Calf Augmentation General Information

What is Calf Augmentation and who is an optimum candidate for the procedure?

Calf augmentation is a cosmetic procedure meant to alter the shape and size of the calf area through implant insertion.  If diet and exercise do not lead to a desirable leg contour, patients may seek out calf augmentation to add volume and shape to their lower legs.

Implant size and shape for each patient is unique and an experienced cosmetic surgeon who specializes in calf augmentation decides on the size and shape of each implant and decides on the correct placement within each leg.  The process of shaping the implant to suit the specific patient and accurately placing the implant are crucial to ensure a satisfactory appearance after healing.

Calf implants may enhance the shape and size of lower legs and the entire bodily contour through placement over existing muscles.  Candidacy for calf augmentation is a determination made by the practicing physician. Many significant factors must be considered for each patient including age, health factors, diet and family history.  A reasonable expectation level is also important.  Generally, potential candidates are in good health and have no serious illnesses or allergies that may interfere with a successful surgery.

How is Calf Augmentation performed?

Calf implants are solid, silicone prosthetic devices which are made to fit under the skin but over muscle tissue. They must be shaped prior to insertion into the body which is a process that requires skill and experience.  The necessary shape of each implant is decided upon after a thorough consultation with the practicing physician and an examination of the calves.  More than one implant may be required to create the desired appearance which is decided by the practicing physician and patient.

During the initial consultation, the legs are measured and appropriately sized implants are ordered and prepared sterile.  On the day of surgery the patient is placed under general anesthesia and lies face down during the procedure to access the calves.

An incision is made in the fascia between the skin and gastrocnemius muscle of the leg.  A special instrument is then used to create a space between the fascia and underlying muscle. This space is made just large enough for the implant to fit comfortably.  The implant is then gently maneuvered into the space and the same technique may be repeated to insert the second implant into the same leg if two implants were deemed necessary to achieve the desired effect.

Once the implants are inserted, the cosmetic surgeon will examine their placement to ensure that they are aligned properly.  After they are placed in the optimal position, the fascia is sewn or sutured together.  The patient may be moved to a recovery room to begin post-operative care when all incisions are sealed.

What is the recovery period like?

After calf augmentation, the short term recovery from the actual procedure begins. The surgical recovery takes about a week or so following the procedure itself.  During this period the patient is instructed to walk, but to elevate the legs when seated or laying down to reduce discomfort.

The first couple of days after surgery the patient will remain confined to a bed with legs elevated most of the time, with short trips to the restroom or around the house.  This helps to minimize extra pressure on the area and also reduce swelling.

Once the protective dressing is removed from the area, the patient is encouraged to begin a more normal routine which includes walking around. This allows the skin and muscles to become more accustomed to bearing the implants.  The patient may then also take short daily showers. Once the patient is feeling more comfortable, it is suggested to take longer walks even if there is some stiffness and discomfort. This is when the long term recovery phase begins to take over.

Long term recovery begins about three weeks after surgery and the skin surrounding the implants begins to stretch and accommodate the new shape.  Bruising around the incisions will gradually disappear and the surgeon may prescribe a special scar prevention medication to begin following the surgery.

Vigorous activities are discouraged to allow the healing process to take effect.  Patients normally resume regular activities about a month or so following surgery.  The specific restrictions during post-operative healing and long term healing will differ for each patient depending on their unique situation.

What risks are associated with Calf Augmentation and what preparation may be necessary?

Seeking out an experienced and professional cosmetic surgeon who is familiar with calf augmentation is an important part of avoiding unnecessary risks.  The procedure is not necessarily a routine cosmetic operation so finding a plastic surgeon who understands the unique risks associated with this surgery is important.

Any applicable risks for calf augmentation will vary from patient to patient.  Each patient will experience a different degree of swelling and bruising, which is determined by a number of factors including age, health and the region of the body that the procedure is being performed upon. There are inherent risks which apply anytime general anesthesia is used.

Fluid accumulation in the calves, called a seroma, may occur after calf augmentation.  Seromas may be drained and usually resolve within a few weeks.  Accumulation of blood in the skin after surgery is called a hematoma and usually must be removed surgically.  Hematomas may increase the risk of infection and may increase scarring. 

Scarring occurs with any surgery and final scar appearance cannot be predicted.  Scars may vary from a nearly invisible line to a large, raised, discolored scar depending on the body's reaction to healing.  Unwanted scars may be treated through medical or surgical intervention.

Asymmetry of the size and shape of the calves is a noteworthy complication.  It is impossible to create perfect symmetry and small differences should be expected.  This should be discussed with the practicing physician.

Calf implants have a limited life span and are not expected to last forever.  For example, the implant can break, leading to deflation of the calves.  Implants generally must be monitored and may need replacing every ten years or so, depending on the patient's individual case.

Ceasing the ingestion of any and all over the counter, herbal, and prescription medications and vitamins that affect bleeding to decrease your risk of hematoma formation is vital to prepare the body for surgery.  Patients should cease smoking for at least two weeks prior to surgery (even longer ideally), and smokers can face unique or elevated risks which should be thoroughly understood.  Due to this, discussing lifestyle and any forms of consumption which can affect the body's ability to heal should be thoroughly discussed with the cosmetic surgeon.

This is not an exhaustive list of risks or side effects and a thorough discussion between the patient and physician should occur to discuss risk factors.

How much does Calf Augmentation cost?

Calf augmentation costs vary based on location, the cosmetic surgeon, demand, the time and effort required during the procedure, as well as what's required during the procedure from start to finish (lab fees, anesthesiologist, hospital stay fee, etc.) 

Generally, spending anywhere from $3,000-$6,000 may be expected.  The exact cost of the procedure is of course highly variable and based on the specific situation and patient.  To consult with a cosmetic surgeon and discuss calf augmentation and the overall cost, find a surgeon in your area that is right for you.

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