Cosmetic Leg Lengthening A.K.A Leg Lengthening Surgery
Leg lengthening surgical operation or procedure was pioneered by Gavril Abramovich Lizarov a Soviet medical man, famous for inventing the Lizarov equipment for making limb bones longer and for his eponymic surgery in 1951 to treat World war II veterans with leg injuries.
Recently the technique attracted attention from the Pentagon, that is funding a study into its use for leg trauma wounds.
Normally, cosmetic limb lengthening surgery is used to treat patients with limb deformities like bowed legs though some individuals look at it as an investment in the future especially in countries where majority of the population is below the average height necessary to serve especially in the service industry.
An example of such countries is China where the trend swept the entire country in the recent past. However, in 2006 it was declared illegal in China after a succession of botched jobs.
The surgery isn’t for the timid.
It involves strategically breaking or cutting into two the shinbone and thigh bone then slowly separating the ends of the broken bone then allowing the separated parts of the bones to heal as they rejoin over a period of time. The body of course heals by making new bone between the gaps.
The fracture is extended several times a day and each day the fracture may be extended by a total of 1 millimeter, until the desired length is reached. The trick is to do it slow enough so that new bone continues to grow, but fast enough that it does not heal entirely.
The entire operation may take up to 3 months to fully complete, requiring a torturous physiotherapy at the end of the operation.
The maximum length that can be added in this procedure is 9 to 10 cm which is about 3.5 to 4 inches and done on people under 175 cm in height which is about 5’9″.
Dr. Alex Jahangir, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who has used the technique for corrective purposes and is involved in the Pentagon study Says risks include stretching the blood vessels and nerves around the bone more than they can endure, which could result in long-term complications. Even if the procedure is performed flawlessly, it’s agonizingly painful, and doctors don’t prescribe anti-inflammatory painkillers because they might inhibit bone growth.
A 2006 study in the journal International Orthopedics found that “complications of this treatment are frequent.” They include nerve damage, uneven lengthening, hip problems, and paralysis.
“Jack,” a 5-foot-6 man who flew to China for the operation, says on the website Short Persons Support that “becoming 5-foot-9 is the worst decision I made in my life,” and “not nearly worth the pain.”
“It involves the breaking of a perfectly good bone, possible risk of infection, and six to twelve months of very meticulous care,” Jahangir said. “If someone just wants to gain two or three inches, I don’t think the risks are worth it.”
Managing The Risks
‘It is as dangerous as any other operation,” adding that the center has not had any patients suffer long-term problems as a result.
He says he only recommends the procedure for those who are physically and psychologically prepared.
“I usually have a long conversation with the potential patient and try to put him off the operation,” he said. “It is a very serious operation and your approach cannot be frivolous.”
He also recommends that patients stay active during their recovery as a way to manage the pain.
“If someone is lazy then this won’t work. You have to be active,” he said. “Of course we do give painkillers, in the form of injections, but of course there is a limit to how much painkillers they can have.”
“If some problem does arise, we are able to handle it,” he said.
The cost of surgery with physical therapy is $80,000 for bilateral femoral lengthening and $95,000 for bilateral tibial lengthening.
Countries That Perform the Surgery
The surgery can be performed at a fraction of the cost in some less developed countries but medical care varies considerably by country. Those willing to do the surgery out side their country should know that a private nurse is a must.
Armenia Brazil Chile China Iran Israel Italy Jordan Serbia and Montenegro Singapore Syria Thailand India Germany U.S.A Russia .
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