Can Height Be Increased After The Age Of 40?
No matter how old we are, we may want to make changes regarding our physical features, and this is a perfectly normal situation. Some of us may be uncomfortable with our weight, some with our hair color, and some with our height. When it comes to height, it's important to consider and research all factors as we will need to undergo surgical intervention.
At this point, the first thing we need to learn could be the question, “Is there any age limit for limb lengthening surgery?" or "Can height be increased after the age of 40?" In this article we've compiled for you, we will talk about both limb lengthening surgery a bit, and what kind of process awaits those who want to have this surgery at older ages.
Limb lengthening, in other words, height extension is a surgical technique that has existed in the medical world for a long time. Although it was previously performed for extreme cases or leg discrepancies, today it is applied mostly for cosmetic purposes. Gavril Ilizarov, a Soviet doctor who treated injured troops returning from World War II, invented the procedure. While the procedure has changed over the previous 70 years, many of the fundamentals have remained the same. The bone is cut surgically and a metal rod (intramedullary nail) is inserted in the bone canal. There is a variety of surgical methods for performing limb lengthening surgery. Nowadays, the most preferred ones are LON (The Combined Method), Precice, and Stryde (Stryde method is not available right now.)
Age Limit for Limb Lengthening
There is, of course, an age range for limb lengthening surgery. The earliest age for this surgery can be said to be the end of the adolescent period, which, although varies from person to person, averages around the age range of 18-21. The maximum age limit is around 50-55. In this case, we can say that there is no problem for individuals around the age of 40 to have this surgery. However, it should also be remembered that the suitability of each individual for surgery is determined by doctors after the necessary examinations and tests.
In short, although 40 years of age is not a barrier to having surgery, your overall health status, bone health, examinations, and tests are of great importance at this point.
Eligibility for Limb Lengthening Surgery Between Ages 40 and 55
The primary reason for having a maximum age limit in limb lengthening surgery is due to our body slowing down collagen production after a certain age. A slowdown in collagen production means that the formation of new bone within the leg after surgery is either not possible or it would be very slow and challenging. That's why doctors pay very close attention to both bone health and collagen production, especially in individuals of advanced age. However, besides this factor, there are other factors to consider during the surgical process. These factors can be listed as follows:
- Being free from severe chronic diseases,
- Non-smoking status,
- Maintaining a reasonable body weight,
- Psychological preparedness to endure the post-surgery phase (which can be challenging and painful),
- Absence of severe bone deformities.
Preoperative tests required from patients aged between 40 and 55 for Limb Lengthening
Even if you have all the general conditions for the surgery, our doctor would like to make sure that you are suitable for limb lengthening surgery with some examinations to be performed.
For this purpose, some of the following examinations are required before the surgery;
- Orthoroentgenogram: It is required to evaluate anatomic leg length and calculate leg-length discrepancies.
- Blood Test: It is required to assess how well your blood is clotting, find out whether you carry some risk factors for specific diseases such as diabetes, and determine how different organs in your body are working.
- Bone Density Test: It is required to estimate the density of your bones. *(Depending on the doctor’s request)
Distraction osteogenesis in advanced age patients
Unfortunately, the research on this issue lacks a consistent definition of age groups, making direct comparisons of various studies difficult. The progressive stretching of the soft connective tissues in the gap area between two separated bone segments boosts bone repair during distraction osteogenesis. Particularly, mechanical and biological factors are important for the success of the distraction treatment.
Even though limb lengthening is not quite prevalent in the older population, there can be a few challenges affecting the distraction osteogenesis;
- Reduced bone mineral density
- Comorbidities (The condition of having two or more diseases at the same time.)
- Decreased physiologic reserves
In order to avoid such notorious outcomes of posttraumatic injuries, patients must provide the examinations mentioned above before the surgery and convey the results to the doctor for his review.
When it comes to complications after surgery, as with any surgery, there is a possibility of complications arising after limb lengthening surgery. However, at this point, we would like to mention that if you continue with your physical therapies without interruption, have your hygiene and dressings done regularly, and do not skip doctor examinations, the risk of complications is not very high. Also, remember that you should definitely not strain your leg and apply excessive load without your doctor's approval; this situation can lead to complications and injuries. With attention to these situations, the risk of complications is quite low.
If you want to get more detailed information about the possible complications that may occur after surgery, you can check out our article titled “Possible complications after limb lengthening surgery.”
Let’s take a look at some example cases from our patients whose age were over 40;
*The picture below belongs to a 44-year-old patient. He did femur lengthening surgery with Precice 2 and had premature consolidation (fast bone union). Re-osteotomy was performed in order to continue the distraction.
*The picture below belongs to a 41-year-old patient. He did tibia lengthening surgery with LON and had a slow bone union at first. Yet, the doctor treated it with PRP treatment, and new bone tissues were stimulated thanks to it.
*The picture below belongs to a 40-year-old patient. He did tibia lengthening surgery with LON and had neither complication nor problem during the lengthening process.
Distraction osteogenesis plays a significant role after the surgery in terms of bone healing. Even though some research notes that there can be an association between poor regenerate and age, there is not a proven correlation result showing that advanced age patients have the risk of insufficient bone regeneration. Yet, the factors for bone regeneration can be predicted by measuring bone density and getting blood sampling.
Height increase after 40 is possible considering the eligibility of an individual’s biological factors and physical conditions. Limb lengthening is not the most challenging operation, however, it requires proper care and safety in order to achieve the best outcome. Besides, there is a long and exhausting postoperative commitment, and if it is not shown sufficiently, it can jeopardize the whole process. Those who are 40 years old and over should ask themselves whether they desire to do this surgery or not since the post-operative process can be intimidating to go through.
You will be informed about the lengthening increase, lengthening process, the prices of the surgical methods, the difference of the methods, the risks of the surgery.