More and more patients are requesting body contouring or bodybuilding type implants that give better shape or contour in less obvious parts of the body, and this includes a surge in calf implants or calf augmentation. Dr Patrick Briggs, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon based in Perth WA has been performing calf implants for over 20 years and recently addressed the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons conference in Bali on the subject.
“The conference covered many topics on Plastic Surgery, I was lucky to have the medical paper that I had written with a colleague, Dr Alexandra O’Neill, win first prize. The paper was on Calf Augmentation. Despite having been described almost 40 years ago, Calf Augmentation remains a relatively uncommon procedure, so it made for an interesting topic to discuss among other Specialised Plastic Surgeons at this conference.”
Ten or twenty years ago calf implants were mostly requested by bodybuilders to give them a better shape or definition as the calf area can be a tricky area to bulk up or shape in some men. However, it was also used for patients with muscle deformities or those affected by diseases such as Polio. Dr Briggs says nowadays he does calf augmentations on a wide range of patients and it can really help those with asymmetry in their lower leg area. “Many women now are choosing to have calf implants to enhance and create more shapely lower legs. Calf implants can create definition in women whereas men usually have calf implants to create bulk. However, 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.”
Are Calf Implants or Calf Augmentation covered by Medicare?
If a calf augmentation is to fix a deformity or trauma you may be covered by Medicare, however it is usually considered a cosmetic procedure. As with any other augmentation using implants there are different shapes and sizes available and Dr Briggs says it’s a matter of matching the implant to suit the patient. “You need to be measured and sized appropriately 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 mould of the leg is usually taken prior to the implant being constructed. The measurements need to be specific and in proportion to the rest of your body to achieve optimum results.The calf implants are made of solid but soft silicone. They are soft but firm and once inserted they can feel like the legs of well-exercised and developed calf muscles.”
Calf Augmentation Recovery
The calf augmentation recovery is really important to ensure successful final results and Dr Briggs says it’s essential to follow instructions. Along with wearing compression stockings up to four weeks after the surgery, you will be required to stay off your legs for at least two to five days. Dr Briggs gives us other advice and describes the post-surgery period. “Most people describe the pain as being “stiff and sore” similar to a strained muscle. On arriving home from the surgery you must sit or lie with your legs elevated higher than your body. Movement can increase the risk of infection and bleeding and the implants may shift if too much exertion is placed on the lower legs. It is important not to wear totally flat shoes as this can put pressure on the calf muscles and increase your pain and discomfort. If your work is not physical, you will require two weeks off. If your work entails physical or strenuous labour, you may require three weeks off. Normal strenuous exercise can be resumed at six weeks. This is to ensure that the implants are securely positioned.”
Incision and Scar Care
Scars are a consequence of surgery. Many patients are, naturally, concerned about the size and quality of a scar and the long term result. All scars will improve over time but never completely disappear. The ideal outcome is a flat pale scar that is barely discernible but not invisible.
For Calf Augmentation the scar is short (2 inches) and located on the back of the leg in the knee joint area. If scar care is followed and the patient doesn’t have a predisposition to scarring, then it should fade to be almost invisible within a matter of months.
Dr Briggs has developed a regime for patients to follow after surgery to ensure that their scars have the best possible outcome. “Scars demonstrate the unique healing process of each individual, and the bottom line some people will scar better than others. If you are thinking of having surgery, particularly one that carries a larger excision area, I will discuss with you your likely scarring outcome. For individuals with darker skin or from Mediterranean descent there is the possibility of developing darker or hypertrophic scars.”
There are three main things that Dr Briggs insists his patients do after their surgery, they include:
1. Local daily massage
Firm massage to the area in circular motion. It is important not to use products like moisturizers with fragrances to do this massage as it can cause irritation and make the scar inflamed.
2. Strataderm scar cream
This is the ultimate product to be used alongside massage. It is medical grade and specifically designed for improving the appearance of surgical and accidental scars.
Dr Briggs says iIf your recent surgery is making you feel confident enough to lie outside exposing your fresh scars to the sun please rethink this. He says, “The sun can have an extremely negative impact on the appearance of scars. Even if your scar is a couple months old, the sun cause it to stain dark brown and be much more noticeable. Scars are also more susceptible to skin cancers, so it’s important to make sure to cover up your scars. In the first few weeks following surgery this will mean wearing clothing over them (compression socks) and then later down the track you should put on suncream.”
If you’d like more information on Calf Implants or Augmentation check out Dr Briggs’ website or to arrange a consultation phone his clinic on (08) 9381 9300.