Calf Implants: Surgery To Improve Leg Shape

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Jill Daniels, Freelance Medical Writer

Jill Daniels is a freelance health writer based in New York City. She spent several years writing for WebMD, including their Weight Loss Clinic and Fertility Center programs. Jill has also written/reported for publications including InStyle, People and Women's Own. She received a degree in journalism for Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.


March 25 2007

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Attractive, well-defined legs are considered a good attribute in our society. But regardless of how much they exercise or how hard they work at it, some people simply can't build calf muscles that are in proportion to the rest of their bodies. For these people, there is an plastic surgery procedure option: calf implants, sometimes called leg implants. Calf implants or calf augmentation can make skinny legs into shapely legs, and can add both size and definition to the calves.

Calf implants have recently been spotlighted as a new, hot trend in plastic surgery. Turn on the TV or open a magazine and you might find a mention of the procedure. On the hit HBO show Entourage, Johnny "Drama" had his sights set on getting calf implants during one episode. And, reality TV personality Spencer Pratt of "The Hills" has been rumored to want implants, as well, according to at least one weekly magazine.

While the number of people undergoing the procedure in the United States is still relatively small, it has definitely grown considerably in the last few years. The procedure has been popular in areas such as Mexico and South America for much longer.

Who Can Benefit From Calf Augmentation?

Some people simply can't build their calf muscles despite how much effort they put into it – blame it on genetics. For those people who have naturally thin or undeveloped legs, calf implants can help create symmetry and build definition. Women typically seek calf implants because they want to achieve a more balanced look between their thighs and their calves. (Let's not forget, a well-defined calf can make legs look fantastic in a pair of heels!) Men generally opt for the implants because they want to emphasize bulk. In the case of body builders, a group of people who are known to turn to calf implants, the calf is typically among the most difficult muscles to enlarge through exercise. Calf implants help them avoid having skinny lower legs compared to pumped-up quad muscles.

How Calf Augmentation Works

The procedure involves the surgical insertion of soft, but solid silicone through an incision that is placed in one of the natural folds in the back of the knee. Because the calf is a two-part muscle, either one or two implants can be used depending on whether the patient desires either or both the inner and/or outer calf to be augmented. The implants come in several shapes and sizes, which allow for more natural-looking results.

While the implants can be placed deep within the calf muscles, they are typically placed over the calf muscles. The latter technique is a less surgically intensive procedure, and involves less pain and recovery time for the patient. Calf augmentation doesn't alter calf muscles, so the muscles can still function properly. The procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis with local or general anesthesia, and takes about an hour or so to complete.

Moving Beyond Cosmetics

While calf implants have recently gained notice because of their cosmetic appeal, the implants can also be beneficial in helping restore a more normal looking appearance for people who have certain congenital and physical defects like spina bifida, clubfoot and polio.