Stature Lengthening – Get Taller with Leg Lengthening Surgery

Written by Joshua Leaf | Updated on September 30, 2021

Stature lengthening, also known as leg lengthening, is a cosmetic procedure that helps people increase their height by lengthening the leg bones. The procedure is increasing in popularity due to the feeling of inadequacy from height dysphoria, which is becoming a major hurdle for the mental health of many [1]. The reason is partly from a skewed perception of personal height or short stature, and taller individuals statistically having advantages to them in both the workplace [2] and in social circles [3].

Who Can Get Taller with Stature Lengthening?

The remarkable success of height increasing surgeries is not due to coincidence but rather the evaluation of the surgeon and, more importantly, the eligibility of the patient [4] [5]. Generally, the patient must be a healthy, non-smoker who has reached skeletal maturity (<25 years) but height requirements aren’t specified [5]. Additionally, the patient must be adequately psychologically motivated [5]. The finances of the surgery, post-op recovery and additional costs must also be ensured to minimize complications. As the post-op recovery period is often more important than the surgery itself, proper financing is usually certified by the surgeons team.

How Does Stature Lengthening Work?

The skepticism surrounding cosmetic limb lengthening owes itself to the fact that it’s still being viewed with fear. This procedure is comprehensive, offering minimal room for error. Candidates must work their way through three distinct stages of the procedure: Preparation, Surgery, Recovery.

Preparation

To get ready for the surgery, stretching of the legs and hips are advised. In addition, the patient must decide which fixation device they they prefer or can afford.

The internal method is the most efficient and safest method of lengthening. An nail is inserted into the femur, which can then be extended remotely. This procedure entails insertion of a ‘PRECICE’ or ‘STRYDE nail [7].

The external sphere is the oldest and most archaic sector of bone extensions. In fact, these practices may even disappear from the cosmetic lengthening realm sooner than we realize. Here, a titanium-alloy mechanism or circular fixation device is attached by pins to the patient’s legs thus allowing them to customize their lengthening.

Surgery

In simplest terms, the patient’s femurs, tibias, or both will be ‘broken’ in half. From there, the surgeon will carefully stabilize the bones with an internal nail or external fixator.

The exact surgery process varies with different devices, methods, and even surgeons. The post-op recovery and subsequent lengthening begins a week or so after the completion of the surgery [7]

Recovery

The crucial recovery stage is rife with extensive physical therapy and side effects. All of which are signs of a successful surgery and consolidating bones. During this stage, the bones undergo two distinct phases or processes.

Distraction

This phase is the actual bone lengthening phase. In and out-patient physical therapy is essential during this period. As the recovering bones generally grow about a millimeter per day [7], compliance with prescribed therapy is indispensable for a successful outcome [7]. The lengthening stage may not be considered complete until the desired length is achieved.

Consolidation

The bone is extended to its maximum extent and the consolidation of the newly formed bones with the larger skeletal network begins. Recovery from the limb lengthening procedure varies among patients, with the consolidation phase sometimes lasting longer [7]. While the physical therapy regime is continued and modified accordingly, the worst can be considered past as the recovering bones are regularly examined [7].

How Much Does Stature Lengthening Cost?

The biggest obstacle one faces when considering lengthening surgeries are expenses. Unsurprisingly, cosmetic surgeries are very expensive and physically-taxing, for both the surgeon and the patient [8]. The bone fixators, hour-long surgeries and lengthy post-op regime, all of which stands up to cost a hefty amount for anyone. When faced with such a steep wall uncovered by insurance [9], many resort to cheaper options. The choice for cheaper alternatives seems alien but it’s very prevalent in countries like Russia, Turkey or India.

In India, the costs of an all-encompassing limb lengthening surgery ranges from $2,000-$19,000 [10] [11] for one of the most common limb surgeons there, Dr. Parihar [11]. Again, in Russia, the birthplace of limb lengthening, the expenses take a massive downgrade when compared to other countries. With Dr. Solomon and Kukesh’s clinic providing external fixators for $15,000 or more [11]. In Turkey, a proper middle ground is found with even the PRECICE option being $37,000 [12].

On the other end of the spectrum, Dr. Paley in West Palm Beach Florida provides high-end service with cutting-edge technology. The costs of such height enhancement surgeries on Paley’s institute range from $97,500 to $280,000 [9] depending on complexity. There’s also Dr. Robert Rozburch who is a prominent limb lengthening surgeon where the costs and efficiency of his services are like Paley’s, ranging from $100,000 to higher [5].

