Are you unhappy with the size of your calves? The calf muscle can be quite visible, so if it's overly bulky or out of proportion with the rest of your legs, it can affect your appearance and confidence.
Fortunately, calf reduction surgery is available to help address this issue. These procedures can help both men and women achieve more proportionate leg muscles, resulting in a more harmonious and balanced overall appearance.
In this article, we'll explore the benefits and considerations of calf reduction surgery, and what you can expect from the process.
The content has been reviewed for quality and accuracy to the best of our knowledge by Qunomedical and its Medical Board of Experts.
WHO IS THIS FOR
Individuals with overly bulging calf muscles and who wish to enhance the appearance of their legs.
People who enjoy good overall health and are able to handle both surgery and an extended healing period.
POTENTIAL RISKS & SIDE EFFECTS
Difficulties when walking in the first few weeks after the procedure.
Permanent nerve damage and reduced mobility (very rare).
Bleeding and swelling.
For non-invasive methods like botox or radiofrequency ablation, recovery is immediate, but the effects may take a few weeks to show.
In cases where surgery is used, recovery will take a period of days (with a neurectomy) or weeks (with a resection).
With calf liposuction, patients can leave the clinic immediately, but practitioners suggest a recovery period of up to six months.
If botox injections are used, a series of two to three appointments will be necessary. The reduction is then noticeable within two months.
If radiofrequency ablation is used, a series of appointments will be required, but the effects are immediate.
If a neurectomy is used, a one-to-two hour surgical procedure is required, followed by a short period of recovery.
If a partial resection is used, a one-to-two hour operation is followed by a recovery period of three to four weeks.
With calf liposuction, the procedure can be carried out within a single appointment.
What Is Calf Reduction?
Calf reduction surgery is a cosmetic procedure which reduces the size of a patient's calf muscle by removing fat or muscle tissue from the area, reshaping the lower leg into a more aesthetically pleasing form.
How Does Calf Reduction Work?
Reductions come in a variety of forms, all of which seek to remove tissue from the lower legs, either temporarily or permanently. However, not all of them are surgical.
Calf Reduction with Botox
If patients choose a non-surgical method like botox, the process begins with an initial appointment where the patient discusses their options with a cosmetic surgeon. This is followed by a series of sessions in which botox is administered to the calf area.
Although more commonly associated with facial cosmetic procedures, botox acts on any muscles in the human body, blocking the nerves that serve them and causing them to relax. In the case of calves, this causes the gastrocnemius muscle (the muscle located on the back portion of the lower leg) to relax and atrophy, slowly degrading the tissue until it reaches the desired size.
Botox is regarded as the best technique for removing muscle mass. But undergoing a calf reduction with botox involves a long process with multiple sessions. In most cases, having just one session of botox will not give you a sufficient reduction in size.
Radiofrequency (RF) Ablation
Radiofrequency ablation is another non-surgical option. Older ablation techniques involved making a series of tiny incisions before placing a device under the skin to 'burn' away undesired tissue. More up-to-date methods require no incisions and use external devices to target specific nerves which supply the calf muscles. They then burn these nerves, reducing their activity and encouraging the atrophy process.
Calf Reduction Surgery
Besides non-surgical shape and size altering procedures, there are also some surgical procedures available. These often last longer than non-surgical procedures.
If patients choose surgical options, the reduction process will be different, although, again, it starts with a consultation with your cosmetic surgeon, where every option will be considered. After that, a hospital or clinic appointment will be booked for the neurectomy operation.
This minimally invasive calf reduction surgery only involves a local anaesthetic. Surgeons make a small lateral incision behind the knee, before cutting the nerves which supply the muscles to be reduced. Patients can return home after almost immediately. As with botox, neurectomies take time to show results, although unlike botox, the results are much more permanent.
A partial resection is a more invasive form of calf reduction surgery. In this procedure, surgeons physically remove tissue from the gastrocnemius muscle until the calf has been resculpted into the desired shape. As with a neurectomy, the muscle is accessed via a lateral incision behind the knee. Unlike with neurectomies, a hospital stay of one to two days may be needed, and dressings or drain tubes may be required.
It's important to note that this surgical procedure will only be used in cases where it's medically necessary, due to the fact that the treatment can significantly impact mobility. It's not recommended for those looking to undergo a calf reduction for cosmetic purposes.
Calf liposuction is also classed as calf reduction surgery, but it differs from the other methods as it targets fat deposits in the lower leg. It is a suitable procedure for those with excess fat around their calf muscles, allowing them to improve muscle definition, but it won't reduce the muscle mass into a pleasing form. In some cases, patients use both calf reduction and liposuction to achieve the results they desire.
What should I Expect from Calf Reduction Surgery?
Calf reduction surgery tends to be a stress-free, simple cosmetic procedure and often won't even require a hospital stay. So patients can expect a smooth transition from the initial appointment to the treatment, recovery and the conclusive parts of the process. However, there will be pain and discomfort at some stages. This could be around the incision point if a surgical method is employed. Or, it could be following botox sessions, as the nerves react to the botox. Swelling around the ankle is common in cases where muscle or fat has been physically removed.
Lifestyle adjustments may be needed during the process. For instance, exercise should be avoided in the period immediately following any form of reduction, and mobility may be impaired by numbness in the lower leg. Compression socks may be needed, and patients will be advised to keep their legs elevated to promote healing. Physiotherapists may also be brought in to advise on therapeutic stretches. Finally, a scar is common where incisions are made and should fade within three months.