When you need surgery, choosing a doctor can be an anxiety-provoking process. That can be even more true when you're looking for a specialized surgeon such as a height lengthening doctor. No matter how simple the surgery, there is always the possibility of complications. Patients of the best-performing surgeons typically have significantly fewer complications. Here's some information to help you make a choice.
About Height Lengthening Surgery
Bones have an innate capability to heal. When a fracture occurs, the bones lay down new bone matrix and form a callus. Height lengthening surgery takes advantage of this capability – the bone is cut and an internal or external adjustable device attached to both sides of the cut. The device is adjusted to gradually spread the distance between the bone ends and the body responds by building a callus in the area. The leg bones are most commonly lengthened. Most people can gain an average of two to three inches more in height with just one surgery.
All doctors begin their training with the basics: four years of college, four years of medical school and at least three years of residency. For a specialist such as a height lengthening doctor, there is still a long path. All orthopedic surgeons spend a minimum of five years in residency. The first year is general surgery training, while the remaining four years focus on orthopedics. The next step is a fellowship, which is an extended period of training in more advanced techniques such as limb lengthening. Fellowships last at least one year and may last up to three. Fellowships in limb lengthening are limited, as this is an uncommon specialty.
The performance of surgery requires close attention to detail, manual dexterity and repetition. Like any task or skill, experience in performing multiple procedures decreases the chances of problems – it's the old “practice makes perfect” maxim. Since height lengthening is such a specialized procedure, your choices of a surgeon are more limited. As of 2014, there were only five places in the US where you could obtain this surgery. However, this limited number does mean that choosing a doctor specializing in height lengthening is a bit easier, as you have fewer comparisons to make.
Another important maxim in choosing a height lengthening orthopedic doctor is “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” In other words, how does the doctor perform? The factors to consider are numerous. Patient satisfaction is certainly important. Another is the rate of complications, such as bleeding or infections. Surgery requires a team of experts; no matter how good the surgeon, it's important to look at such outcomes as anesthesia complications or post-operative issues related to nursing care or physical therapy. Much of this data is available from the hospital where the height lengthening doctor practices. You should also the medical board or national practitioners databank to ensure the doctor has an active license, is in good standing with the board and has no disciplinary actions on his or her record.
No matter how skillful a surgeon is, your compatibility with the doctor affects your outcomes. You must be able to trust the doctor and feel safe. Like any doctor, your height lengthening surgeon should be friendly and approachable. You should expect to have all your questions fully answered and to be treated with respect. Your personality and that of your doctor should be compatible enough to allow you to work as a team. You should feel free to ask questions, express concerns and make decisions that are right for you.
Questions to Ask
When choosing a height lengthening doctor (or any doctor), it's important to know what questions to ask. Here are the basics:
- Are you licensed in this state?
- Do you hold board certification in this specialty?
- Have you ever been reprimanded by a medical board?
- Can this procedure be performed with minimally invasive surgery?
- How often have you performed this type of procedure?
- What kinds of complications have you encountered?
- What are my risks if I have this surgery?
- What is your infection rate?
- What is the hospital’s infection rate?
- Does the hospital follow best practices?
In addition, check online sources such as ProPublica, SurgeonRatings.org and Consumers' Checkbook for information on number of procedures performed and complication rates. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also have data on hospitals. Ask to talk to other patients who have had this procedure. If possible, talk to physician and nursing colleagues of the surgeon you're considering. You can also get a second opinion.
If you are dissatisfied with your height, height lengthening surgery may be an option for you. Contact a height lengthening doctor for an assessment. These tips will help you make a good choice.