Leg Lengthening: Pain Management and Procedure

Some people may not be aware that there is a growing demand for leg lengthening procedures more in the area of increasing height and cosmetic purposes, rather than medical.

Essentially, as a surgical solution for height increase, it is a rather complex process which has a traditional value of helping correct disproportionate leg lengths in children.  In the same manner, it has been previously used to address medical conditions like dwarfism to provide additional height to the person.

leg lengthening

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This means that the leg lengthening procedure has evolved somewhat to provide functional increase in height by an average of two to three inches.  It has likewise served as a viable solution for Constitutional Short Stature.  This references people who belong to the bottom five percent of the population of the region in terms of height.  This does not take into account any physical deformities.

Leg Lengthening: Pain Management

Basically, leg lengthening (cosmetic) procedures can also be referred to as Symmetric Extended Limb Lengthening.  This type of procedure cannot be compared to simpler plastic surgery options because they are inherently complex, costly, require longer recovery time, and can be very painful.

In fact, the recovery period can run anywhere from half a year to a full year depending on the result of the operation.  It is important to note when considering leg lengthening that there can be substantial discomfort and pain. Normally, some healthcare providers would require candidates to submit to a psychological evaluation test to make sure that they are mentally prepared to face the recovery period.

The need for a positive mental attitude during the recovery period of the leg lengthening procedure is anchored on the fact that minimal anti-inflammatory pain medication may be prescribed by some medical professionals.  The reason behind this marginal pain management treatment is that many anti-pain medications can interrupt proper bone creation.

How Leg Lengthening Procedures Increase Height

Majority of the leg lengthening procedures that are being undertaken today represent a variation of the Ilizarov method.  This was a procedure that was designed in 1951 by the Russian physician Gavril Abramovich Ilizarov.  The first medical professionals to perform this type of surgical solution in the United States actually studied in Russia in the 1980s with Dr. Ilizarov.

In opting to use the leg lengthening procedure to increase your height, you must realize that there are four stages that you must go through.  It is extremely important to have an understanding of these stages in order to appropriately evaluate the readiness of the candidate to undergo leg lengthening procedure.  The stages involved in the surgical procedure include:

Preparatory stage

This is where the candidate undergoes initial consultation with a medical professional.  Normally this stage will allow the physician to inform the candidate the different aspects of the operation up to the recovery period.  Other activities that may be undertaken during this stage can include taking of x-rays of the legs as preparation for the custom designed Ilizarov external fixator device for the candidate.

Any psychological evaluation will also be done during this stage.  It is important to determine if the candidate can cope with all the stages of the leg lengthening procedure.  This is essential because it would be quite impossible to stop the procedure midway through.

Surgical stage

Once the candidate has been properly prepped by the physician, the surgical stage can now be scheduled.  The surgery usually breaks the tibia and fibula bones of both lower legs with an external fixator device attached to both half of each severed bone.

Normally, small holes are drilled through the skin of the patient to allow for the attachment of the device using pins or wires.  This is necessary to provide support after the surgery has been completed.

Lengthening stage

This stage of the leg lengthening procedure is also referred to as Distraction.  This stage begins approximately a week after completion of surgery and extends over a period of about two to three months depending on the actual length that needs to be achieved.

The fixator device will undergo a number of adjustments with the distance between the halves of the each bone being increased.  This is done to allow new bone growth to take place in the gap.

The slow process usually allows the screw to be turned about four times a day to reach the 1mm separation target.  There are some external fixator devices that are mounted with motors to perform continuous lengthening until completion of the stage.  Therapy of about two hours should be scheduled for the patient.

The common result at the end of this stage is that two to three inches have been added to the lower legs.  Patients in this stage are usually confined to wheelchairs and are prevented from putting weight on the growing bone.

Strengthening stage

Commonly known as the Consolidation, this stage can last from three to six months.  The patient remains confined to the wheelchair until such time that the new bone has grown significantly stronger allowing it to support the full weight of the patient.  The role of the external fixator device at this stage is to ensure that bones are properly aligned.  The device is no longer adjusted at this stage

The physical therapy during the strengthening stage can be reduced to approximately thrice a week.  When this stage of the leg lengthening procedure is completed, a minor operation will be done to remove the external fixator device.  The physician will determine whether a cast is needed to protect the legs.  Patients usually can walk on their own power at this stage.

There are a number of other developments that are being introduced in terms of leg lengthening.  It does not mean that they are all intended to help increase the height of people.  Keep all these factors in mind before deciding on any leg lengthening

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