What is Limb Lengthening Surgery?
Limb lengthening has been performed successfully for about 50 years in Kurgan, Russia. Also leg lengthening surgery (also referred to as limb lengthening) is a rather radical cosmetic procedure that can make short peoples’ wish to be taller come true. Limb lengthening operations are a growing trend in the field of cosmetic surgery.
Cosmetic limb lengthening is a procedure in which the major bones of legs (either femur or tibia) are surgically cut, then metal fixators are attached to legs, and with the help of these devices, growth of the bones are achieved on a daily basis.
Average daily amount of distraction of bones is 1 mm. In this way, maximum 7-8 cm height gain can be achieved on femurs, or max 6-7 cm on tibia. These are the highest height increase amounts achievable in single procedure, before experiencing permanent soft tissue damage or problems with walking/doing sports. In imperial units, you can get something around 2-3 inches in one procedure.
The cost of one surgery is the same if you choose femurs or tibia, or if you want to increase height by 5 cm or 7 cm (it doesn’t depend on the amount of height increase)
If you are aiming for something between 10-15 cm (4-6 inches), then it is possible to undergo two operations with at least around 3-6 months waiting time between two operations. However, it should be noted that our patients are mostly satisfied with the result of single procedure and there is usually no need for a second limb lengthening operation. Undergoing 2 surgeries will double the costs and total recovery times.
What are the methods of limb lengthening?
This method is used in Turkey by few doctors. Motor-driven Precice intramedullary nails is fitted in the bone. It is not visible from the outside. The bone extension is performed with the help of a remote control. This is one of the most comfortable limb lengthening surgery methods. The only possible drawback of Precice 2.2 version is, patients aren’t allowed to walk, stand or put any weight on their legs during bone lengthening period as it may damage the internal mechanism. Patients have to use wheelchair in this period. When limb lengthening period ends, patients are allowed to walk again.
This method is the most preferred one by our patients because of its reasonable price and early removal of external fixators. Approximately 70-80% of our patients choose this method to grow taller. LON method involves the same external device as in Ilizarov and Holyfix methods, but additionally, there are internal nails implanted into the bone cavity during operation. These nails significantly reduce the time spent in external fixators, thus increasing patient comfort. External devices are removed in 2-4 weeks after lengthening is finished, when there is some consolidation seen on x-rays. It takes 3-4 months depending on height lengthening goals. It is possible to return to normal daily life soon after this 3-4 month period ends. The internal nails hold the bone after externals are removed, till the bones fully consolidate. In 1-1.5 yrs time, when consolidation is adequate, the internal nails can be removed as well. Devices are removed with minor surgery (take approx. 30 mins), and patients recover quickly after that.
Holyfix is fully external method. It is an improvement over Ilizarov. There are rod-like external fixators attached to the legs by means of pins from the outside to the operated bone. The devices are more compact and lighter than Ilizarov frames. Patients turn screws on the device to do daily distraction. This is the cheapest method but the major disadvantage is, patients have to walk, sleep and live with these devices for 9-12 months, till the bones have fully consolidated and are able to carry weight on their own. This long period can be uncomfortable and stressful for many patients.
The Ilizarov Method is a successful orthopaedic surgical technique designed to lengthen or straighten bone and soft tissue, also this method is widely used to treat complex and/or open bone fractures. It is also the first known method of limb lengthening. Nowadays, our doctors almost never use this method for cosmetic (height increase) purposes, because there are more comfortable methods and more compact devices in use.
This is currently the most refined and advanced limb lengthening surgery method available. It is an improved and developed version of Precice 2.2 method. The main advantage is, this method allows walking during bone lengthening period, which is very comfortable for people who want to finish the procedure and return to their work and studies as early as possible. Bone lengthening is performed with the help of internal nails, in a similar fashion to Precice 2.2 method.
For more information, please see: Surgery Methods