When you think of plastic surgery, boob jobs and liposuction are likely some of the first procedures to come to mind. But limb-lengthening surgery is now also an option for people who want to be up to six inches taller.
Plastic surgeon Dr. Kevin Debiparshad founded The LimbplastX Institute in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2018 to create a business centered around limb-lengthening cosmetic surgery. Debiparshad told Insider that since opening The LimbplastX Institute, he's worked with more than 30 people to make them taller.
According to Debiparshad, many patients — surgeons, lawyers, and venture capitalists among them — come to him as "fairly successful people career-wise, but they have feelings of lacking" when it comes to height.
"They think if they can modify this one complaint, it can make their life complete in some way," Debiparshad said, adding that post-surgery they thank him for making their lives better because they feel less insecure.
Most of Debiparshad's patients have been men, he said, but he's also had some women who want to add height to their appearances.
Limb-extending technology has existed for some time
Although lengthening a person's bones for cosmetic purposes is a new concept, the technology and procedure to do just that had existed for nearly 100 years, according to the journal Children's Orthapaedics.
Today, the procedure involves inserting surgical nails and screws into the hollow part of a person's bone, usually in the legs, and slowly extending the nails and screws to train the tissue in the area to permanently stretch.
This procedure is commonly used on patients with leg wounds from military service, car crashes, or other traumatic events, but Debiparshad said he and his mentor Dr. Dror Paley in West Palm Beach, Florida, began using the technique for cosmetic purposes.
Debiparshad is the first-known surgeon to open a practice dedicated to making people taller.
The procedure costs $76,000 and requires two hours of surgery and weeks of physical therapy
If a person wants to add height to their appearance, it comes at a cost — $76,000, to be exact.
At Debiparshad's LimbplastX Institute, that price tag includes the surgery itself, hospital stays following the operation, and two to four weeks of physical therapy, which Debiparshad said is a necessary part of the limb-lengthening process. Airfare to Las Vegas, food, and hotel costs aren't included in the $76,000.
When a patient gets "Limbplastx," as Debiparshad's practice calls the procedure, they're first given a general anesthetic so they're asleep for the entire two-hour procedure.
During that time, Debiparshad breaks the bone in the lower leg, thighbone, or shin area by making a half-inch incision in the skin and then using a small drill to weaken the bone and help it to break in a precise area. Then Debiparshad penetrates the bone with a chiseling tool that's also commonly used in nose job procedures.
Finally, he inserts nails and screws to repair the small break he created. He does this on each leg.
Following surgery, the patient stays in the hospital for one night for basic monitoring and to receive pain medication, blood thinners to prevent blood clots, and muscle relaxers, Debiparshad said.
Each patient is also given an iPad and given instructions to press a button on the device daily, which sends a signal to the implants Debiparshad installed earlier to extend about one millimeter each day. After 25 days of pressing the button, a person will have gained about an inch of extra height, according to Debiparshad.
"Tricking the body into thinking you're growing is basically what this is," Debiparshad said.
After one week recovering, patients can start to walk regularly again and go to physical therapy, which Debiparshad said is necessary to stretch the tissue connected to the bones and help patients regain their full range of motion.
They continue with physical therapy until they've reached their desired height, which can be up to five or six inches taller than their height before the procedure. A year later, Debiparshad removes the screws and nails and the bone and tissue stay permanently stretched from that point forward.
According to Debiparshad, the procedure can cause pain especially during the first week of recovery since it does involve the breaking of bone, but most patients tell him the pain wasn't as bad as they expected it to be. Most patients can walk around the medical facility where they're recovering just a day after surgery.
Buda Mendes/Getty Images
You could lose some athletic ability following surgery
Debiparshad said his Limbplastx procedure also comes with minimal risks outside of those typical for any surgery, like blood clots and pneumonia, because the technique has been used for decades.
Patients who are able to run very quickly could be affected though, because the procedure changes a person's stature.
"You may trade off some athletic ability to get to that end stage," Debiparshad said. "You can walk and go to the gym, but you might not be able to sprint 100 meters in nine seconds," if that's something you could do before surgery.
He believes the technique has the potential to become mainstream like breast augmentations and Botox, two popular cosmetic offerings.
Still, cosmetic surgery isn't a cure-all for feeling physically inadequate, health psychologist Charlotte Markey previously told Insider.
"Self-acceptance is not just about how we look," she said. "Data suggests that cosmetic procedures don't have a lasting effect on people's positive body images nor their general well-being."
broken bone xray