Whether you’re aspiring to stand out, pursue a professional basketball career, or simply enjoy outdoor activities with ease, the desire to increase your height may lead you to consider leg lengthening surgery. However, it’s important to weigh both the advantages and disadvantages of this procedure. Leg lengthening surgery is an option that offers a potential increase in height, but it comes with a high cost, significant pain, and complexity. Nonetheless, an increasing number of individuals opt for this surgery for cosmetic purposes.
Now, let’s delve deeper into this topic!
What is Leg Lengthening Surgery?
Leg lengthening surgery is a medical procedure performed in a hospital setting that leverages the body’s natural ability to generate new bone. This method is designed to gradually elongate a shorter leg by stretching the soft tissues, blood vessels, and nerves over time. During the surgery, one of the leg bones is cut, and a metal lengthening device is inserted. This device gradually creates space within the bone, a process referred to as “distraction.”
The distraction process occurs at an approximate rate of 1 mm per day until the desired length of the bone is achieved. As the leg bone is distracted, the body initiates the formation of new bone cells to fill the gap. Bone distraction can be carried out using either an external fixator or an internal lengthening nail:
- External Fixator: This involves attaching a metal frame to the outside of the leg and securing it to the bone using pins, wires, and screws. The frame can be adjusted to increase the space between the two parts of the cut leg bone.
- Internal Lengthening Nail: In this method, a metal nail or rod is inserted into the bone marrow cavity of the leg bone. It can be adjusted using a remote control device that revolves around a magnet, gradually lengthening the nail like a telescope and, in turn, the bone.
Once the desired length is achieved, the metal lengthening device remains in place for several months until the bone fully heals and solidifies. Subsequently, it is surgically removed.
Leg lengthening surgery is a complex and intricate procedure that offers the potential for increased height, but it should be carefully considered due to its high cost, pain, and potential complications. Individuals who opt for this surgery usually do so for cosmetic reasons, acknowledging both its benefits and challenges.
Reasons for Undergoing Leg Lengthening Surgery
Limb-lengthening surgery is typically performed to address discrepancies in leg length, particularly when one leg is noticeably shorter than the other. This condition may arise from congenital factors or injuries. However, it’s crucial to note that surgeons generally consider this procedure when the leg length difference is less than an inch. For minor differences, alternative treatments such as using a shoe insert may be recommended.
Here are some underlying causes that can result in leg length discrepancies:
- Birth Injuries: Injuries during birth that affect bone growth can lead to uneven leg lengths.
- Cerebral Palsy: Individuals with cerebral palsy may experience differences in leg length due to muscle and developmental issues.
- Muscular Issues: A history of tight or shortened muscles, fractures, poliomyelitis, or injuries to the lower legs can contribute to leg length disparities.
- Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: This condition, which affects the hip joint, can lead to variations in leg length during childhood.
Ideal Age for the Surgery
Limb-lengthening surgery is most commonly performed on young adults, typically between the ages of 18 and 25, as they approach the end of their bone growth phase. However, in exceptional cases, this procedure may be considered for older adults as well. For individuals with dwarfism, particularly those affected by achondroplasia (a genetic condition characterized by twisted legs), doctors may recommend leg lengthening surgery for both limbs.
The choice of when to undergo leg lengthening surgery depends on factors such as the patient’s age, the severity of the leg length discrepancy, and the underlying cause. Consulting with a medical professional is essential to determine the most appropriate timing and approach for addressing leg length differences through surgery.
What to Expect Before, During, and After Leg Lengthening Surgery
Before the Surgery:
Before undergoing leg lengthening surgery, your doctor will provide specific instructions on how to prepare for the procedure. These instructions may include:
- Fasting: Typically, you will be advised to avoid eating or drinking anything after midnight on the day before the surgery.
- Medication: You may need to discontinue the use of certain herbal supplements or medications prior to the surgery. Your doctor will provide guidance on which medications to stop.
- Transportation: Ensure that you have arranged for transportation to the hospital for the surgery and a ride back home upon discharge.
- Personal Care Items: It’s a good idea to bring personal care items you might need during your hospital stay.
Your doctor may have additional instructions tailored to your specific case, so be sure to follow them diligently.
During the Surgery:
The surgery itself involves one of the two methods mentioned previously, and it is conducted under general anesthesia, ensuring that you are completely asleep during the procedure.
A common method involves the following steps:
- The surgeon makes an incision and carefully cuts the bone in a strategic location.
- Metal pins and screws are inserted into the bone to provide stability.
- External metal devices are attached to the pins, which are used to gradually pull apart the cut area of the bone. This process stimulates new bone growth.
Once the desired length is achieved, the surgeon will remove the pins. The maximum length by which your legs can be extended is typically limited to around 3 inches.
After the Surgery:
After the surgery, your doctor will provide detailed instructions for the post-surgical period. Depending on your specific case, you may need to stay in the hospital for several days for observation and physical therapy. Light activities are often recommended, and you may require the use of crutches for mobility. Additionally, calcium and vitamin D supplements are typically prescribed to support bone growth.
The limb lengthening process usually spans approximately one year, from the initial surgery to the removal of devices. However, the duration may vary depending on the chosen method and your individual response to treatment. While the success rate of this surgery is around 95%, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects and risks. Your doctor will thoroughly discuss these factors with you before the surgery, ensuring you are well-informed about the procedure and its potential outcomes.
How to increase your height naturally?
The path to tallness with this method is long, tedious, and even costly. Yes, the leg lengthening surgery cost starts at about $75,000 in the U.S. Instead, there are certain things that you can carry out during adolescence to make sure you are optimizing your height growth naturally and effectively.
Maintain a Wholesome Diet:
A well-balanced diet is essential for providing the body with the necessary nutrients to support growth. Ensure your diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables, protein sources, dairy products, and whole grains. It’s crucial to obtain an adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D, either through dietary sources or supplements, as these nutrients are vital for optimal bone health.
Prioritize Quality Sleep:
Adequate sleep is crucial for growth, as the body releases human growth hormones during rest. Teenagers, in particular, should aim for 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night, as recommended by medical experts. Sufficient sleep helps stimulate tissue growth in the body.
Engage in Physical Activities:
Regular physical activity offers numerous health benefits, including the promotion of bone and muscle strength. It also enhances the production of human growth hormones (HGH) and aids in maintaining a healthy weight. School-age children are encouraged to engage in daily physical activities, such as exercises, sports, or recreational activities, for approximately 30 minutes to an hour.
Activities like yoga, pushups, jumping rope, biking, and swimming are excellent choices to consider.
Consider Height Growth Supplements:
Dietary supplements can be beneficial for bone health and growth, especially when the regular diet may be lacking in essential vitamins and minerals. They can help bridge nutritional gaps and support overall well-being. In cases where there is a deficiency affecting the production of human growth hormones (HGH), a doctor may recommend a product containing synthetic HGH.
Deciding to undergo a leg lengthening surgery for the purpose of gaining height is a personal choice that carries both benefits and risks. It is crucial to have a comprehensive discussion with your doctor to determine whether this surgery is suitable for you.
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