I’m Average Height – Is It Okay To Consider Limb Lengthening?

Written by Joshua Leaf | Updated on October 18, 2021

Since most surgeons do not have height requirements, it’s common for potential lengthening patients to question what others might think if they undergo height-increasing surgery, even more so when they’re already average or above average in height.

No matter the height, one should consider that height dissatisfaction doesn’t have to be associated with statistical data pertaining to height since this uneasiness lies in the individuals’ own perception.

Someone can be 5’5 or 6’2 and still face psychological turmoil about their height. Therefore, stigma and starting height or being too tall shouldn’t dissuade someone from undergoing limb lengthening surgery if it truly bothers them, and other options have been explored.

Do I Need Stature Increment, Or Do I Just Want It?

Everyone has a different perception and reality in regards to their height dysphoria, and everyone’s reason to consider this surgery is unique and has to be considered.

It’s the classic “need vs want” argument.

If the thought of being too tall for limb lengthening surgery crosses someone’s mind, they should research and analyze the procedure’s long-term impact on their social, economic, psychological and physical well-being.

Am I Too Tall For Height Surgery?

Again, there is no physical minimum height requirement for limb lengthening surgery, so the question remains, is it normal for someone of average height to want limb lengthening surgery?

The answer to this question varies according to the perception of the person who is asked. For some people, height is an actual issue that negatively impacts their self-confidence and bothers them constantly and consistently. They face heightism and generally a form of social oppression that leaves them dissatisfied with their body image and feeling that a couple of inches would help them improve their condition and circumstances.

Psychological Evaluation And Counselling

The question remains, would someone be satisfied with just a few inches added to their height? In most cases, it is highly likely that an increase in a person’s height would, to some extent, improve their height dysphoria.

On the other hand, on some occasions, some patients may need to be psychologically evaluated to remove the possibility of a more severe body dysphoria disorder, which even after a height surgery, may not satisfy their desire to be taller‎.

At the end of the day, while considering height surgery, one must ask whether it is worth it or not. Would a person be willing to invest their time, money, and efforts to increase their height? Again, the answer varies from person to person. Psychological help, alone, for some people, may lessen the burden of their height dysphoria, and they might not feel the need for the procedure after going through it.

Weighing Risks Vs Rewards

All decisions require a cost-benefit analysis. While limb lengthening surgery is a relatively safe procedure, it does have some risks, and it is the job of the concerned to determine whether they are worth taking.

Recovery And Physical Restraints

Before delving into the possible harms the procedure can cost in the long term, we must discuss the recovery time and the physical restraints that come along with it.

The leg-lengthening procedure can be sperated into four phases:

  1. Surgery: Hospitalization after the surgery may last a few days. After this, support will be required for at least two to three weeks. A walker will be needed until the patient can bear their weight again.
  2. Lengthening: This is the most painful and discomforting part of the process. The lengthening period depends on the desired increment in length, and it typically ranges from 3 to 4 months.
  3. Consolidation: Regenerating the bone and muscle in the gaps created during lengthening takes about 2 to 6 months.
  4. Rod Removal: After rod removal, walking normally and freely may take up to 8 weeks. Enjoying athletic activities again will take some more time, varying from person to person.

Important factors some people may want to consider during the recovery phases include;

  • Muscle stiffness
  • Highly restricted locomotive movements
  • Regular doctors’ appointments

While recovery after rod removal is not a significant risk, it is an important factor to consider since activities will be limited for 6-8 weeks.

Risk Factor

Some serious risks that come along with limb lengthening surgery are inclusive of, but not limited to:

  • Fat embolisms
  • Pulmonary embolisms
  • Nerve damage

While the success rates of the procedure are in the mid 90%, they are still worth considering.

Patients may also experience some temporary conditions, including:

  • Pain and stiffness in muscles
  • Loss of sleep
  • Mental fog

Here, an important question arises: are a couple of inches worth it? Even minor risks such as the depreciation of athletic ability or stiffness may impact some individuals more than others. Again, this is a cost-benefit analysis that must be done personally, as the answer to these questions varies from person to person and depends mainly on why they wish to have the surgery.

Analyzing The Cost-To-Benefit Ratio

The reasons to go through with limb lengthening surgery are different for everyone. For some, it may provide a much-needed boost in self-confidence. An increase in height may give them an improved self-image and make them feel better about themselves internally. Another reason may be a desire to improve their image in front of others.

If someone feels that their height stops them from advancing professionally, making social connections, or getting involved romantically, they may consider such a procedure. Just remember, gaining height doesn’t always change other people’s perceptions of them since the past experiences leave lasting impressions.

However, new people may have some positive biases about you due to being tall.

Gaining a few inches in height may be necessary for some people, but the loss of one’s natural physicality and a sudden change in appearance may even come as a shock to those around you; at least at first. Height does not instantaneously attract opportunities or partners, so it’s essential only to have surgery for the right reasons.

The choice to go through with limb lengthening surgery depends on whether a person feels that it is imperative to improve their situation and if they are willing to take the risks that come along with it.

Is Limb Lengthening Worth It For Someone Of Average Height

Limb lengthening is entirely a personal choice that depends on a person’s mentality and reality. There is no such thing as being too tall for limb lengthening; people of average height get the surgery as well. No one has the same exact reasons, experiences or considerations when considering height surgery.

Again, height-increasing surgery improves the condition of height dysphoria in many patients but has little effect on those who have extreme cases of body dysphoria because they would not be satisfied despite massive physical changes.

If someone’s height is bothersome, it’s suggested to speak to a doctor or mental health expert to contemplate potential treatments.

References

[1]    Lee, R. C., Aulisio, M., & Liu, R. W. (2020). Exploring the Ethics of Stature Lengthening as Treatment for Height Dysphoria. Strategies in Trauma and Limb Reconstruction, 15(3), 163.

[2]    Cinnirella, F., & Winter, J. K. (2009). Size matters! Body height and labor market discrimination: A cross-European analysis.

[3]    Yancey, G., & Emerson, M. O. (2016). Does height matter? An examination of height preferences in romantic coupling. Journal of Family Issues, 37(1), 53-73.

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