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Questions and Answers about Leg Lengthening

Q: Is it possible to become taller using pills or chemicals? A: No. Categorically not. Once you have stopped growing, the growth plates in your bones fuse and this prevents any further growth of your bones. Bones are the major contributing factor to your height. Any company claiming to offer pills, chemicals, machinery or other magical solutions to permanent height increase are trying to scam people. No such solution has ever been proven to work. Q: How does Leg Lengthening work? A: It involves one or more of the bones in a limb being broken, and then the two separate parts of that bone being slowly pulled apart (distracted). Normally this involves small adjustments done several times a day. Bone regenerates in this situation, and new bone cells will be produced and will fill the space in the break. The new bone will not be fully hardened (consolidate) for over a year, but should be strong enough to support walking within a few months of surgery. There are a number of different techniques, some involving only internal procedures, others using external and sometimes a combination of the two. The principle was discovered by Professor Ilizarov of Russia, and the standard external device for lengthening or leg correction is called the Ilizarov frame. There are many alternatives, but nearly all are based on the principles discovered by Professor Ilizarov. Q: How much can Leg Lengthening allow me to grow? The human body has astonishing growth abilities, and significant height increases have been realised by people with growth deficiencies. Technically, in excess of 12 inches is possible where medical reasons dictate. For cosmetic reasons, most surgeons recommend a maximum of 5cm per limb, but up to 12cm is possible with some techniques. However, excessive lengthening may cause problems with the patient's bodily proportions which may make them unattractive. It may also lead to future health problems such as premature arthritis, bone weakness or muscle atrophy. Q: Does it hurt? Yes! There is certainly some pain involved in leg lengthening (LL), but it most cases the pain is manageable using painkillers and therapies. Some people may find the pain unbearable and be able to continue with the treatment, others will experience very little pain and discomfort. In general, internal methods are less painful than external methods but there are no 'pain-free' treatments available. Q: How long does it take? For an increase of 5cm (50mm) a normal, healthy adult should expect the whole process to take about 6 months from operation, to being able to walk again. Some people will take longer. For those who are particularly fit, healthy and have a high pain tolerance, it may be possible to do it more quickly. Whilst the bone can regenerate at a rate of 1mm per day, muscles, blood vessels, nerves and tendons grow more slowly, and so a lengthening rate of 0.666mm per day is recommended as the maximum for a normal, healthy adult. A strong person with an above-average level of fitness may be able to achieve a rate of 0.833mm per day. Some doctors allow 1.00mm per day lengthening, but at this pace of lengthening, muscle and tendon problems are common, especially with the knees and ankles. (Opinion: We strongly advises against lengthening any faster than 0.666mm per day). Q: Is it dangerous? All unnecessary cosmetic surgery carries an element of danger and should doctors should ensure that their patients fully understand all of the risks and potential complications before they accept them for surgery. Whilst there are very few reports of serious injury or limb loss, it is a possibility with this type of surgery. Q: How much does it cost? The full costs for an LL treatment of 5cm are likely to be between 12,500 and 125,000 US Dollars depending on a number of factors. Q: What are the acute side effects of the height increasing procedure? A: During the limb lengthening procedure there may be such side effects as pain, itching, inflammations, pin site infections and slow consolidation of the lengthening gaps. However, since the patients are under our physicians' control, serious complication such as loss of leg function is rarely happened. Most of the minor complications are dealt with promptly and free of charge in our hospital.