Leg lengthening is a cosmetic procedure designed to give patients a few extra inches of height. It was originally intended to correct childhood leg length abnormalities and to aid victims of dwarfism. Recently, physicians have been implementing the surgery to add height for individuals of Constitutional Short Stature (those who are in the bottom fifth percentile of height in their region and display no deformities common with dwarfism).
A leg lengthening surgery is much more complex, costly, and painful than most other cosmetic procedures. In fact, very few doctors offer this surgery, and those that do typically require that patients go through a psychological evaluation prior to the surgery as a means of determining whether or not the patient is capable of coping with the mental aspect of the recovery process.
The basic leg lengthening procedure is constituted of four stages:
Following the completion of these stages, the patient will begin to regain leg function.
The biggest concern for patients undergoing a leg lengthening procedure is the possibility of infection at the sites where the pins enter the skin. Regular cleaning is crucial; however, even with proper cleaning, a 25% chance of infection still exists. This percentage is relatively high when compared to other cosmetic procedures. Other risks may include:
With so many risks and chronic pain involved in this procedure, it’s easy to see why it would be controversial. Until further advances are made in the field, most prospective leg extension surgery patients are advised to consider this option with extreme caution. As of now, no surgeons in the Plastic Surgery Portal network offer leg extension surgery.