A small woman has options to appear taller – wearing a certain style of clothing, for example. Women can also wear high heels. These visual optics don't affect actual height, however, and there's good evidence that being short has an impact on self-esteem. Women who are short – under 5'2” – also complain that people patronize them, tease them about their height or simply don't see them, especially in a crowd. If you're truly dissatisfied with your height, you do have another, permanent option: cosmetic height lengthening.
The History of Cosmetic Height Lengthening
The concept of limb lengthening, known in medical circles as distraction osteogenesis, was proposed as early as 1869 by Bernhard von Langenbeck. It was not until 1905, however, that a surgeon named Allessandro Codivilla actually attempted the procedure. The primary focus at that point was to help people who had been born with deformed legs or who had one short leg as the result of an injury. In the 1950s Gavriil Ilizarov invented a device known as the external fixator, which revolutionized limb lengthening procedures. At that point, the surgery was not used for cosmetic purposes – cosmetic height lengthening first occurred in the early 2000s in China. Today, distraction osteogensis is an accepted procedure to increase height in both men and women.
Why Opt for Cosmetic Height Lengthening?
Surgery might not be the first thing women think of when it comes to their height. On the other hand, wearing high heels isn't always an option and high heels come with a number of health risks. Extremely high heels increase the risk of twisting or even breaking an ankle. High heels – especially the extra-high type of four to six inches – change the alignment of your body.
Excess pressure on the knees and balls of the feet can cause chronic pain, and increase wear and tear on the joints. Muscles, especially in the calf, become chronically tense and tight, and the Achilles tendon shortens. High heels increase the risk of bunions, blisters and ingrown toenails, especially if they are the sort with a narrow, pointed toe.
How Cosmetic Height Lengthening Works
The human body has an amazing ability to heal broken bones. It is this ability that is harnessed in limb lengthening surgery. In most cases, both legs are done at the same time. The femur, or thigh bone is the usual choice, although the lower leg bones can also be lengthened. An injured bone can regenerate by growing new cells to fill in damaged areas. Eventually the bone develops an overgrowth called a callus. The device used in the surgery applies tension on the bone; an incision around the outside of the bone simulates a fracture. Each day, the device is adjusted a tiny amount. The new bone and blood vessels develop in the open area, while muscles and nerves also adjust to the increased length. After the maximum height is reached and healing is complete, the device is removed during a second outpatient procedure.
A Patient's Perspective
The video shows a real patient named Liz who underwent cosmetic height lengthening. As you can see and hear, Liz found the surgery very beneficial. Having been short all of her life, Liz had always wanted to be taller. Surgery increased her self-confidence and she reports that she felt safe and had no concerns about complications. She was delighted that instead of the two inches of additional height she expected, she was actually able to increase her height by three inches. Liz says for the first time in her life she is actually taller than some of the people around her.
Surgery: Preparation and Recovery
Preparing for cosmetic height lengthening is similar to getting ready for most surgeries. The procedure is considered minimally invasive, although a general anesthetic is most often used. Physical therapy prior to the surgery is helpful, to stretch and strengthen muscles in the legs as well as the arms, which will bear much of the weight on a walker or crutches after the operation. After the immediate post-anesthesia recovery period, the process known as distraction begins. The devices inserted into the legs must be adjusted several times a day using a magnet. You'll work with physical therapists to learn how to walk with crutches and/or a walker. Other kinds of exercise are encouraged – swimming is a particularly good choice.
After several months, the consolidation phase begins. At this point, you have attained maximum height and it's just a matter of allowing the callus to grow and strengthen. Once the surgeon is comfortable that the bone is healed and strong enough, the device is removed. The scars are minimal, as the device is inserted through small incisions and removed in the same way. A regular exercise program continues for several months to ensure your muscles are full stretched and regain their full strength.
If you were not born with the height you wanted, you do have a second chance. Cosmetic height lengthening surgery can help you gain up to six inches in height. Contact a qualified orthopedic specialist for an assessment – as Liz will be the first to tell you, it can certainly change your life for the better.