. Not all manufactured calf implants fit everyone. In some cases, the calf implants may need to be custom made if the patient requires a unique size or design. If this is the case, a CT scan be will be taken and the implant manufacturer will use computer generated mapping to create an implant for the patients individual measurements. The measurements need to be specific and in proportion to the rest of your body to achieve optimum results.

Body builders will often request the biggest; this may not be the best, as each patient will have individual requirements. Symmetry and balance with the overall body is a very important factor when evaluating the patient.

You may require one implant per calf or two depending on the requirements and the implant manufactured.

During your consultation your surgeon will ask you about your wishes and desires for the outcome of your surgery.

The ideal candidates for calf implants are those:

  • Who have underdeveloped calf muscles
  • Who want to improve the shape of their lower legs
  • Body builders – where exercises has failed to develop calf muscles
  • Where contouring with liposuction is not an option
  • Affected by injury or diseases eg. Polio, Spina Bifida or Clubfoot
  • Wanting to correct “bow legs”
  • With asymmetry of the lower legs
  • Wants to increase the attractiveness of the calf contour.

The calf implant operation will be performed in hospital and usually dictates an overnight stay. A general anaesthetic is normally the choice of anaesthetic.

If your surgery is for correction of a deformity or injury your private health may contribute to the costs of the procedure, especially in regards to hospital fees. 

Prior to the procedure Dr Briggs will draw on your legs. This is to ensure final measurements and positioning of the implant/s.

A small incision is made at the back of the knee (in the posterior popliteal crease). The underlying tissue is raised off the existing muscle and the implants are placed on top of the existing calf muscle (Gastrocnemius muscle).

The procedure takes approximately one to two hours to perform.

When you wake from the surgery you will be in compression stockings. You will be laying semi upright and your legs will be elevated higher than your body. This is very important to aid in reducing the post-operative swelling.

You will require a companion to assist in transporting you home. It is important not to wear totally flat shoes as this can put pressure on the calf muscles and increase your pain and discomfort.

You will be wearing compression stockings that will be required to be worn for up to six weeks, as discussed with Dr Briggs.

Most people describe the pain as being “stiff and sore” similar to a strained muscle. Mr Briggs will assist with any discomfort with prescribing oral pain medication. Antibiotics will also be prescribed to decrease the risk of infection.

On arriving home from the surgery you must sit or lie with your legs elevated higher than your body. “Bed rest” for two to five days may be required. You are, however, able to go to the bathroom and shower normally, albeit briefly.

You must follow Dr Briggs’ instructions regarding bed rest and elevation of your legs. The reasons are that movement can increase the risk of infection and bleeding. The implants may shift if too much exertion is placed on the lower legs. It will also increase your pain levels.

It is important to keep the wounds clean to prevent any contamination and infection.

Support tape may be applied to the suture lines; the sutures will dissolve over time, usually around three weeks post-surgery.

If your work is not physical, you will require two weeks off. If your work entails physical or strenuous labour, you may require three or more weeks off. 

Normal strenuous exercise can be resumed at six weeks. This is to ensure that the implants are securely positioned.

Remember that surgery is not an exact science. Your own body can change the course of healing. You may even require adjustment surgery. Never look at cosmetic as a completely risk free venture. Research your options and become well informed. Dr Briggs will discuss the most commonly associated risks.

Complications that can occur include:

  • Infection – which may be treated with antibiotics. In the case of severe infection, the implant may need to be removed. Re-augmentation may not be possible for up to six months.
  • Implant displacement – this may occur if strenuous exertion is placed on the muscles too early.
  • Bleeding – in rare instances further surgery may be required to assist in the removal of a haematoma.
  • Dissatisfaction with the surgical result.
  • Muscle weakness – rare.
  • May need to be removed later in life if you develop circulatory disease.

Benefits of the procedure:

  • Increased confidence
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Improve and enhance lower leg shape
  • Increase bulk and projection
  • Restores proportion
  • Corrects calf muscle wasting deformities

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