Tips on Picking & Vetting Leg Lengthening Surgeons
Written by Joshua Leaf | Updated on November 6, 2021
If you are considering leg lengthening surgery for cosmetic purposes or any other reason, it is imperative to research surgeons and pick the best one that fits your preferences, criteria, budget etc. Many people consider traveling overseas in search of a less expensive surgery from a relatively new or unknown surgeon. It’s important to remember that the surgery is just the initial step of leg lengthening. There is follow up care, and the potential for complications after surgery that require extra care and sometimes even another surgery.
Choosing the most appropriate doctor could be the difference between a successful, and a botched surgery. While it may be more expensive, the safer option is to choose a doctor with the most experience, the best follow-up care, and in an appropriate location for the patient.
What Makes a Great Stature Lengthening Surgeon?
Stature lengthening or height surgery is still a relatively new type of procedure, so it is extremely important to pick a surgeon with proper experience performing this surgery. The best surgeons will have had experience not only with cosmetic leg lengthening, but with congenital issues, such as leg length discrepancy. Performing surgery on patients with congenital defects or traumatic injuries are much more complex than cosmetic leg lengthening, and therefore will provide the surgeon with much more experience.
Of course, choosing a surgeon is a personal choice. There are some metrics to keep in mind, no matter of personal preference. A great surgeon will put the patient’s safety first, will have a successful track record performing these surgeries, for a multitude of reasons, and will provide excellent after care. After care is extremely important for this procedure. If the leg(s) do not heal properly, complications will arise, and perhaps even the need for another surgery.
Are There Good Leg Lengthening Surgeons Overseas?
Yes actually, there’s excellent surgeons across the world, but there’s more to leg lengthening lengthening than just the procedure. A surgeon must have experience to understand different releases that might need to be done such as the ITB band release, they must have a dedicated or knowledgeable physical therapist team, their facilities need to be up to date, and they must know how to fix complications.
Not to mention, the patient must be prepared to stay near their surgery location for several months for such care so it’s important to choose a country with adequate infrastructure and hopefully minimal language barriers.
Be wary of a bargain misconception – the patient may end up spending far more money and time recovering by choosing the wrong surgeon, just to get a more favorable sticker price.
Dr. Paley says that he has received several patients who got the surgery overseas and he winds up doing his best to fix them after the fact. In these cases, he estimates that it would’ve been cheaper just to lengthen with him.
There are many well-equipped and successful surgeons in the United States, and of course there are surgeons overseas as well that are successful. For patients based in the United States, location should hold a lot of weight in their decision. The most successful surgeons do practice here in the United States. For example, the most experienced leg lengthening surgeon, by way of experience and success rates is Dr. Paley, of the Paley Orthopedic and Spine Institute. Dr. Paley has performed over 20,000 of these procedures and is located in Florida.
Then there’s Dr. Rozbruch in NYC who works at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) and his credentials are just as impressive as Paley’s.
How Do I Research to Find the Best Limb Lengthening Surgeon?
The more information gathered before committing to a surgeon, the better. Scholarly resources such as academic journals and credentials found online can be very helpful. However, it’s important to also consider data such as patient experiences on blogs, YouTube videos, and forums.
Ultimately, each patient must make this decision on their own. There are many factors to consider – cost, location, reason for surgery. One surgeon may be perfect for patient A but not patient B. Considering the magnitude and sheer length of recovery time, this is not a decision to made lightly.
Limb Lengthening Surgeons & Doctors
In the United States, there are six widely known and agreed upon surgeons to be the most successful in the field of cosmetic and congenital limb lengthening. With Dr. Paley as the undisputed master of this surgery, many of these doctors have trained under him, or were trained by doctors that Dr. Dror Paley himself has trained. The “top six” are as follows: Dr. Dror Paley, Dr. Robert Rozbruch, Dr. Shahab Mahboubian (“Dr. M.”), Dr. Janet Conway, Dr. Kevin Debiparshad, and Dr. Steven Lee.
Dr. Paley is, of course, the world’s leading expert in stature lengthening. He is the head of the Paley Institute, in West Palm Beach, Florida. As far as sheer numbers, Dr. Paley has the top spot.
Dr. Rozbruch is an orthopedic surgeon working at the HSS – the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City – a hospital that exclusively performs orthopedic surgery and treats rheumatologic problems.
Dr. Mahboubian is a surgeon based on the west coast, in Los Angeles. He uses the Precice and Stryde nail systems on his patients – the newest, third generation of limb lengthening procedures. Dr. M. is also active on Instagram, should potential patients be curious of his practice.
Dr. Conway is an orthopedic surgeon based out of Baltimore, Maryland. She is the head of Bone and Joint Infection at Sinai Hospital, in Baltimore.
Dr. Debiparshad is an orthopedic surgeon based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He only provides cosmetic limb lengthening procedures.
Each candidate should carefully consider their options before picking a surgeon. As seen in this list, some of the most practiced doctors in the world have certain specialties, and therefore will not be a good match for every candidate.
This is not to say there are not well-practiced and successful surgeons overseas – Dr. Dimitrios Giotikas, based out of Greece, is an excellent surgeon. Dr. G. works at the Athens Bone and Joint Reconstruction Centre. His focus is always on patient safety over the height obtained.
Cost Benefit Analysis
It’s important to remember that most patients only get one shot at this procedure.
For patients wishing to increase their height for cosmetic reasons, it is also important to weigh the cost of this surgery against the actual amount of height gained on average. Is 3 inches of height worth an enormous medical bill, up to a year in recovery, and the potential medical risks associated? For many patients, they will find out during their consultation that no, it is not worth it.
Cost is an important factor to weigh before committing to this surgery. This surgery costs, on average, between $100,000 and $280,000 in the USA. Not to mention, in most cases, insurance will not cover this surgery, as it is an “elective surgery” – not medically necessary. Alternatives to this surgery are seeking mental health services to help with the patient’s insecurities. Some candidates are confident that surgery is their best option, and for that person it is, but it may not be for the next candidate.
Studies lead us to believe that those with minor height dysphoria or body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) can relieve themselves from such disorders or dissatisfaction using limb lengthening surgery. However, there’s others with extreme BDD who will always see themselves as short, even if they grow 12 inches overnight.
Priorities When Picking a Height Surgeon
Safety should always be the patient’s and the surgeon’s number one priority. This procedure is still relatively new, and if a surgeon is more concerned with ultimate height gained, this can lead to severe medical consequences for the patient. There are some surgeons that will allow patients to extend up to 10cm in one session, but in 90% of these cases this is very dangerous – the best surgeons will only allow the patient to lengthen up until their muscles become too tight. If they continue after this happens, the patient may get contractures, among other issues.
Of course, costs are a factor but we encourage most patients to prioritize last or second to last because while it’s important, most people would rather pay more to ensure they’re not permanently affected from such a procedure.
It is in every patient’s best interest to do as much research as possible and have consultations with any surgeon they’re seriously considering. See what others are saying about the surgeon, and see if he has good bedside manners or other academic upkeep.
Location is yet another important factor since each country has different infrastructure and overall level of healthcare. Recovery time for this surgery can last up to a year so it would be most convenient if the patient lived relatively close to their chosen hospital in case of complications. Although this is unlikely to be the case for most people. The cost of travel, as well, will simply add on to the financial burden of this procedure.
If you’ve already picked a doctor and moving forward with the procedure, check out our comprehensive checklist that details every aspect that should be considered before opting for height surgery.