While these surgeries may seem to offer a lot of options cost-wise, it’s imperative to note that the expensiveness is generally an indicator of quality. The usage of outdated techniques [13] and the incompetence of inexperienced surgeons [8] have not only botched surgeries and endangered lives but put a negative stain on the perception of limb lengthening. More expensive options increase the chances of getting an experienced surgeons [8], state-of-the-art facilities [14] and safety.

Limb Lengthening: Recovery Time & Long-Term Effects

Arguably, the most critical stage of the limb lengthening process is the post-surgery recovery period. The measures taken by the patients during this stage can decide their overall results. Unlike other medical procedures, the recovery period varies greatly depending on its modifications. Generally, a tibia-femur extension (the most popular choice) needs around 36 days of healing per centimeter of lengthening [16]. This gradual lengthening process is further impacted by the patient’s choices preceding it.

The usage of internal fixators (PRECICE or STRYDE) streamlines the process as no external mechanisms bar the bone extensions [5]. The age of the patient also effects recovery times. [5]. Most importantly, the patient’s adherence to their assigned physical therapy regime, including both in and out-patient therapy has shown to greatly influence the resulting lengthening [17], recovery of mobility [18] and reduction of side effects [19]. The modern PRECICE nail even slashes the recovery time down to an average of 5 weeks and ensures a safe and smoother experience [20]. Furthermore, the upgraded STRYDE nail boasts a negligible difference in recovery time since it’s load bearing [21].

Regarding the ever-looming prospect of side-effects, any experienced surgeon can stifle the chances of any significant ones, but minor stiffness (from the resulting lengthening) can continue, albeit subtly [22]. Fortunately, strict adherence to an optimized physical therapy regime can easily mitigate its effects [23].

Life After Height Surgery

Despite exaggerations of the failures of bone extension surgeries, the truth is far from that. Having a 95% success rate comes with a slew of assurances and research-based outcomes [5], the success stories of people pursuing limb lengthening and ultimately being rejuvenated from their experiences are plentiful.

Whether it’s India, Russia or in the USA, there have been extensive stories of patients coming off the surgery with at least 5cms of height and only mild stiffness. Moreover, extensive studies on the long-term experiences of patients have mostly garnered nothing but patient satisfaction and favorable outcomes [24]. Candidates reported being happier with minimal complications even with external fixators [25].

Remarkably, limb enhancement surgeries even have a history of helping patients gain their latent self-confidence and squash feelings of inadequacy, thereby helping dissipate their height dysphoria [26]. A remarkable achievement for any field of cosmetic surgery.

Conclusion

The rise of limb lengthening can be attributed to the impressive surgical advancements in innovative scientific methods. Unlike other fields of cosmetic surgery, limb lengthening has garnered an unprecedented high success rate in rapid strides. With its thorough process, rigorous post-op routine and the expertise and diligence of most surgeons, the triumphs of limb lengthening surgeries are far and wide.

For anyone wanting to reap the benefits of stature lengthening, be sure to discuss the matter with a healthcare professional and more importantly, prioritize finding a great surgeon over costs.

References

[1] Raymundo, D., & Ritter, B. (2012, February 24). New York Man ‘Grows’ Six Inches Through Surgery. ABC news. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://abcnews.go.com/Health/york-man-grows-inches-surgery/story?id=15776730.

[2] Judge, T. A., & Cable, D. M. (2004). The effect of physical height on workplace success and income: Preliminary test of a theoretical model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(3), 428–441. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.89.3.428

[3] Brewer, G., & Riley, C. (2009). Height, relationship satisfaction, jealousy, and mate retention. Evolutionary Psychology, 7(3), 147470490900700. https://doi.org/10.1177/147470490900700310

[4] Hosny, G. A. (2020). Limb lengthening history, evolution, complications and current concepts. Journal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s10195-019-0541-3

[5] Rozbruch, R. (2020, April 22). Limb Lengthening: An overview by s. Robert Rozbruch: HSS. Hospital for Special Surgery. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.hss.edu/conditions_limb-lengthening-overview.asp.

[6] Tim O’ Corrigan. (2020). Precice method. www.timocarrigan.com.au. Retrieved from https://www.timocarrigan.com.au/precice-lengthening-nail-orthopaedic-surgeon-campbelltown-nsw.html.

[7] How does Limb LENGTHENING WORK? Paley Orthopedic & Spine Institute. (2020, November 3). Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://paleyinstitute.org/centers-of-excellence/limb-lengthening-world-renowned-surgeons/how-does-limb-lengthening-work/#/.

