According to Dr. Shahab Mahboubian, the number of men wanting leg-lengthening surgery to add a few inches to their height is growing in popularity.
Mahboubian told NBC News that leg-lengthening surgery, which costs between $75,000 to $170,000, has been requested by men twice as often now compared to the number three years ago.
At the Height Lengthening Institute in Burbank, California where Dr. Shahab Mahboubian operates, even older men are seeking the surgery.
“I even have 60-, 65-year-old guys that have come to me to undergo the procedure because it just doesn’t stop. The ‘short’ jokes keep going on and they feel inferior,” Dr. Mahboubian told NBC News.
The procedure, called “distraction,” involves cutting the bones in a person’s legs, inserting an orthopedic lengthening device (magnetic rods and pins), and attaching external fixators.
Then, using a remote control is used to stretch the leg over a period of several months. The rods are lengthened by up to 1 millimeter per day as new bone grows over the rods.
Several months of physical therapy is required before the patient can walk normally again without a walker, crutches or a cane.
Once the leg-lengthening process is complete, the rods are removed from the legs.
Dr. Mahboubian says he expects to perform 50 such leg-lengthening procedures this year. Two years ago the number was 20.
According to Dr. S. Robert Rozbruch, chief of the limb lengthening and complex reconstruction service at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, leg-lengthening surgery does come with the risk of nerve injury and a loss of range of motion, but it is safe as long as it’s performed by experienced surgeons.
“Limb lengthening surgery can be done safely and effectively in both children and adults–including those in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and even 60s,” he said.
As one 26-year-old who suffered from body image issues and got the surgery to grow from 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-10 put it, “If all it is, is pain and money, alright [then it’s worth it].”