Tech industry professionals are paying up to $120,000 to have their legs lengthened

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,581   +1,075
Staff member
WTF?! How much would you pay to be three inches taller? $75,000? To some, that's a fair price to increase their stature. Interestingly, tech industry professionals make up a good portion of the patients requesting this expensive and excruciating surgery. Is it really worth it? I suppose it depends on your perspective, but after reviewing the details, I'm not sold.

There has been a recent surge in an uncommon form of cosmetic surgery that adds a few inches to the patient's height. Dr. Kevin Debiparshad, one of the few doctors who performs the procedure in the US, claims he has up to 50 new patients per month wanting to be a little bit taller. Oddly, a large number of them work in the tech industry.

"I joke that I could open a tech company. I got, like, 20 software engineers doing this procedure right now who are here in Vegas," Debiparshad told GQ. "There was a girl yesterday from PayPal. I've got patients from Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft. I've had multiple patients from Microsoft."

The reason for so many techies seeking the operation might boil down to them having plenty of money but not enough self-esteem.

Prices range from $70,000 to $100,000 for the initial procedure, which involves severing both femurs (thigh bones) and inserting a large titanium nail between the broken bone. The rods are gradually extended one millimeter per day for three months. After that, the surgeon removes the screws, a procedure which costs an additional $14,000 to $20,000. The result is an increase of up to three inches in height.

It's not just a high price tag that people have to consider. Some patients opt for an additional three inches by getting the procedure done on their tibias. However, at what point does a person start looking freakishly abnormal when only lengthening their legs? Even after a few inches, bodies look oddly disproportional.

Another downside is that the operation essentially cripples patients for up to three months. During that time, the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels are slowly stretched, causing extreme pain. Strong painkillers deal with that problem, but some patients worry about addiction. So this isn't something anyone would want to enter into lightly.

In fact, leg lengthening wasn't always considered a cosmetic operation. A Soviet orthopedic surgeon named Gavriil Ilizarov developed the procedure in the 1950s to treat abnormalities like uneven leg lengths and complex fractures. It was generally considered medically necessary.

It was also much more invasive. Essentially the doctors would break the leg, and then instead of setting it, they attached a medieval-looking scaffolding to the leg called an Ilizarov apparatus or frame. Pins on the brace were driven into and affixed to the bone holding the leg in alignment but with the break separated enough to allow new bone to grow into the gap. Patients were usually bedridden for months but had even legs in the end.

Some surgeons still practice the Ilizarov procedure. However, the alternate form that Dr. Debiparshad and others use is relatively new, having been developed only in the last five years. It has advantages over using an Ilizarov frame, the most obvious being the elimination of creating more wounds than necessary. Since all the mechanics are within the leg and are adjusted magnetically, there is less chance of infections from the gaping sores caused by the Ilizarov frame's pins.

Doctors continue working on the process to make it quicker and easier for the patient. Between 2019 and 2021, they used a stainless steel nail instead of titanium. The steel was more rigid and allowed patients to walk on it. However, they were recalled when it was found there was a chance of corrosion. Dr. Debiparshad says a new nail is awaiting FDA approval and should be available in 2023.

Masthead credit: Ellipse2016

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Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,554   +2,843
I have heard of this surgery many years ago, and the risks seem pretty extreme. Infections are common from what I have read. Complications abound.

I think you would have to be very insecure to have this done, and if you're paying for it then you're hardly doing badly financially so it isn't like your life is some sort of disaster. I can't understand it at all but then I'm a perfectly happy six foot five. For men it can probably feel like some sort of severe social disadvantage if you're shorter than average. I always got that impression from many short guys. Still, this is a really extreme step to take.
 

TheBigT42

Posts: 675   +709
I have heard of this surgery many years ago, and the risks seem pretty extreme. Infections are common from what I have read. Complications abound.

I think you would have to be very insecure to have this done, and if you're paying for it then you're hardly doing badly financially so it isn't like your life is some sort of disaster. I can't understand it at all but then I'm a perfectly happy six foot five. For men it can probably feel like some sort of severe social disadvantage if you're shorter than average. I always got that impression from many short guys. Still, this is a really extreme step to take.
I am 6 foot but only have 30 inch legs. I would be 6' 2'' with proportional length legs but it isn't worth the pain. I had 3 vertebra fused and that was about as much pain as I care to ever experience.
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,581   +1,075
Staff member
Well maybe brain sees what it wants to see 3 inches, 3rd leg extra inches?

