Person's ankles and feet

Originally developed to restore leg volume lost due to illness, calf augmentation is now a common cosmetic procedure. People seek calf augmentation to correct any number of issues and create stronger, fuller legs, especially if they have reached a plateau of what can be achieved via weight training alone.

Calf augmentation can have a positive effect on self-esteem and self-image. Good candidates for calf augmentation often have weaker calf muscles due to genetics or prolonged illness. Augmentation may be the only way to get real results, so it can be a highly positive experience for many. 

Calf augmentation takes two forms: calf implant surgery and fat grafting. The former entails inserting silicone implants in the legs, while the latter involves harvesting fat from another part of your body and using it to fill out the legs.

If you have decided to undergo calf augmentation, deciding between implants and grafting can be difficult. There are benefits and drawbacks to each procedure, and a lot also depends on your personal goals, health, and lifestyle. Below, we will discuss the basics of each procedure to help you make an informed decision about what is right for you.

What Are Calf Implants?

Calf implants are solid silicone-based implants surgically inserted into the leg. They help enhance the appearance of the calf muscles, creating a more voluminous, muscular appearance to add fullness and shape.

Calf implant surgery is performed under general anesthesia. The procedure is performed by making a limited incision behind the knee. A pocket is created, either above or behind the muscle, and one or two solid silicone rubber implants are inserted into each leg. This is an outpatient procedure, so you can go home the day of the operation.

The first two weeks after getting calf implants, it is recommended that you stay off your feet and refrain from exercise. You will have to wear compression bandages during this time. Your surgeon may ask you to refrain from drinking alcohol for a set time period after implant surgery.

What Is Fat Grafting?

Fat grafting is a less invasive form of calf augmentation. During fat grafting, your surgeon harvests fat from another part of your body via liposuction. This fat is then processed and purified before being strategically re-injected into the calves to improve the overall appearance of your legs.

As with calf implants, fat grafting comes with a recovery period, but a much shorter one as it’s a less invasive procedure. You can usually return to regular physical activity in five to seven days after the swelling has gone down, although vigorous exercise should be avoided for about six weeks after the surgery.

Although the increases in volume achieved with fat grafting are usually not as significant as with silicone based implants, more volume can be provided with additional fat grafting procedures after healing from the initial one.

Calf Augmentation: Implants or Fat Grafting?

Deciding between implants or fat grafting can be a difficult decision, so it is vital to weigh the pros and cons of each.

Implant procedures usually yield more dramatic results. Implants may also allow you more control over the specific shape of your legs. 

However, getting implants is far more invasive than fat grafting. It usually costs more money and comes with a much longer recovery time. There also may be a slightly higher risk of complications as it’s a more complex surgery.

Calf augmentation with fat grafting is a good option for those looking to avoid invasive surgical procedures. Recovery time is much shorter and the risk for complication is slightly lower.

The results are sometimes more natural looking, but not as dramatic. Those seeking major changes may not reach their goals through fat grafting. Fat grafting is also not as stable a solution. If you gain or lose weight after fat grafting, the size of your calves may follow.

In addition to weighing your personal goals, talk to your plastic surgeon. Factors like your health history, lifestyle, and body shape may all affect what form of calf augmentation would suit you best. A qualified surgeon can help you make the final decision between implants and grafting to ensure you are happy with your results.

Calf Augmentation: The Bottom Line

Both forms of calf augmentation – implants and fat grafting – can markedly improve self-esteem and self-image. Not everyone can achieve adequate calf muscle through exercise alone, so grafting is a way to get you through plateaus so you can look and feel your best.

The best way to decide between fat grafting and implants is to educate yourself on both procedures. You should also talk things over during a consultation with a plastic surgeon to determine the best course of action for you.

Ready to get started? Leif Rogers is an Ivy League-educated, board-certified plastic surgeon and a standing member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. If you’re considering calf augmentation, get in touch with his team to schedule a consultation.

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