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When I Grow Up, I Want To Be a Giant (Part 2)

Posted June 23, 2008 12:00 AM by Sharkles

In part 1 of this article, I talked about the Ilizarov Method of leg lengthening. This section talks about the second type of surgery offered at the Betz Institute in Germany.

The Betz Institute Procedure

There are six steps to reaching new heights at the Betz Institute: consultation, surgery, hospitalization, lengthening, consolidation, and removal of the device. Much like the preparation stages in the Ilizarov method, the consultation stage at Betz is for an explanation of all aspects of the procedure, a discussion of internal/external lengthening, and to have both X-rays and a physical evaluation.

The surgery at the Betz Institute takes about 4 ½ hours. A small skin incision is made at the head of the femur or tibia. The bone is then cut from the inside with a special intramedullary saw that is inserted through the incision for minimal scarring. A nail is is also inserted through this incision. Once inserted, the nail is secured with interlocking screws at both ends of the bone. After surgery, the patient stays at the Institute for 6 - 10 days for physical therapy that consists of light stretching, strength training, and massage therapy. Before being released from the hospital, the patient is taught how to use crutches properly.

Lengthening begins on the third or fourth day after surgery. As with the Ilizarov method, the bone grows at about 1 mm a day. X-rays are scheduled for every 4 - 5 weeks, and physical therapy 2 - 4 times a week. Once the desired length is achieved, consolidation begins. First, X-rays are used to determine the amount of calcium present in the bone. This process can take about 6-8 weeks. The final stage, removal of the device, involves removing the nail a year or two after lengthening. Typically, this is an outpatient procedure. Patients are able to resume normal activity between the end of consolidation and device removal.

How Far Would You Go?
It has been estimated that around 4,000 people have undergone this risky and painful surgery. It is increasingly popular, especially for "medical tourists" who go to countries like Brazil, China, and Egypt where surgeries are often cheaper. Is paying upwards of $100,000 worth an extra couple of inches? For people with medical conditions, I can understand why this is necessary; however, from a purely cosmetic perspective, I can't understand the reasoning. But I can say that writing this article made me cringe many, many times!

So what do you think?

  • What is wrong with being "short"?
  • Do you feel that "tall" people are more advantaged?
  • Is the "beauty" industry getting out of control?

Resources:

http://www.boingboing.net/2008/06/17/elective-surgery-to.html

http://www.shortsupport.org/Health/Leg-Lengthening/procedure.html

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Power-User
United States - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Biomedical Engineering - Biology, the most elegant Engineering Popular Science - Biology - New Member

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#1

Re: When I Grow Up, I Want To Be a Giant (Part 2)

06/23/2008 10:18 AM

Crinnnnnnnnge! I'm with you I would find it hard to have this surgery just for "cosmetic" reasons. I went through LASIK eye surgery which some would argue is also purely cosmetic so I've been through the improved life style versus risk thought process for myself. LASIK also has a high cringe factor for many people. But LASIK risk factors are very low < 1% when compared to this surgery which one of your references says there is a 25% risk of complications which seems very high to me. Despite the high cringe factor I bet that as they perfect this surgery and lower the risk we'll hear about more and more people going through it.

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Guru
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#2

Re: When I Grow Up, I Want To Be a Giant (Part 2)

06/25/2008 8:27 AM

I'm feeling pain in my bones just thinking about it.

My right leg is an inch longer than my left. The first time I noticed it was when I was 8 or 9 years old. My friend was looking, giving me a curious look, and remarked that I was standing crooked. I looked in the mirror and he was right. My right waist was higher than my left and I was leaning towards the left though I felt I was standing straight.

Through the years, I learned to live with it and it gave me no major problems. Everytime I posed for a photograph, however, my stance was very noticable.

I've thought of having surgery to lengthen my left leg (never considered having my right shortened, for obvious reasons). I knew how it's done, basically. I just didn't know the name for the procedures. I also knew that it would be painful and will take a loooong time to heal. That's what kept me from going ahead with it. That and the expense, of course.

What's wrong with being short? I'm all of 1520 millimeters. Somehow the large number hides the fact that I'm only 5 feet tall. My eldest daughter (13) is now about an inch less than I am and still growing. The top of my 9-year-old son's head is a little less than a foot from mine. I've resigned myself to looking up to them by the time I retire.

Do I feel that "tall" people are more advantaged? That depends. There were times where I was the only one who could fit into the walk-in electrical panel.

Is the "beauty" industry getting out of control? As an instrumentation and controls technician, I always try to make sure that very process is under control. Beauty, however, is one of those uncontrollable ones.

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Anonymous Poster
#3
In reply to #2

Re: When I Grow Up, I Want To Be a Giant (Part 2)

05/06/2009 2:59 AM

LASIK lol, that's barely a surgery. I did PKR last year, but there's very little risk to that. Worst case they screw up, then you just go back and do it again. As a 5'7" male, I am considering this surgery and have talked to 2 people who are currently lengthening at the Betz institute. Consider this: You will not be discriminated based on how well you can see (unless you want to want to be a lifeguard, pilot, or maybe surgeon). However, you will be discriminated against for not being tall enough, most notably it will impact your dating pool and in some cases your career. So the rewards might be proportional to the risks depending on your starting height. A better improvement looks like is might be on the way:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090415074843.htm

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Guru
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#4
In reply to #3

Re: When I Grow Up, I Want To Be a Giant (Part 2)

05/06/2009 11:15 PM

As a married man, I have been out of the dating pool for 16 years so that's not much of a problem .

For my career, it hasn't mattered much except in those cases where I needed a step ladder when my mates just needed to reach up .

Finally, at 47.67 years, I'm too old for height-increasing surgery. Besides, if I add length to my legs to my desired height (around 5'6" to 5'7"), I would look rather odd with long legs and a short body .

I'll check out the website later.

regards,

Vulcan

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