What is a calf augmentation procedure?
Calf augmentation is a surgical procedure to enhance the appearance of the leg. It usually involves placing an implant made of silicone over the muscles along the calf, usually performed by plastic and reconstructive surgeons.
Why is calf augmentation done?
- If the lower leg is shrunken following injury or disease, an implant in the calf can help minimize the deformity.
- Calf implants won’t improve the function of the legs but may restore normal appearance.
How is the calf augmentation procedure performed?
Before the procedure
The patient has
- Historical and physical assessment by the surgeon.
- Routine blood and radiological tests.
During the procedure
- The procedure can be performed under local anesthesia or combined with general intravenous sedation.
- There will be no pain during the procedure.
- An approximately 4-cm incision is made behind the knee.
- Underlying fat, superficial and deep connective tissue (fascia) is dissected.
- A standard or custom-made implant made of silicone is inserted, lying flat against the muscle.
- The wound is sutured and dressed.
After the procedure and recovery period:
- Painkillers and antibiotics may be administered.
- Bed rest is advised for 12 to 14 hours.
- Rest with the legs elevated, without bending the knees.
- Patients are usually discharged 24 hours after surgery.
- Dressing to be kept on for around seven days.
- After seven days, pressure stockings may have to be worn for five weeks to provide support to the implant and keep it compressed against the muscle.
- Patients can walk and take care of themselves 24 hours after surgery.
- Patients can resume short walks and light work after seven days.
- Standing for long periods and lifting heavy objects should be avoided for three weeks.
- Patients can resume exercise and sports after eight to 10 weeks.
- Patients can resume work based on the nature and requirements of the job after a discussion with the surgeon.
- Scars generally heal well and are barely visible with time.
What are the risks and complications of calf augmentation?
Calf augmentation is a relatively safe procedure with low mortality and relatively few incidences of complications. As with any surgery, there are complication risks, most of which resolve on their own or with treatment.
Some possible complications are:
- Pressure problems due to tight dressing or large implants that may lead to severe pain
- Necrosis (tissue death)
- Skin slough (loss of skin)
- Hematoma (collection of blood forming a blood clot)
- Seroma (collection of fluid)
- Edema (swelling due to inflammation)
- Loss of sensation around surgical site, usually temporary
- Thickening of scar, keloid formation or hyperpigmentation (darkening of skin)
- The edges of the implants can show, affecting cosmetic appearance
- Long-term complication of the implant
- As it is a foreign material to the body, there is a risk of hardening around the implant