Have you always wanted to be taller? Perhaps you've heard a bit about how surgery can make a difference in your height or are actually considering height lengthening surgery. If that's the case, here are three facts about height lengthening you really need to know:
- Surgery to make you taller could increase your height by as much as six inches.
- Height lengthening techniques can also be used to correct leg deformities such as one leg being shorter.
- Being taller can affect your work life, income, self-esteem and personal relationships.
Why Height Lengthening?
Height lengthening – also known as height enhancement or limb lengthening – was originally developed to help people with dwarfism. Since those early days, the surgery has also been used in people who have one leg shorter than the other as a result of congenital problems, injuries and infections. Today, surgery to make you taller is another reason for height lengthening. Short stature can be the result of genetic inheritance or growth limitations because of nutrition or hormonal influences. Height lengthening surgery is now used cosmetically in addition to treating medical issues like dwarfism.
Height and Your Life
Height can make a difference in the quality of your life. Researchers in Sweden found that taller men were more likely to go on for higher education. Even full brothers of different heights had differences in educational attainment, with men over six feet up to three times more likely to attain higher education than their shorter brothers. Earnings are higher for people who are taller, with those over six feet tall earning as much as $100,000 more a year than someone 5'4”. Research also shows that tall men are more likely to develop long-term relationships and taller people date more than those who are short. Finally, height can improve emotional well-being and self-confidence. Many people who have height lengthening surgery talk about how much better they feel about themselves with those extra inches.
How Does It Work?
Originally developed by a Russian orthopedic surgeon named Gaviriil Ilizarov, height lengthening surgery once required external metal frames that looked like something out of a Frankenstein movie. Today, orthopedic surgeons use internal metal devices. The modern devices have a lower risk of infection, don't catch on clothes or bedding and are essentially invisible except for small incisions until the skin heals. The original metal frames had to be physically adjusted by turning a dial or screw about one millimeter (about .04 inches) once or twice a day. The newest device is usually implanted into the bone of the thigh (the femur) and adjusted with an external magnet-controlled controller. These devices can also be used in the other bones in the leg as well. Once healing is complete, the hardware used to lengthen the limb is usually removed during a minor surgical procedure, usually about a year later.
Taking Advantage of Nature
The concept behind surgery to make you taller revolves around the bones' natural healing process. When you break a bone, the body lays down new tissue between and around the fracture area. As the tissue gradually absorbs calcium and becomes harder, it literally rebuilds bone in the injured area, creating what is known as a callus. In height adjustment surgery, the surgeon actually cuts the bone to simulate the conditions that occur with a fracture. The height lengthening device very gradually and gently moves the bone ends apart, stimulating callus formation in the open area between the bone ends. The body responds by building more callus, effectively making the bones longer. New nerve and muscle tissue, and blood vessels are also created in the area as it heals.
About the Surgery
Surgery to make you taller takes place in a hospital or outpatient surgery center. The procedure takes about three to four hours and most patients can go home after a couple of days stay at the hospital. The device cannot withstand full weight-bearing at that point, so you'll use a walker to prevent damage to device and protect the healing bone. Physical therapy is necessary to maintain muscle strength and flexibility. Once the bone has reached the desired length, the consolidation phase begins. At this point, weight-bearing exercise is desirable because it strengthens the bone. Swimming is another excellent exercise during the recovery period.
If you've always wanted to be taller or have a problem such as a short leg, height lengthening surgery to make you taller is an option. Being taller could improve your work and personal life as well as your self-esteem. Contact a qualified orthopedic surgeon for an assessment and recommendations. It could change your life.