My Experience Having Calf Implant Surgery (With Before and After Photos)
Procedure specific satisfaction rating
Ok folks, if you're reading this, you're likely suffering from the same thing I used to suffer from -- small calf muscles. Like me, you won what I like to call the 'chicken leg lottery' and were, unfortunately, born with those skinny legs most people dislike. Don't worry though, also like me, you can do something about it.
I still remember the day I was first made aware of my skinny legs. I was a sophomore in high-school and was in my school's gym bench pressing, when one of my 'friends' who was lifting with me pointed out that I had really small calf muscles. At the time, I didn't think much of it, but from that point forward, I was hyperaware of my small calves.
It wasn't until college that my calves started really bothering me. I attribute my concerns to the fact that I became a big weightlifter in college. I often lifted for 2-3 hours a day, 7 days a week. I wasn't a professional bodybuilder, but I was 6'1" 205 lbs of solid muscle. I even had a six pack, despite not having the healthiest diet in college. Despite my muscular build, I still had one imperfection no amount of lifting seemed to fix. No matter how hard I exercised my lower legs, they would not grow. I tried doing calf raises in a number of ways, but nothing seemed to help. I did not want to be the guy in a meme circulating the internet with a caption that said 'friends don't let friends skip leg day.' (Don't deny it, you know you've seen one of these memes circulating on social media!) I almost always wore long pants to hide my small calve muscles and it was really impacting my self-esteem.
Since it seemed like I was not going to be able to build up my calves naturally, I began researching calf augmentation surgery. Years earlier, I remember seeing an episode of MTV True Life, where a guy named Luke had calf implant surgery after being unable to naturally build up his calf muscles. At the time, I honestly laughed at the guy on the episode. It seemed ridiculous that he would even consider calf implants. However, there I was, considering the same thing. In the episode, Luke gets silicone implants placed through a small incision in his leg. The episode follows him walking around on crutches while he recovers from surgery. Luke seemed happy with his results and his recovery didn't seem too harsh, so I began heavily researching the same procedure.
I started my research the same way every one else does - with a Google search. I researched different types of calf implant procedures and came across 2 main techniques: fat transfer and implant surgery. I read a number of reviews on both procedures and came to the conclusion that implant surgery was superior to fat transfer. The issue with fat transfer, was that you needed fat from another part of your body to transfer (which I didn't have) and results of the surgery largely depended upon the percent of fat that dissipated during transfer. Some people online spoke of uneven calf muscles caused by this dissipation of fat, which wasn't something I wanted, even if I had fat to transfer! That left me with silicone calf implants being my only option.
The next part of my research process involved finding a good plastic surgeon. It's important to mention that while there are cosmetic surgeons who perform calf implant surgery and other cosmetic surgery, ABMS board-certified plastic surgeons are the only doctors who are specifically trained during their residency to do this procedure. It seemed like most of the good plastic surgeons who performed calf implant surgery were in New York, California and Miami. After looking at many before and after photos of patients who had calf implant surgery by various surgeons, I finally settled on Dr. Andrew Ordon, who is best known for being on that TV show The Doctors. I, however, visited him before he became a big star.
I scheduled a consultation with Dr. Ordon at his Beverly Hills location. During the consultation, Dr. Ordon examined my legs and told me I was a good candidate for calf implant surgery. He told me he would place two solid silicone implants, which he would shape to fit behind my gastrocnemius muscle, in each leg through a 1.5" incision behind my knees. I would need to be completely off my feet for the first week (or longer if I was very bruised and swollen), needed to wear compression garment socks for 2-3 weeks and could not resume all of my normal activities (lifting, running, etc.) for 6 weeks. He also told me that while the surgery was very safe, there was a risk of nerve damage, scar tissue formation, seromas (excess fluid buildup), bleeding, infection, etc., which are common risks with any surgery. However, since I was an ideal candidate for surgery - young, healthy, no previous medical conditions - my level of risk was quite low. Satisfied with what I had heard, I decided to book the surgery that very day. The cost of my implant surgery would be around $15,000, which included the surgeon's fee and general anesthesia. I had arrived had Dr. Ordon's office prepared to book the surgery and after I met with him, I felt comfortable enough with him that I decided I didn't want to wait any longer. My surgery was set 2 months away. I would be 23 at the time of my surgery.
On the date of my surgery, I arrived at the hospital early in the morning. I checked-in and was brought to a pre-op room, where I changed into a gown and was hooked up to a heart monitor and received an IV. Dr. Ordon then came in to the room and marked up my calf muscles. He told me that the markings would help guide the placement of the custom implants he would be inserting. After he was done, I was wheeled into the operating room and before I knew it, the anesthesia administered to me through my IV knocked me out very quickly. Around 2 hours later, I woke up in the recovery room and was happy to see that I did not have drainage tubes put in (one less thing to worry about during my recovery!).
When I woke up in recovery, I didn't feel much of anything. I think I was still doped up from the pain medication and anesthesia they gave me during the procedure. I was, however, very thirsty but the nurses told me to hold off drinking water for a bit.
Post-Op Recovery Experience:
I definitely had post-operative pain the day after surgery. Fortunately, the prescription pain killers I was given seemed to help tremendously. I also felt a feeling of heaviness around my calf muscles. I could actually feel the implants in my legs. It was a strange feeling but it was not terrible. The biggest pain for me at this point in my recovery, was not being able to walk to bathroom or kitchen. Luckily for me, my dad and brother were able to help me with this. On the bright side, my calves definitely looked bigger, even though the still had the compression garment wrapped around them.
A week in to my recovery I was feeling much better. I was able to slowly walk around with the assistance of crutches. The swelling in my calves had continued to diminish and they were really starting to take shape. I liked what I was seeing. I still had some pain, but didn't need pain killers at this point. My lower extremities still felt a bit off from the added weight of the implants but I was beginning to get used to it.
I've returned to most of my normal activities and I'm able to walk around mostly unaided now. Every once in a while I step a certain way and feel a bit of pain from where the implant are. Other than that, I don't have any constant pain and almost all of my swelling has gone away. I no longer need my crutches.
I've returned to all of my normal activities and started going to the gym a few weeks ago. I no longer feel any pain at all and the heaviness I had has mostly dissipated. All of my swelling appears to be gone and my calves look great. I'm very happy. I have not had any side-effects from surgery and my recovery has gone extremely well.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend getting calf implant surgery if you dislike the shape and/or size of your calves. There's no need to live your life worried about a defect that can easily be fixed through plastic surgery. Having said this, please be sure to do your research and find a great doctor. Although plastic surgery is elective, it's still surgery and comes with all of the risks associated with it! There are stories online of people who have nerve damage, issues walking after surgery, etc., so please, and I can't stress this enough, do a lot of research! You must make sure you absolutely want to have this procedure and you're not doing it for anyone else. Good luck and if you have any questions, feel free to post them below.