[8] Hasler, C. C., & Krieg, A. H. (2012). Current concepts of leg lengthening. Journal of Children’s Orthopaedics, 6(2), 89–104. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11832-012-0391-5

[9] Costs & financial considerations. Paley Orthopedic & Spine Institute. (2018, August 3). Retrieved September 23, 2021, from https://paleyinstitute.org/centers-of-excellence/stature-lengthening/costs-financial-considerations/#/.

[10] Daccanomics. (2021, February 28). Limb lengthening surgery cost in India 2021: Increase height. Daccanomics. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from https://daccanomics.com/limb-lengthening-surgery-cost-in-india/.

[11] Leg lengthening surgery costs By DOCTOR, country & more (full guide). LegLengtheningSurgery.com. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2021, from https://leglengtheningsurgery.com/costs-limb-lengthening/.

[12] Says:, M., Daha Uzun Olmak İstiyorum – Yönetici says: says:, Z. M., Wanna Be Taller – Admin says: says:, H. S. W., says:, J., Says:, S., says:, A. D., says:, Z., says:, M. S. G. M., says:, K. M., says:, S. kawsar, Says:, W., Says:, Y., Says:, P. J., says:, S., says:, R., & says:, A. (2021, September 3). Limb lengthening surgery and services. Wanna Be Taller. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from https://wannabetaller.com/our-services/.

[13] Morrison, S. G., Georgiadis, A. G., Huser, A. J., & Dahl, M. T. (2020). Complications of Limb Lengthening With Motorized Intramedullary Nails. The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 28(18), e803–e809. https://doi.org/10.5435/JAAOS-D-20-00064 [14] Paley, D. (2015). PRECICE INTRAMEDULLARY limb lengthening system. Expert Review of Medical Devices, 12(3), 231–249. https://doi.org/10.1586/17434440.2015.1005604

[14] Paley D. (2015). PRECICE intramedullary limb lengthening system. Expert review of medical devices, 12(3), 231–249. https://doi.org/10.1586/17434440.2015.1005604

[15] Rozbruch, D. R. (2020). Stature lengthening. www.bbc.com. BBC. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-55146906.

[16] Leg lengthening and shortening. Mount Sinai Health System. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2021, from https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/surgery/leg-lengthening-and-shortening.

[17] Jackman, T., Devine, N., & Seiger, C. (2013). Home health physical therapy intervention for an adolescent after intramedullary skeletal kinetic distractor limb-lengthening surgery: a case report. Journal of allied health, 42(3), 163–168.

[18] Barker, K. L., Lamb, S. E., & Simpson, H. R. (2010). Recovery of muscle strength and power after limb-lengthening surgery. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 91(3), 384–388. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apmr.2009.11.014

[19] Paley, D. (2018). Stature Lengthening Guidebook. Florida; Paley Institute.

[20] Iliadis, A. D., Palloni, V., Wright, J., Goodier, D., & Calder, P. (2021). Pediatric Lower Limb Lengthening Using the PRECICE Nail: Our Experience With 50 Cases. Journal of pediatric orthopedics, 41(1), e44–e49. https://doi.org/10.1097/BPO.0000000000001672

[21] Galal, S., Shin, J., Principe, P., Khabyeh-Hasbani, N., Mehta, R., Hamilton, A., Rozbruch, S. R., & Fragomen, A. T. (2021). STRYDE versus PRECICE magnetic internal lengthening nail for femur lengthening. Archives of orthopaedic and trauma surgery, 10.1007/s00402-021-03943-8. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00402-021-03943-8

[22] Fragomen, A. T. (2020). Motorized INTRAMEDULLARY LENGTHENING Nails: Outcomes and complications. Techniques in Orthopaedics, 35(3), 225–232. https://doi.org/10.1097/bto.0000000000000458

[23] Paley, D. (2018). Stature Lengthening Guidebook. Florida; Paley Institute.

[24] Marwan, Y., Cohen, D., Alotaibi, M., Addar, A., Bernstein, M., & Hamdy, R. (2020). Cosmetic stature lengthening: systematic review of outcomes and complications. Bone & joint research, 9(7), 341–350. https://doi.org/10.1302/2046-3758.97.BJR-2019-0379.R1

[25] Elbatrawy, Y., & Ragab, I. M. (2015). Safe Cosmetic Leg Lengthening for Short Stature: Long-term Outcomes. Orthopedics, 38(7), e552–e560. https://doi.org/10.3928/01477447-20150701-51

[26] Guerreschi, F., & Tsibidakis, H. (2016). Cosmetic lengthening: what are the limits?. Journal of children’s orthopaedics, 10(6), 597–604. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11832-016-0791-z

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