Lengthening Legs Was Never So Horrific

June 17, 2008


There are a lot of people out there who wouldn’t mind having a leg up on the competition. In fact, they’d be even happier with two legs up—usually around two or three inches up. Cosmetic limb lengthening (CLL) has become particularly popular in China, where it’s believed a couple of extra inches can do miracles for your career and social life.

The procedure’s medical term is distraction osteogenesis, and the surgery more or less consists of sawing your tibia (shin bone) apart below the knee, then inserting pins into the bone that are attached to an Ilizarov frame that impales skin, muscle and bone. Screws that puncture the bone are turned, creating a daily gap of 1mm that the leg naturally fills each day with new bone tissue.


This is the oldest and commonest of leg lengthening surgeries, though others exist. The intramedullary skeletal kinetic distractor  and fitbone surgery are newer, less dangerous options that are less prone to infection. Having any of these procedures done in the US will usually run you upwards of $100k.

So, if I haven’t enticed you into spending more than a lot of people make in 2 years to have a surgery than is notorious for being one of the most painful and requires up to 2 years of recovery, well, then I guess I can simply chalk it up to my failings as a writer.

I think a lot of pain and anguish and money could be saved if they'd just lower basketball hoops by two or three feet. I mean, seriously. Short people shouldn't be trying to get taller, the world should be trying to get smaller.