If you’re like me, you’re probably skeptical of most things that sound too good to be true. A surgery that can make you tall enough to dunk? That’s science fiction, right?
When I first heard about this height-boosting procedure that’s exactly what I thought. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
After a little research I found that “limb-lengthening” surgery has been around over a century. Back then, being taller meant risking life and limb literally—and with no anesthesia!
Today, of course, the operations are performed very differently from 100 years ago, but the idea is the same—make the legs longer.
Though the surgery was initially developed to fix medical conditions like dwarfism and limb length discrepancies, it has become a sought-after cosmetic procedure for men with a desire to be taller.
The procedure works by adding inserts called “fixators” into the femurs and/or tibias, which slowly pull apart and over time and force the bones to lengthen.
When the bone grows, the surrounding blood vessels, muscles and nerves must also grow. The trick is to do it slowly.
The stretching of the bones is the first part of the process. The healing phase which allows the bones to obtain the necessary density follows. Total time to completion is roughly split evenly between the two phases.
After surgery, patients are given a device which triggers the fixators to increase their height by 1 mm per day. At this rate you’d grow a little over an inch per month—a rate on par with a hormonal teenage growth spurt.
This procedure is life changing for many, with the potential of adding an impressive 6 inches in total height—not bad at all if your goal is to be over 6 feet.
So what are the downsides to having a surgical growth spurt? For one, it’s prohibitively expensive.
Limb lengthening will run you a tab of over $75,000, which your insurance will not cover because it’s considered a cosmetic surgery.
Beyond that, there is recovery time and rehab to consider. You need to be OK with being on crutches for about five months for a 3-inch lengthening—recovery time increases with lengthening.
You also need to do physical therapy at least five days per week to ensure that the bones heal properly.
Lastly, there are potential complications that occur in about 4 percent of patients which can require additional surgeries to fix. The most severe complications can lead to permanent disability.
The complications become higher risk the more you lengthen. Any bone length increased by over 8 cm (about 3 inches) is considered high risk.
If your goal is a 5-inch increase, it would be safer to lengthen the tibia by 2 inches and the femur by 3 inches—not to mention you proportions are going to be better.
The downside to lengthening both the tibia and femur means two surgeries and nearly double the cost. That’s $150,000!
Cost is often a deciding factor when considering any purchase so expensive. However, Dr. Dror Paley of the Paley Institute warns not to skimp when it comes to limb lengthening surgery.
With over 20,000 limb lengthening surgeries under his belt, Dr. Paley is the most experienced limb lengthening surgeon in the world.
Not only that, he has performed surgeries to correct complications from limb lengthening surgeries done overseas – where patients often go to save money.
Surgery in general is not a good place to try and save money. If you’re going to have this procedure done, hire an organization that uses the newest and safest technology with experienced doctors and an outstanding reputation.
While limb lengthening surgery is not commonplace yet, Dr. Kevin Debiparshad believes that soon the procedure will be as mainstream as breast augmentations and botox.