Body Implant Surgery
Barry L. Eppley, MD, DMD has the most extensive body implant experience of any plastic surgeon in creating increased muscular volume from the chest down to the calves.
BODY IMPLANTS ARE MUSCLE ENHANCERS
Increasing the size of certain body muscle, or muscular enhancement, is the objective of most body implants. Other than breast implants (which is not a muscular enhancer), the most commonly recognized body implants include pectoral, buttock and calf implants. While once viewed as unusual or rare procedures, body implant surgery today is fairly common as implant materials and surgical techniques have improved. This has also lead to new innovative implants and areas for augmentation such as arm (biceps and triceps), deltoid and hip implants. While fat injection augmentation has a valuable role in the enhancement of certain body areas, synthetic implants offer a permanent and assured solution to body augmentation that has the trade-off of an implanted synthetic material and a longer recovery.
Muscle implants are used to surgically build-out or augment an underdeveloped or deficient area of muscle in the body. These muscle ‘weaknesses’ can be caused by a congenital defect, a traumatic injury, or more commonly, an aesthetic desire for improvement in one’s self-esteem. Aesthetic desires for body implants come from an inability to build up the muscle adequately through exercise, and/or a disproportion to the rest of the body. There are also recent fashion and cultural influences that have increased the desires for larger chests and buttocks. Congenital defects that lead some patients to receive body implants can include club foot, chest wall deformities from Pectus and Poland’s syndrome (pectoral implants) and Sprengel’s deformity (deltoid implants).
Body implants, unlike breast implants, are composed of a solid but very soft silicone elastomer material. Since they are not fluid or gel-filled, there is no chance that they will ever rupture, degrade or need to replaced due to a material-related problem. Body implants surgery is perfectly safe, but requires a surgeon skilled in using these materials who has the knowledge and experience to operate in a variety of anatomical locations throughout the body.
Offering a permanent solution to aesthetic buttock augmentation, implants can be placed either into (intramuscular) or on top of the gluteus maximus muscle. It is preferred to reduce the risk of potential complications to go inside the muscle as opposed to on top of it, but such placement poses size limitations and a longer recovery. The advantages and disadvantages of either will be discussed by Dr. Eppley in detail. Buttock implants are available in either round or oval shape in a large variety of volume (cc) sizes.
Male chest enhancement by implants is done to increase the size and muscular definition of the pectoralis major muscles. In some cases they are used to improve a congenital chest deformity which is too flat compared to the surrounding rib cage. Always placed under the muscle, they are available in oval and more square shapes depending on one’s natural chest anatomy and the type of chest muscle shape the patient desires.
Creating fullness in the lower leg can help both men and women who have very skinny legs or ‘chicken legs’ due to natural underdevelopment and an inability to increase calf size by exercise. There are also some people born with clubfoot who have disproportionate calves. Calf implants, the smallest of all body implants, have a cigar-type shape that are available in different lengths, widths and thickness. Calf implants may be used to build up the inside of the leg (medial head gastrocnemius muscle) or combined with outside of the calf (lateral head gastrocnemius muscle) as well.
The top (biceps) and bottom (triceps) of the arm can be built up for those men who either can’t get enough muscle bulk by exercise alone, or want to maintain a more muscular arm shape with less long-term exercise maintenance.
Loss of the deltoid muscle group may have occurred from injury or a congenital Sprengel’s deformity (scapular hypoplasia). As there are no true deltoid implants made specifically for this area, this requires modifying existing body implants used for other areas, or hand-making the implants from pre-formed silicone blocks.
For those women with perfectly straight hips (‘boy hips’), creating more of an hourglass figure cannot be done with any form of exercise. Implants placed below the prominence of the greater trochanter of the hip joint can build out an otherwise straight leg line.
The one type of male body implant that is not a muscle enhancer is that of scrotal augmentation by the insertion of a testicle implant. Some men have only one testicles due to lack of descension of a testes during development or loss of one due to removal from surgery. A testicle implant can be used for replacement that is composed of a soft solid gel elastomer that will never degrade or need to be replaced.
Body Implants – Before Surgery
An examination and measurements are taken of the body area to be augmented. It is important to match the area of implantation with the size of the implants to avoid an augmentation that is aesthetically too small or one in which deformity occurs afterward because it is too big for the pocket. Patients need to be aware of the risk and complications which include scarring, infection, implant asymmetry and displacement, aesthetic dissatisfaction and the risk of the need for revisional surgery. Collectively, body implants have an average revision/complication risk of 10% to 15%.
Body Implants – Operation
All body implants require incisions to be placed and these must be carefully considered in the aesthetics of the procedure. Body implants always perform best (better vascularized tissue cover) when placed into or under muscle but that is only possible for pectoral and buttock implants. All other body implants are placed in the subfascial location. (above the muscle) All body implants are done under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure.
Cosmetic Procedures – Body Implants – After Surgery
Dissolvable sutures are used for all body implant incisions. The augmented area(s) will have a garment/compression wrap on it to help control swelling and make moving around more comfortable. It will usually take 2 to 3 weeks after surgery until one feels comfortable doing all normal activities of daily. Exercise of any significance (running, lifting weights, Pilates, etc.) should not be done until about 3 week after surgery and may be longer for some types of body implants.