Minimum & Maximum Age Limits for Limb Lengthening Surgery

Written by Joshua Leaf | Updated on November 19, 2021

Many lengthening candidates wonder if they’re too old or too young for cosmetic limb lengthening and while age is just a number, the older someone is, the slower their bones will heal. 

There’s surely a minimum age when it comes to cosmetic lengthening for biological and ethical reasons, but luckily there’s not a true maximum age since some doctors will perform the surgery on patients over 50. 

Obviously each doctor’s protocol may vary so keep reading to find out why some doctors limit the age of lengthening to 50 years old, why there’s an age minimum, and some practical tips to ensure a successful recovery. 

Minimum Age Requirement For Height Increasing Surgery

The minimum age limit largely depends on the reason the surgery is performed. In most cases, surgeries performed to correct congenital deformities are done as early as possible, usually still on young children and infants. This is to ensure that their growth remains normal throughout childhood and takes advantage of their extremely fast regeneration time of bone and tissue. However, this is not the case with cosmetic limb lengthening. 

If performed for purely cosmetic reasons, the minimum age is dependent on the time when the bone growth plates of the patient close. This usually ranges from just after the end of puberty to young adulthood (18-25 years old)

The main reason for a different minimum age limit is the fact that patients whose bone growth plates are still open may find that they will naturally grow to a height that they are happy with. If surgery is still desired, different methods of leg lengthening are used, depending on whether the individual is still growing or not. It’s worth noting that methods such as Lengthening Over Nail (LON) or the PRECISE/STRYDE nail, which are used on fully grown patients, are often more convenient and feature relatively faster recovery times than methods used on patients who are still growing.

Maximum Age Limit for Limb Lengthening

What then is the maximum limb lengthening age limit? Many might be glad to know that height increasing surgery has been performed on people of all ages, including the elderly, with good results! When considering the maximum age for such a surgery, the main thing to take into account is individual health.

Although stature lengthening can be performed at any time during one’s lifetime, each surgeon should evaluate their patient in terms of bone density, bone quality and bone mineral density. It must be ensured that the patient’s limb bones are strong enough to rebuild and rejoin after the surgery, no matter the age of the patient. 

Additionally, surgeons will assess general physical strength, frailty and underlying health conditions which may have an impact on the potential recovery time. Due to this reason, some plastic surgeons might recommend that height surgery be performed before the age of 50 as bone strength and quality may start decreasing after that age. 

Still, it’s worth noting that even patients whose bone quality is lower than average may still be able to have their limbs lightened. Their physical limitations may be offset by a specially planned diet, which may stimulate bone growth, as well as physiotherapy. 

How Do I Ensure A Successful Limb Lengthening Surgery?

Regardless of age, choosing a great surgeon is step one to a successful surgery. Individual age is only one factor in the grand scheme of things and  is not the defining factor for success. 

Since every patient is different, a qualified surgeon will be able to make sure that each surgery is performed using the method most suitable for the individual. A correct procedure choice has a great impact on recovery time and results. Additionally, plastic surgeons will recommend suitable exercises, which will help stimulate bone and tissue recovery, and are considered the key to ensuring that the surgery is successful. 

Because of that, during this stage of the recovery, patients will usually be monitored closely by a physiotherapist.

As mentioned before, the surgeon may also write up a diet or supplement regimen that should be strictly followed. Proper nutrition will promote bone growth by providing the patient with the right amounts of vitamins and minerals. 

Physical Therapy – A Key Factor to Success!

The key takeaway for anyone considering cosmetic limb lengthening surgery is not to worry too much about whether their age is a limit – as long as their bones are of good health and fully grown. Besides choosing a quality surgeon, physical therapy is the second most important factor of a successful surgery

No matter the age, good communication between the patient and the surgeon is extremely important. A good surgeon will evaluate their patient’s health and condition, going far beyond their age, making sure that everything from the actual procedure to post-op care is custom-tailored to the patient’s needs. This, not patient age, is the key to success!

Resources

https://www.hss.edu/conditions_limb-lengthening-overview.asp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birth_defect

https://www.nuvasive.com/procedures/limb-lengthening/precice-system/

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