A New York man unhappy about his height of five feet six inches decided to do something about it. He paid for a costly and painful surgery to increase his height by a total of six inches.
The 37-year-old man who uses the pseudonym "Apotheosis," because he does not want to give his real name, said: "I realized that the world looked at me a certain way that I didn't look at myself in that certain way. I wanted the way I felt about myself and the way the world felt about me to be similar."
According to ABC News, a "growing" number of men are going through painful cosmetic surgery involving limb-lengthening procedures to improve upon their self-image. Dr. Dror Paley, an orthopaedic surgeon at the Paley Institute at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., has performed 650 leg-lengthening surgeries in the past few years, ABC News reports.
According to Paley, most of his patients have severe deformities including dwarfism, but he is also seeing an increasing number of patients who want the surgical procedure wholly for cosmetic reasons.
According to the website Shortsupport.com, Limb Lengthening surgery, also called Symmetric Extended Limb Lengthening, is a complex process that has traditionally been performed on children to correct disproportionate leg lengths. The procedure has also been used for people with dwarfism. But recently the procedure has been used to give people with Constitutional Short Stature two or three extra inches. The term Constitutional Short Stature, refers to people who are in the bottom fifth percentile of height in their region and do not display any deformities common with dwarfism.
WTOP.com reports surgeons advice that the procedure should not be done by normal people 5 feet 9 inches and over.
According to Paley: "The majority who come for cosmetic limb lengthening have what we call, height dysphoria. They're unhappy with their height." According to Paley, psychotherapy has not been effective in changing the views of most people with height dysphoria. He adds ironically, "It's one of the few psychologic-psychiatric disorders that you can actually cure with the knife."
ABC News reports that Akash Shukla, a New Jersey man, is another American who has undergone the Limb Lightening surgical procedure. Shukla, 25, said he was "devastated" when at the age of 18, he realized he was unlikely to grow much taller that 4 feet 11 inches. He said: "I felt like my short stature was kind of causing a void inside me- an emptiness in my heart, if you will."
Shuklah, through the procedure, added about three inches to his height and he is now about 5 feet 2 inches. He said: "There are people that have said, 'just accept what God gave you.' But, in some way, shape or form everybody is trying to alter what God gave them. If God gave kids crooked teeth, they get braces."
According to ABC News, only a few doctors perform the procedure in the U.S. It involves breaking the leg bone in two and implanting a "telescopic rod" in the middle of the broken bones. The rod pulls the bone apart very slowly at a rate of about 1 millimeter a day. As the rod is pulled apart, new bones and tissue such as nerves, arteries and skin regenerate.
The procedure is expensive at about $85,000, also very lengthy. It takes about three months to complete the procedure. It also requires very physically demanding and painful therapy.
Shortsupport.com explains that it is important to make people who are contemplating undergoing the procedure aware of the pain and discomfort associated with it and to make sure they are mentally prepared. Inflammatory pain medication are not recommended by doctors during the procedure because they may interfere with creation of new bone. According to Shortsupport.com, some medical centers require that patients undergo psychological evaluation to ensure they are able to endure the discomfort of the procedure that may take up to a year for recovery.
ABC News reports Apotheosis is still recovering. He said: "I am still lengthening right now and there could be further complications and I don't want to talk about it successfully until it's been successful."
Apotheosis explains on the MMT ("Make Me Taller) community online forum: "I am not telling anyone they should do this surgery, but I am laying out my experiences and the risks that I have taken and the successes that I have had and let people make their own decision."