A height operation is a surgical leg-lengthening procedure that increases your height even after your growth period is over, and is performed on people who are abnormally short and unhappy with their height. Height operations can lengthen segments of the bone by up to 100 percent. According to the Center of Anthropomedical Cosmetology, you must be between 16 and 60 to undergo the surgery. The operation is controversial, and anyone considering undergoing it must be aware of its possible short-term and long-term side effects, as well as the time commitment involved due to the long recovery period required. An advocacy group called Little People of America has voiced its opposition to the procedure, citing the danger of long-term nerve and vascular damage.
Preparing for the operation
Talk with your doctor and decide on a reasonable number of inches you'd like to add to your height. The average height gain possible is 3 to 6 inchest; more than 6 inches can be unsafe.
Learn about the time frame and side affects of undergoing this operation to make sure you're physically a good candidate for it. Recovery from the surgery requires that you use crutches. You won't be able to use your legs to do things such as driving and walking; you'll need to be dependent on someone to do things and go places. Much depends on how many inches you want to add to your frame. The taller you want to grow, the longer the post-surgery physical therapy will be and the longer you'll be handicapped.
Select your clinic and surgeon with caution by doing research, using recommendations and getting referrals from more than one doctor whom you trust.
Surgery and post-surgery physical therapy
The surgery takes around 45 minutes per leg. You'll be put under anesthesia so you won't feel any pain. During the operation, your surgeon will cut your shin bone and slowly pull the two parts apart. A fixation device is then applied on the outside of the shin. This is a metal brace that keeps your bones separate.
You'll be required to stay in the hospital for two to four days. The bones in your shins will react to the cutting and separation of bones by growing and filling the gap. As new bone tissue grows slowly, the external fixation must be adjusted by the surgeon. Though the external fixation stabilizes your bones somewhat, you'll need to be on crutches after your surgery. Your doctor will make incremental adjustments of the nuts in the fixation apparatus on each leg.
You'll undergo one to two hours of physical therapy every day for two to three months. You're encouraged to go in for follow-up sessions every two weeks during this phase. The average patient takes about a year to a year and a half to fully recover. The recovery time depends on how many inches you hope to grow. It takes around 10 months to grow about 2.8 inches. The maximum growth you can expect to achieve through an increase of height operation is 3.5 inches.
Throughout your post-surgery physical therapy and growth period, you will probably experience inflammation, itching, deceleration, and pain according to the Center of Anthropomedical Cosmetology.
Success rates, risk, and payment
According to cosmcenter.com, complications occur in less than 0.4 percent of all height operations, and these include soft-tissue inflammation and slow bone union. This means the success rate is about 95 percent and surgical complications are infrequent.
An MSNBC article called "Limb lengthening tests human willpower" argues that the increase height operation is extremely painful and should only be undertaken by people with a high pain tolerance who are in good health. Although the operation has never proven fatal, it is still considered a high-risk procedure because not everyone is able to handle the amount of pain they must endure. Rare but possible risks include bone paralysis fat emboli (fat clots) being released into the bloodstream.
According to the Center of Anthropomedical Cosmetology, the cost of the operation is between $15,000 and $30,000, depending on your clinic and its particular service and accommodation conditions.
If you suffer from dwarfism, your insurance company may cover at least some of the cost of your operation. If you don't suffer from dwarfism and you're seeking the operation for cosmetic purposes rather than actual need, your insurance company is not going to fund the fee.