In recent decades, growth surgeries (known as bone lengthening in Spanish and cosmetic lengthening in English) have been performed for many purposes, such as treating dwarfism or correcting congenital skeletal deformities that make daily life impossible for the patient.. Even so, although it is an operation focused on physiological well-being, it is increasingly being performed with other connotations: to achieve an aesthetic ideal.
Men are told that height is a defining trait in modern society because, according to studies, up to 50% of women argue that they do not want a partner who is shorter than they are. Historically, male height has been associated with virility, power and good genetic bearing, which has led to it being valued as an essential aesthetic component for many couples, at least in the public eye.
The dilemma is posed: Is the operation worth it? How ethical are the limits of physical modification in exchange for physiological well-being? Today we tell you everything you need to know about growth surgery, as it raises a very delicate debate of light and shadow.
What is bone lengthening and for whom is it indicated?
First of all, it is necessary to clarify that, although bone lengthening is a procedure that is well known to professionals, it is a a delicate and not risk-free surgery that in no case should be trivialized.. We are not talking about the extraction of a tooth or even liposuction, but about an intentional fracture of the leg bones. If it sounds unpleasant to imagine it, it is because it is really unpleasant to live it.
Thus, almost all the sources consulted agree on the same thing: this surgery should be considered for people who present physiological asymmetries, such as one leg being larger than the other, making it difficult to walk and damaging the patient’s confidence or emotional integrity. Generally, these asymmetries are caused by fractures/infections produced during childhood, which slowed down the development of the affected limb, or are directly caused by congenital defects present at birth.
On the other hand, it is also conceived in patients with dwarfism.a genetic problem that affects one in every 15,000-40,000 people. An individual is considered “pathologically dwarf” when he or she is 1.5 meters tall in the case of men and 1.4 meters tall in the case of women, due to a genetic alteration or lack of development during childhood.
Disproportionate dwarfism can cause a number of everyday problems, including the following:
- Delays in the development of motor skills, such as sitting, crawling or walking.
- Frequent ear infections.
- Bowing of the legs.
- Pressure on the spinal cord at the base of the skull.
It is clear that in a pathological environment such as this, bone lengthening surgery is conceivable, but but it becomes more complicated when we approach this operation as a mere aesthetic adjunct..
Is growth surgery going too far?
We are facing a very painful and difficult operation to manage both emotionally and physically.. Therefore, it is not surprising to learn that pioneering clinics in the United States or Germany usually perform no more than 200 procedures per year for purely aesthetic purposes. The prices, moreover, are around 60,000-230,000 euros (depending on the establishment), so very few people can afford it.
The question to ask is clear: is it worth it? Height may seem like an essential aesthetic component for attracting the opposite sex, but is it really key to individual confidence? Unless you have a pathological asymmetry that hinders your own lifestyle, we are afraid we cannot recommend this operation. If you are still interested in it, read on.
What is the procedure like?
Bone lengthening is based on a relatively simple premise, at least on paper: the ability of bone to regenerate when a fracture occurs. With this physiological reality as a reference, the practitioner performs a controlled fracture of the leg bones (usually tibia/femur) and places an external fixator on the patient, which is attached to the limb.which is attached to the affected limb by means of percutaneous needles (sort of metal pins).
This initial operation takes about 3 hours, requires general anesthesia and the patient must remain hospitalized and monitored for about 5 days. After that, the professional and the individual himself at home must gradually lengthen the prosthesis placed in the fracture (with the help of devices) as the bone heals. The external fixator should be present on the treated limb for about 35-40 days for each centimeter lengthened.
This means that the patient will literally leave the clinic with the bones of the limb divided, which are held in place by the external fixator mentioned above. Gradually, an artificial elongation (1 millimeter per day) will be artificial elongation (1 millimeter per day) which requires continuous medical attention and a rehabilitation program, at the very least slow and costly. The recovery time depends on each patient and the structure modified, since it is very different to fracture the bones of the leg, thigh or arm, for example.
It also depends entirely on how many centimeters you want to lengthen the overall height, adding approximately 35-50 days for each centimeter generated. On average, it is estimated that the treatment lasts at least 3 months, during which kinesitherapy rehabilitation, i.e. treatments based on the movement of the affected area, must also be performed.
Once elongated within the physical limits possible, the lengthening process will be stopped and exercises will be started to allow the previously fractured bone to regain its robustness, function and natural structure. Once the newly synthesized tissue has matured, it will be time to remove the external fixator, with all of the hardware that is required for this purpose.with all the apparatus that this entails.
Several studies with large sample groups have shown that average growth after bone lengthening is 7.2 centimeters (in a range of 5 to 11 centimeters). (ranging from 5 to 11), with an average treatment duration of 9 months (ranging from 7 to 18 months). This means that, after surgery, a person who was previously 5’7″ will be closer to 5’8″ in about a year.
If you find it unpleasant to have a frame with pins going through your leg and to have to manually lengthen your own bones every day, you can imagine the risks of infection and fracture that may occur after the procedure.. According to specialized portals, one of the greatest dangers of this operation is that the insertion area of the percutaneous needles may become infected, which is why it is recommended to soap it thoroughly on a routine basis and to go to the doctor promptly in case of any irregularity.
There are also risks of bone atrophy, bone collapse after removal of the external fixator, deformities in bone growth or too early consolidation of the bone structure. Many of these problems must be addressed surgically, so more days of recovery and more money must be spent for each complication.
A necessary final thought
In addition to all the procedure and inconveniences already mentioned, it is common for patients to have to take painkillers for a certain period of time and suffer from depression and other pathologies clearly associated with the operation. We have described in this page many aesthetic surgeries but, of course, none of them is so inadvisable for the patient, none is as inadvisable for the general population as this one..
Da Vinci’s aesthetic ideal has less and less weight in society, as gender spectrums, body shapes and identities dominate an increasingly inclusive and dogma-breaking culture. We can’t tell you more clearly on this occasion: accepting yourself and loving every characteristic of yourself is the best option and, if this cannot be achieved, there is a base of psychologists and psychiatrists who can help you overcome your insecurities effectively. This will not only help you to accept not being “so tall”, but to love yourself as an individual and unique entity.
Bone lengthening surgery is painful and demanding, both physically and emotionally.both physically and emotionally. As worthwhile as the result may be, seeing oneself with metal external fixators and not being able to walk normally for almost a year can greatly affect the patient’s psychological well-being. Therefore, unless you have a clear physical asymmetry that makes routine impossible or a congenital pathology, it is impossible for us to recommend this procedure. No self-respecting person will discriminate against you because of your height, and if they do, they don’t deserve to be in your life.