I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller
I wish I had a girl who looked good, I would call her
I wish I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat
And a six-four Impala
I so wanted to embed that video into the story. XD

But I'm with everybody else. I'm 6'2", so don't really need to be any taller, but even if I was short, and money was no object -- three months of extreme pain and not being able to get around???

As @Uncle Al would say: NO SALE!
 

VitalyT

Posts: 6,358   +7,080
Gattaca all over.

legs.png
 

WhiteLeaff

Posts: 38   +37
This is scary... Im not tall(174cm), but I wouldn't pay a penny for it, spending almost a year suffering to be a few cm taller, at the end of the day it doesn't improve my life at all. Maybe it's worth it for someone who is abnormally short.. idk.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 1,212   +879
It's not just teenage girls feeling pressure any more - you can see it across all the young people .
Societies fake mirrors, filters , photoshop ,adverts etc etc .
I have wondered about mirrors themselves = they make us self conscious .
You see toothless smiles in remote places - how many would smile in your town ?

yet most of us finally get to the stage - I don't give a .....- well we still do ( but just enough )

It's also chicken and egg - Confidence is attractive ( if I was 2 inches taller , my teeth whiter than a bleached white shirt in UV rays ) I would be more confident.

Oh well work from home is at the answer :)
 

Hollow

Posts: 55   +55
I had a motorbike accident and broke my femur at knee level when I was 16, worse pain ever, nurse couldn't give me morphine anymore and it still felt like a 9.5 out of 10 pain. Hurts like hitting your knee on a rock really hard leaving you in a fetal position for 15 to 30 seconds except the pain doesn't go down at all until 10 days later.
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 764   +1,204
As a shorter programmer myself, I can explain the thinking behind it, but I’d never do it myself. Programmers are already socially awkward and your height effectively limits the pool of women you could possibly date. Very few women want to date men who are shorter than them. A lot of women won’t even date men their height. That’s primarily why, it doesn’t have to do with other guys being taller or probably even self-esteem. Imagine being a guy who’s 5’4 or something, that means that regardless of anything else you might change, more than half of women will always have no attraction to you.
 

brucek

Posts: 1,212   +1,765
90% of all male executives and 40% of female ones are in the top 20% for height within their ethnicity. Being taller has always been a huge advantage for those with leadership aspirations.
Exactly. And I'd bet educated tech professionals are precisely the sort who were likely to learn, process, and calculate cost/benefits related to these studies.

That being said, those studies accrue those benefits to people who were born that way, including having grown up and formed their personalities around being taller; who didn't take on any health risks from an invasive and uncommon procedure; and who looked natural as opposed to whatever this procedure does. I'm skeptical on the net benefits once you figure those extra tidbits in.

Is anyone in the NBA getting this surgery? Because that's where the risks really might be worth it, assuming the completed procedure is rock solid and doesn't leave the player any more fragile than they were before.
 

Icysoul

Posts: 43   +16
As a shorter programmer myself, I can explain the thinking behind it, but I’d never do it myself. Programmers are already socially awkward and your height effectively limits the pool of women you could possibly date. Very few women want to date men who are shorter than them. A lot of women won’t even date men their height. That’s primarily why, it doesn’t have to do with other guys being taller or probably even self-esteem. Imagine being a guy who’s 5’4 or something, that means that regardless of anything else you might change, more than half of women will always have no attraction to you.
Yup, my wife confirmed this.
But honestly, being the tallest in my family didn't bring much benefit: "Can you clean that area there, please, you're taller!" or "Can you reach up there, please, and hand me that 2 tonnes suitcase?".
Not saying I would undergo a surgery to get shorter and not really complaining about being tall - just saying that every height has its perks and people should learn to see them.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,827   +1,895
90% of all male executives and 40% of female ones are in the top 20% for height within their ethnicity. Being taller has always been a huge advantage for those with leadership aspirations.
Certainly this procedure, painful though it may be, is less revolting than the far more common one of injecting fat or collagen into your face for cosmetic purposes.