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Home TECH Tech industry professionals are paying up to $120,000 to lengthen their legs

Tech industry professionals are paying up to $120,000 to lengthen their legs

What the hell?! How much would you pay to be three inches taller? $75,000? For some, that’s a fair price to pay to increase their height. Interestingly, technology industry professionals make up a good portion of the patients who request this expensive and excruciating surgery. Really worth it? I guess it depends on your perspective, but after reviewing the details, I’m not convinced.

There has been a recent rise in a rare form of cosmetic surgery that adds a few inches to a patient’s height. dr Kevin Debiparshad, one of the few doctors who makes procedure in the US, he claims he gets up to 50 new patients a month who want to be a little taller. Interestingly, a large number of them work in the tech industry.

“I joke that I could open a technology company. I have like 20 software engineers doing this procedure right now who are here in Las Vegas,” Debiparshad told GQ. “There was a girl yesterday from PayPal. I have patients from Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft. I’ve had several patients from Microsoft.”

The reason so many technicians seek the operation could come down to the fact that they have a lot of money but not enough self-esteem.

Prices range from $70,000 to $100,000 for the initial procedure, which involves cutting both femurs (thigh bones) and inserting a large titanium nail between the broken bone. The rods gradually lengthen by one millimeter per day for three months. After that, the surgeon removes the screws, a procedure that costs an additional $14,000 to $20,000. The result is an increase of up to three inches in height.

It’s not just a high price tag that people need to consider. Some patients opt for an additional three inches when performing the procedure on their tibias. However, at what point does a person start to look weirdly abnormal when he just lengthens his legs? Even after a few inches, the bodies look strangely disproportionate.

Another drawback is that the operation essentially paralyzes patients for up to three months. During that time, the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels slowly stretch, causing extreme pain. Strong pain relievers treat that problem, but some patients worry about addiction. So this is not something anyone wants to go into lightly.

In fact, leg lengthening was not always considered a cosmetic operation. A Soviet orthopedic surgeon named Gavriil Ilizarov developed the procedure in the 1950s to treat abnormalities such as unequal leg lengths and complex fractures. It was generally considered medically necessary.

It was also much more invasive. Essentially, doctors would break the leg and then, instead of attaching it, put a medieval-looking scaffolding on the leg called an Ilizarov framework. Pins were driven into the brace and affixed to the bone keeping the leg in alignment but with the break far enough apart to allow new bone to grow into the gap. Patients used to be bedridden for months, but eventually had smooth legs.

Some surgeons still practice the Ilizarov procedure. However, the alternative way that Dr. Debiparshad and others use is relatively new, having been developed only in the last five years. It has advantages over using an Ilizarov frame, the most obvious being the elimination of creating more wounds than necessary. Since all the mechanisms are inside the leg and are magnetically adjusted, there is less chance of infection from open sores caused by Ilizarov frame pins.

Doctors continue to work on the process to make it faster and easier for the patient. Between 2019 and 2021, they used a stainless steel nail instead of titanium. Steel was stiffer and allowed patients to walk on it. However, they were withdrawn when it was discovered that the possibility of corrosion existed. dr Debiparshad says a new nail is awaiting FDA approval and should be available in 2023.

Header credit: Ellipse2016

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