Why American Men Voluntarily Undergo Limb Lengthening Procedures


The operation – which has been around in one form or another for almost a century – is usually performed on people injured in military service or car accidents. Photo / 123RF

Hundreds of men around the world are choosing to undergo the “sickly” and “life-changing” procedure in a drastic effort to make themselves look taller.

Speaking to Buzzfeed News this week, Los Angeles man Scott (not his real name) explained why he sought out a surgeon who could lengthen his legs permanently.

The operation – which has been around in one form or another for nearly a century – is usually performed on those injured in military service or car accidents, often to correct mismatched leg lengths.

But over the past 15 years it has been increasingly sought after for elective and cosmetic purposes by men frustrated with the way they are treated because of their size.

“It’s become a big part of my practice. It’s the thing that most people are interested in. It’s where I get most of my consultations,” the California-based orthopedic surgeon told Buzzfeed. , Dr Shahab Mahboubian, adding that he had seen a marked increase. in surgery during the pandemic.

Dr. Mahboubian, who performs around 30 to 40 of these surgeries each year – including Scott’s – has become the benchmark for the procedure, boasting more than 45,000 followers on Instagram and another 50,000 on TikTok, where he posts under the @heightlengthening handle.

Although there has been an increase in the number of those seeking the operation electively, he told the publication that he was hesitant to put it in the same category as other cosmetic surgeries – such as a rhinoplasty or breast work, despite pleas from those who have undergone it to perceive it. in this way.

“It’s life changing. It’s really changing people’s lives,” said Dr Mahboubian.

“Their whole outlook on life, the way people view them, the way they feel. It really affects every aspect of their life.”

Prior to Scott’s surgery in January, he was 5’7″ and said he was constantly ridiculed because of his stature.

“I wasn’t treated with respect. In every workplace I’ve been to, there have been several situations where people have commented on my size to completely discredit me as a person,” the young man recalls. 25 years old.

That, coupled with social media and pop culture’s demeaning talk of men of lesser stature being “garden gnomes”, prompted him to seek the $75,000 procedure.

A recent study by the University of Chicago and MIT on “Partner Preferences and Corresponding Outcomes in Online Dating” found that shorter men need to earn more money to be judged as equally attractive as men. taller.

Even the recent celebration of “short kings” online — especially on TikTok — wasn’t enough to change Scott’s mind.

The term – coined by comedian Jaboukie Young-White in a viral tweet from 2018 – made the rounds on the platform last year thanks to a viral trend where women referred to their tall boyfriends as “little kings” and filmed their reactions.

It exposed the “deep-rooted insecurities of tall men,” Laura Pitcher wrote for i-Din in an article earlier this year, but was “then picked up by short men themselves on the app” .

But Scott isn’t buying it.

“It bothers me,” he said, “because if they had the same accomplishments but weren’t short, you’d just say, ‘You’re a king.’ So why are we bringing height? “

And so he looked for the procedure.

“I felt miserable. There were things throughout the day, every day, that bothered me,” Scott said.

“When I realized what was really holding me back was the money hurdle, I thought, ‘Oh, this is just a game. If I can get $75,000, then I’ve I’m done feeling like that.”

An x-ray of a patient's legs before (left) and after (right) surgery, showing the metal rods he was fitted with.  Photo / Dr S Robert Rozbruch
An x-ray of a patient’s legs before (left) and after (right) surgery, showing the metal rods he was fitted with. Photo / Dr S Robert Rozbruch

Before and after: The same post-operative patient.  Dr. Mahboubian describes the procedure as
Before and after: The same post-operative patient. Dr Mahboubian describes the procedure as “life-changing”. Photo/TikTok

The surgery is not for the faint-hearted – while Dr Mahboubian describes it as ‘minimally invasive’, it involves cutting the bones of the leg and then inserting a rod ‘that goes inside the bone’ .

“The rod is magnetic and it has gears. Then there’s an external device that communicates with the nail. And over time, little by little, it lengthens the nail,” he explained.

When asked if the broken bone was the most painful part of the recovery process, he said it caused “swelling around that area, but that goes away after a few days.”

“Then there’s the pain of elongation, which is stretching-like pain,” Dr. Mahboubian added.

“But it’s tolerable because it’s done very slowly.”

For Scott, it was a small price to pay, and after the week-long lengthening process, he is now three inches taller, at 5’10”.

Now he and other men who have voluntarily had the procedure are working to reverse the stigma they face.

“I’m trying to show that, for guys that the operation means a lot to, it should be as accepted as a woman getting her breasts or nose done or something like that,” said Victor Egonu, who animates the Limb Lengthening. Podcast and underwent surgery to equalize the length of his legs after a childhood car accident, Buzzfeed told Buzzfeed.

“If the world can see and not necessarily sympathize, but sympathize with some of the pain these guys may be going through, maybe people can’t judge them for what they’re doing to fix their lives.”

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