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What Is Limb Lengthening Surgery?

Limb lengthening is an inpatient surgical procedure that uses the patient's soft tissue, blood vessels, and nerves to form new bone to increase the leg length. 

The surgeon will cut the leg bone and place a metal fixator device to increase the gap between the cut bones. Each time the gap increases, your body's soft tissue, and blood vessels will attempt to close the gap; this process will allow new bone to form, leading to limb lengthening. 

Purpose Of Leg-Lengthening Surgery

Most patients seek leg lengthening for cosmetic purposes or because one leg is shorter than the other. But there are other medical conditions:

  • Poliomyelitis 
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Leg-Calve Perthes disease
  • Congenital disabilities
  • Growth plate injury 

Limb Lengthening Procedure Side Effects

Leg lengthening surgery helps to correct significant leg length differences, but like any surgical procedure, it has risks:

  • Bone infection 
  • Poor bone healing
  • Bone growth restriction
  • Nerve damage
  • Injury to surrounding muscles and blood vessels

Limb Lengthening Recovery and Rehabilitation

The recovery period will differ from one patient to another, depending on the procedure's extent. Your age when you undergo the treatment will significantly influence the recovery period. Children are more likely to recover faster, but adult bone healing takes longer.

Also, whether your doctor used an internal or external fixator will affect the recovery period. The use of internal nail fixators makes the process simpler.

You will undergo physical therapy to maintain muscle strength and joint flexibility during your recovery. Your doctor will instruct you to follow a highly nutritious diet, consuming calcium supplements to promote faster bone healing.

It is essential to check your skin color, temperature, and sensation of your foot and toes frequently. It will help monitor any changes to blood vessels, muscles, or nerves as early as possible.

Experiencing full recovery will depend on many factors but without complications, expect to experience complete recovery in eight to twelve weeks.

Eligibility For Cosmetic Leg Lengthening Surgery

The eligibility for leg lengthening surgery will depend on your medical condition rather than the age limit. It is possible to perform leg lengthening surgery on a child patient suffering from dwarfism. 

But the minimum age for cosmetic leg lengthening depends on how much growth plate your body produces. Growth plates are responsible for bone growth, and its productions decrease at the end of puberty between the ages of 17 - 20. 

There is no maximum age limit for limb lengthening surgery. But, your physical strength, general health, bone mineral density, and bone quality are evaluated for limb lengthening surgery at older ages. As bone density and bone quality decrease with aging, it is recommended to have limb lengthening surgery before age 50. 

Leg Lengthening Surgery Success Rate

Leg lengthening surgery has a success rate of 90%.

Alternative Treatments (Leg Lengthening Without Surgery) 

Prosthetic management is an alternative non-invasive treatment to leg lengthening surgery. A prosthesis can be adapted to a malformed limb to improve the patient's mobility.

How It Works

Depending on your case, the surgeon will perform the leg lengthen on the upper part of the leg (femur) or the lower part (shin).  

The surgery has two phases; the first phase is the distraction phase. During the distraction, the surgeon will cut the bone and gradually pull it apart. The goal is to create a gap; the soft tissue and blood vessels surrounding the cut will try to close the gap by creating new tissue and eventually extending the bone length. 

Typically, the surgeon will attempt to increase the gap four times a day. One-quarter millimeter (¼ mm) via an external or internal fixator device, with each adjustment, for a total of 1 mm daily. 

As the space between the cuts expands, the body continues to produce new tissue in the gap until the desired length of bone has been generated. 

During the second phase, the bone consolidates and heals. You will undergo physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and train to walk without assistance. 

What To Expect After Leg Lengthening Treatment 

  • You will stay in the hospital for at least three days to monitor your condition.
  • You will wear a cast on your leg for three to four weeks. 
  • You will start your physical and rehabilitation therapy on the day of the surgery.
  • Expect to use crutches to assist you in walking, and a physical therapist will help you perform your regular activities, like getting out of bed and using the toilet. 
  • You should avoid putting the stress of weights on the treated leg. 
  • Expect to use the crutches for six to eight weeks. 
  • The leg-lengthening process will start immediately after the surgery and will continue for a few days to a week; this phase is called the latency period. 

How To Prepare For Limb Lengthening Procedure

  • Stay active, eat a healthy diet, and stop smoking before the operation to promote optimal healing and a smooth recovery.
  • A week before the procedure, you should stop taking Aspirin and any other medication that causes blood thinning.
  • If you are allergic to drugs, you should inform your surgeon as soon as possible.
  • Consuming any alcoholic beverages can affect anesthesia. So it would be best if you did not take alcohol before surgery.
  • Follow your doctor-prescribed medication that adjusts your current medicines. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Does leg lengthening surgery hurt?

No, you will be under anesthesia during the surgery and not experience any pain. And after the surgery, your doctor will prescribe painkillers to mitigate pain. 

How much taller does leg-lengthening surgery make you?

You can add up to six inches (15 centimeters) to your height.

Can you play sports after limb lengthening?

You can return to normal activities, including sports after the new bone is fully consolidated.

Can I increase height after 25?

After puberty ( 17 - 20), your body will stop producing growth plates responsible for increasing height.

Is leg lengthening surgery safe?

Leg lengthening surgery is safer now compared to the early days the treatment was introduced. Medical advancement makes performing the surgery more manageable and increases its success rate. However all surgical procedures have risks, and complications can happen.

How much does leg lengthening surgery cost in Turkey? 

The average leg lengthening surgery in Turkey starts from $25000. 

Learn more about Limb Lengthening Surgery in Turkey by comparing costs and reviewing the clinics and doctors.

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