Botulinum toxin, also known as Botox, is a neurotoxic protein that temporarily paralyses muscles when injected.
Therefore, practitioners injecting the calf muscles have to be sure to inject enough to slim the muscle, but not so much that the muscle is completely paralysed and the patient unable to use the muscle to walk. “With right amount of Botox, you will get less activity with the muscle,” explains Dr Turner. “If a muscle is working less it will become thinner – think of it as the opposite effect of what happens when you work out a muscle group a lot and gain bulk.”
Botox is one of the most popular non-surgical tweakments available and for good reason. It smoothes out fine lines and wrinkles, it can lift and define, it can stop excessive sweating and it can even cure migraines and stop teeth grinding. But now it seems people are asking for the injectable treatment in their calves in a seemingly bizarre new cosmetic trend.
“Up until now, treatment of the calves muscles with Botox has been more common amongst the Asian patient group,” says Dr Aoife Turner, aesthetic plastic surgeon. “But like all plastic surgery and non-surgical treatments, it becomes more widespread as time goes on as people begin to become aware of it.”
As to why people are requesting it, GP and cosmetic doctor Dr Jane Leonard explains that it’s all to do with achieving a more streamlined calf muscle in order to better fit into knee-high boots (yes, really). “The treatment is being used to slim down the gastronemeous muscle at the back of the leg. Botox relaxes this muscle and in turn shrinks it as it is no longer being used as much.”
According to Dr Turner, you would need about 50-100 units per leg to create this effect. “To put this into context, a normal treatment to reduce wrinkles will require around 50 units.”
While experts assure the procedure is safe if done correctly and if it is administered by an experienced and licensed doctor, it carries the risk of affecting mobility if done incorrectly. Yikes.