Healing from limb lengthening surgery can be a long and arduous process. Even a moderate height gain of 4 cm can take 4-8 months to heal, leading many patients to wonder if there are any supplements to speed up recovery after height surgery.
Though there are no miracle cures, a healthy diet and doctor-recommended supplements can aid in bone healing or consolidation. Let’s discuss some of these supplements and dietary factors.
How Does Recovery Work?
Depending on which option is chosen, the surgeon breaks the femur, tibia or both bones into two where these two segments are then gradually pulled apart (distraction). After which, they’re allowed to heal and come together again with new bone formation (osteogenesis).
The bloodstream brings a cascade of cells that divide into bone-building (osteoblasts) and cartilage-building (chondroblasts) cells in recovery. The osteoblasts and chondroblasts form the bone matrix, which constructs the chief mass of the bone and primarily consists of collagen and bone salts like hydroxyapatite.
These cells produce proteins that come together to form soft new bone (soft callus), which eventually hardens over 6-12 weeks. Finally, the woven bone becomes a stronger bone (hard callus), and the healing process is complete.
Dror Paley’s Supplement Recommendations
Dr. Dror Paley is a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon who heads the Paley Orthopedic and Spine Institute. He helped develop both the Precice and Precice STRYDE lengthening technologies and boasts more than 20,000 height increasing surgeries.
First off, Dr. Paley recommends eating a healthy and varied diet. He also recommends the following supplements to his patients on a mandatory or need-be basis, especially during the healing or consolidation phase.
1. Bone Health Now
The best treatment for nonunions (when the two ends of the bone fail to join) or delayed bone growth is prevention. Dr. Paley recommends patients take supplements like Boost from the company Bone Health Now.
Bone Health Now supplements are formulated by doctors at the Institute for Better Bone Health. Their supplements can be bought online and shipped to the customer in about 3-5 working days.
Silical System Plus and Boost are a series of supplements from Bone Health Now. They’re reportedly made from 100% natural ingredients and reportedly show effects in 3-4 weeks of regular ingestion.
These supplements provide silicon, boron, calcium, zinc, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin D.
The Silical System Plus, which includes Silical 1 and 2, should be taken before surgery, while patients should take Boost 3-7 days after surgery. Of course, check with your doctor before deciding when to take this supplement.
3. Zoledronic Acid Infusion
Zoledronic acid slows bone breakdown and increases bone density. It treats osteoporosis (brittle bones) and decreases the amount of calcium that the bones release into the bloodstream.
This acid can be administered directly into the veins. Studies have shown that it’s effective in preventing vertebral (spinal) fractures, which indicates it positively affects bone strength.
4. Parathyroid Hormone (Forteo)
The Forteo injection treats osteoporosis, and its composition is very similar to the parathyroid hormone naturally produced by the thyroid glands.
The parathyroid hormone works by increasing spinal bone density, thus making vertebral fractures less likely. Though its effect on other bones is less clear, patients can safely assume that it positively affects the bones.
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a critical component of good bone health. This vitamin regulates calcium absorption, and bones mainly consist of calcium and phosphorus, forming calcium hydroxyapatite crystals.
A vitamin D deficiency can reduce calcium levels, while administration of this vitamin speeds up initial bone formation. Along with Vitamin K, this vitamin also transforms stem cells at the fracture site into bone-building cells or osteoblasts.
While getting out in the sun may provide enough vitamin D for a healthy person, it’s not uncommon for patients to need supplements to recover from limb lengthening as they have to heal multiple bone breaks.
6. EXOGEN Bone Stimulator
The EXOGEN system sends out low-intensity ultrasound waves, which stimulate the discarding of old bone and promote new bone formation by accelerating the production of the mineral matrix.
In a study of 101 patients with delayed healing in tibia fractures, treatment with EXOGEN showed improved bone density and reduced bone gap area than the non-EXOGEN group.
Additional Supplements for Quick Consolidation
Apart from these supplements, various compounds accelerate bone growth and recovery. Patients can obtain these through either a healthy diet or supplementation.
Apart from Vitamin D, multiple vitamins play a role in good bone health:
7. Vitamin C – In a study on rats, vitamin C-supplemented rats covered all healing steps faster than non-supplemented ones. It also decreases inflammation. Lemons, oranges, bell peppers, broccoli, kiwis, and asparagus are rich in vitamin C.
8. Vitamin K – This vitamin reduces calcium loss through urine and is necessary for bone protein formation.
9. Vitamin E – This vitamin acts as an antioxidant. Damaged tissues produce a mass of free oxygen radicals which cause inflammation and the break down of collagen. Vitamin E counters these free radicals and preserves bone density.
10. Vitamin B6 – Vitamin B6 deficiency increases the incidence of fractures and reduces the healing rate in animals.
70% of the structure of bones is composed of minerals, making them an integral part of your post-surgery diet.
11. Calcium – As one of the primary skeletal components, calcium is necessary for bone healing. It forms calcium hydroxyapatite crystals which lend elasticity and strength to the bone. Calcium-rich foods include leafy green vegetables, yogurt, sardines, and milk.
12. Phosphorus – Phosphorus is the other component of calcium hydroxyapatite crystals.
13. Magnesium – Calcium metabolism closely relates to magnesium metabolism. Magnesium-rich foods like flaxseeds, chia seeds, Swiss chard, almonds, and avocados are necessary to get the full benefits of calcium.
14. Zinc – Zinc administration boosts the progress of callus formation and bone protein production. Grass-fed beef, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are rich in zinc.
15. Copper – Copper promotes bone collagen formation, which is necessary for creating the bone matrix.
16. Silicon – Silicon enhances collagen synthesis, increases bone volume, and aids the effects of calcium.
17. Boron – Boron boosts the effects of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium in synergy with vitamin D.
Molecules known as amino acids form proteins which are essential for healing. They can enhance insulin production and insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which significantly impact bone growth and bone health during puberty and throughout life. These amino acids include:
20. Glutamic Acid
Arginine and another amino acid called lysine promote bone healing by boosting local blood supply and stimulating collagen synthesis.
A few miscellaneous supplements that may also help in bone consolidation include:
24. Multivitamins – Contain essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
25. Alpha-lipoic acid – Prevents bone loss by inhibiting oxygen species that react with bone-dissolving cells.
26. Bone Strength from NOW Foods – Contains microcrystalline hydroxyapatite (MCHA) that forms part of the bone matrix.
27. Super Omega 3-6-9 – Contains fish oil which provides inflammation-inhibiting omega-3 fatty acids.
28. Bromelain – A group of enzymes present in pineapple juice and stem, it has anti-inflammatory properties.
29. Solcoseryl – Increases the rate of new bone formation in rabbits along with DM Bone, a silicon ion.
30. Colostrum – Increased bone growth and femur mineralization in rats and considered a safe supplement for humans with lactose intolerance.
Supplementation and Recovery
Supplementing everything listed here might be overkill, but it’s always best to consult with your doctor to ask questions before taking any supplements. No matter what though, you definitely want to eat a varying diet with adequate protein and calories. A single bone break may require an extra 2,000 calories to heal, and protein is the building block of bones besides increasing IGF-1.
Nutrition, supplements and dieting are crucial to a quick recovery, but don’t let other things such as physical therapy fall waste side since recovery needs a multifaceted approach.
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