Facts about Height Increase Surgery

Facts about Height Increase Surgery

leg lengthening surgery

Are you feeling inferior and being made fun of for your short stature? Would you like to boost your height and your self-confidence? No, we are not joking or making false claims like some ads do. We are quite serious about the matter. If you are interested in notching up a few inches, go ahead and read this article carefully.

What is Height Increase Surgery?

The height lengthening procedure makes use of the newest techniques available to allow the lengthening of your legs, thighs, or a combination of both, to help you grow taller. And, you will be surprised when you see a totally newer you in a few months. The method consists of a minimally-invasive technique that fashions a surgical cut in your bone. Then, with gradual lengthening by using an external or internal device, the bone is lengthened to the desired height. And, the result? You will find yourself getting taller by several inches.

Deformity correction surgery is used to lengthen and, if necessary, straighten deformed bone segments and replace the missing bone. The procedures can be performed on both, children and adults alike, who have leg length discrepancies or deformities due to birth defects, disease, or injury. The corrective surgery can also be used on patients with bony nonunion (non-healing bone), bow legs, knock knees, foot and ankle deformities, and people having Osteomyelitis (bone infection).

The principle of lengthening or correcting a deformed limb is based on the method of Distraction Osteogenesis. During this process, a bone that has been cut surgically is gradually pulled apart, leading to new bone formation – the process is called osteogenesis - at the spot that has been lengthened. This technique is normally used to correct limb length discrepancies, commonly known as LLDs, in both adults and children that may be due to birth defects, diseases or injuries.

This type of surgery is also used to correct deformities in other joints, hip corrections, and also for treating complex problems related to scar tissue that limits normal limb function and movement. The surgery is performed by highly trained and experienced orthopedic surgeons who have an extensive knowledge in correcting LLDs.

How does it work?

The limb lengthening surgery involves the use of limb lengthening techniques that utilize the body’s ability to heal itself through the regeneration of bone and soft tissues. Examples of such regeneration are blood vessels, muscles, nerves, and skin. As explained earlier, the method of distraction osteogenesis involves gradually pulling apart of a surgically cut bone, enabling for the growth of a new bone (osteogenesis) in the gap created. The method of pulling apart a surgically cut bone is known as distraction, and hence the name distraction osteogenesis. Subsequently, the new bone hardens and merges, and is as strong as any other bone in your body.

In most cases this is cosmetic leg lengthening that works by using the body’s ability to heal itself. Cosmetic leg lengthening is only done to increase a patient’s height. The procedure includes minimally invasive methods of accessing and cutting shin bones and femurs, which automatically begins to generate a new bone. As the bones heal, they are pulled apart by the Ilizarov-Veklich device to make them longer.

If the Lengthening is to be Performed in the Thighs, One of Following Two Techniques May be Utilized:

1) Lengthening Over a Nail (LON):

This technique utilizes an external device to distract and lengthen the bone, while an internal rod that is placed serves to protect the new bone that develops.

2) Fully Implantable Self-Lengthening Rod:

A new device that has recently been developed is the 'Precice' lengthening device. It serves to lengthen the bone with its internal magnetic mechanism without the need for an external fixation device. This method is extremely reliable and the least painful method of getting taller.

What is the Process of Distraction Osteogenesis?

The process of distraction osteogenesis involves a series of steps.

Step 1:

In the 1st step, the bone to be lengthened is cracked through a small incision done by the orthopedic surgeon.

Step 2:

The limb is then stabilized using either an external or internal fixation device.

Step 3:

In this type of surgery, most patients stay in the hospital for only a day or two after surgery. The physical therapy or physiotherapy starts immediately the day after surgery. Having joint mobility is a very essential requirement of distraction osteogenesis, and this starts 5-10 days after the surgery.

Step 4:

During the distraction phase, the cut in the bone is slowly pulled apart with daily adjustments being made to the fixator. As the space between the bones increases, the body will produce new bone in the gap until the required amount of bone is generated.

Step 5:

During the lengthening phase of treatment, patients are X-rayed and examined every week or once in 10 days to evaluate bone growth, nerve, and muscle function and to also have the surgery site examined for any infection.

Step 6:

After the desired length of bone has grown and the limb has been straightened, adjustments to the fixator is stopped. During this consolidation phase, the fixator is not removed while the new bone hardens and matures.

Step 7:

X-rays are used to confirm that the new bone is totally healed, and then the fixation device is removed. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia, and you will be allowed to go home the same day. A cast or brace is placed on the limb after the fixator has been removed to protect the bone - it will have to be worn for a few weeks.

Usually, the average time the fixator remains is one month per centimeter of bone lengthened in children and two months for adults. The surgery for each limb takes approximately 2 hours, which does not include prep and postoperative anesthesia time, which can take an additional 20 to 40 minutes.

What are the Risks of Leg Lengthening Surgery?

The surgery is done using the Ilizarov – Verklich devices, and normally have minimal risks. In less than 2-3% of cases, patients may require additional surgery, but, most of the time, this is due to ignoring the doctors’ advice. But, it should be remembered that lifestyle modifications have to be made that can lessen risks and prevent complications after surgery. After the limb lengthening surgery, there is a possibility of premature consolidation, where the soft regenerate becomes hard and the bone stops lengthening. Other possible risks are contracture, tight, soft tissues causing pain, infection, and breakage of the device or the screws.

The leg-lengthening surgery is only recommended for short people with limb deformities. You should be able to endure the surgery and the pain because you really want the surgery. The leg-lengthening surgery is an extremely long and painful procedure, and the height increase that you gain is often not worth the time, the cost, and the pain.

Who Should Avoid Surgery to Increase Height?

Surgery to increase height is not recommended to people who are looking for immediate results and who do not have the patience to wait. People who are impatient are normally those who have psychological problems. The process is performed by means of surgery, and a patient needs ample time for leg lengthening and full recovery. Surgery is not performed on those with poor health or other conditions that are not conducive for surgery.

What Types of Tests are Done Before the Height Increase Surgery?

A number of tests are done before the actual leg lengthening surgery is done. This includes an X-ray of the legs and other test such as blood pressure, urine analysis, EKG, and Complete Blood Picture. If necessary, the surgeon will appoint a psychiatrist to assess if a patient is capable of undergoing the procedure.

What Should You Expect from The Cosmetic Leg Lengthening?

Cosmetic limb lengthening procedures involve complex, painful, and considerably costly treatments with prolonged recovery periods of almost a year. If you are considering cosmetic limb lengthening, you must be prepared for the pain, discomfort, and long road to recovery associated with it. At the same time you can get the results you require – to become taller and increase the length of your legs.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad