Gaining A Few Extra Inches Through Height Surgery
Many people aspire to be taller than the height they have been born with. However, genetics did not allow them to gain the vital few extra inches that would boost their confidence and self-esteem. The solution to gain the few extra inches is height surgery or more popularly known as limb lengthening surgery.
Innovations in surgical techniques have allowed height surgery that can add about 2 to 3 inches to a person’s height. However, the success of limb lengthening surgery depends on the patient’s capacity to regenerate new bone as well as the soft tissues, ligaments, blood vessels and nerves that will surround and support the new bone. Like all other surgeries, limb lengthening is costly and has its share of risks.
Limb lengthening procedure
The process of limb lengthening starts with an operation called osteotomy where the surgeon cuts the bone that will be lengthened. The limb which is usually the upper or lower leg will be stabilized through different external and internal fixation devices and frames.
During the distraction phase of the height surgery, the surgeon will gradually pull apart the bone that has been cut to promote distraction osteogenesis or new bone growth at the site of the osteotomy. By distracting or spreading the gap by one quarter of a millimeter four times a day, growth of new bone tissue will be accomplished. As the space between the ends of the bone opens up, new tissues will be produced on the gap until the desired length of bone has been achieved.
The gradual process of limb lengthening is accomplished through the use of an external fixator or an internal lengthening nail. The external fixator consists of a frame that is built outside the limb and connected to the bone through pins, screws and wires. The external fixator is gradually adjusted to lengthen and straighten the limb.
The internal lengthening nail is a telescopic and motorized intramedullary nail or rod that is inserted on the marrow cavity of the bone. The magnet in the nail is rotated through a remote-control device to gradually elongate the telescopic nail as well as the bone.
The bone will consolidate and heal while the patient gradually adds more weight on the affected limb. During the second phase of the treatment, the patient will start walking without any assistance. Once the lengthened bone has healed, the new bone will be as strong as the rest of the bones in the body. The new bone will not deteriorate or weaken over time.
Previously, limb lengthening was the solution for leg length inequality due to a congenital defect. Nowadays the procedure is used to lengthen the legs of people with exceptionally short statures. The success rate of the procedure is about 95%, which is very high for a height surgery. Since small incisions are required during the process, only minimal scarring can be expected. Serious complications are quite rare except for some minor problems with the pins. Physical therapy is very important to keep the patient’s joints flexible and to ensure muscle strength.