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What Is Leg Lengthening?

Updated on July 6, 2012
An X-Ray showing legs in the process of being lengthened
An X-Ray showing legs in the process of being lengthened

Leg lengthening surgery (also referred to as limb lengthening surgery) is a surgical solution designed to add length to the patients legs. It is a (literally) drawn-out process and is used for a variety of reasons.

How leg lengthening surgery works

The procedure for leg lengthening can vary depending on the amount of height required, the age of the patient and the reason for the leg lengthening. However, each way follows the same general procedure and is not for those with a weak stomach.

  1. 'Pins' are inserted deep into the bone. This can be above the knee, below the knee or sometimes both, and the pins can vary in size depending on the kind of leg lengthening surgery being undertaken.
  2. A rail is fixed to each of the pins. Throughout the rest of the procedure this will serve as artificial bone which will allow the patient the use of their legs. It also allows the pins to slide up and down in a controlled manner, for the 'lengthening' part of the procedure.
  3. The leg is broken in half. This is a clean 'snap' which is conducted by professional surgeons who apply intense pressure to specific points on the leg.
  4. Each day the bones are eased further apart. This is usually done by adjusting a key or a nut attached to the rail, and is usually a small distance such as 1mm per day
  5. The bones are left to set. The gap which has been extended to the desired additional height is now left with the pins and rail in place until the bone has regrown and set.

Other Articles Related To Leg Lengthening Surgery By The Same Author

Why people opt to have their leg(s) surgically lengthened

For many, it can be a cosmetic reason - simply desiring additional height because they are considerably below average.

Another common reason for leg lengthening surgery is in the event of one leg being considerably shorter than the other. In this case, only one of the legs will be lengthened until it meets the same length as the other.

Leg lengthening variations

The rails on which the pins are attached are often substituted for entire cages, depending on the complexity of the surgery required.

In my own personal example, part way through my childhood leg lengthening surgery the rails were replaced with cages to correct the direction of the lower leg which was being extended at an incorrect angle.

Limb lengthening surgery can be performed in the same way for arms.

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    • Pamela-anne profile image

      Pamela-anne 5 years ago from Miller Lake

      I must say you where a brave young boy to go through this ordeal as you did but thank god the end result was good. take care pam.