Limb lengthening is a surgery that can lessen or fix differences in the length of a person’s limbs. The process makes a patient’s arm or leg bone longer while also stretching the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around it.
Limb extension takes a lot of time and energy from both the patient and their family. It’s important to know everything about the process, any possible problems, and other treatment options so you can decide which one is best for your child and for you.
How Does Limb Lengthening Work?
The body’s natural ability to make new bone is used in limb growth. The process takes place in three stages: surgery, distraction, and consolidation.
Stage one: Surgery
In the first step, the bone that needs to be extended is cut. This is done in a very specific way to keep blood flow and other cellular processes going that help bones heal.
The surgeon attaches a limb-lengthening device to the limb once the bone has been severed. In the next step, a hole will be made in the bone with this tool.
After this surgery, most people stay in the hospital for at least one night. After their limb has rested for a week to ten days, the second stage typically commences.
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Stage two: Distraction (lengthening)
During the second stage, the two ends of the bone are progressively separated, causing new bone to grow and fill the space created by the lengthening. Most of the time, this step takes up to two months.
The surgeon or another member of the medical team will show the family how to make small adjustments to the gadget several times a day. The gadget will then be lengthened at home by a family member or the patient.
During this time, the surgical team will keep a close eye on the bone and the muscles, tissues, and nerves close to it. If they see any sign of a possible problem, they may decide to stop the process or change how slowly or quickly the bone is stretched.
Stage three: Consolidation (healing)
Once the expected length of the limb has been reached, the body’s natural healing process keeps making new bone to fill in the gap. In the meantime, the nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the bone respond to the new length.
During the second and third phases, physical or occupational therapy is essential for maintaining the mobility of the joints and muscles surrounding the growing bone.
Is limb lengthening surgery risky?
Patients who have their limbs lengthened run the chance of nerve damage, muscle damage, joint contracture, joint dislocation, and arthritis.
How much taller does leg lengthening surgery make you?
Usually, this set of treatments includes a number of surgeries, a long time to heal, and a number of risks. However, it can extend the limb by up to 6 inches (15 centimeters). The surgery is done under general anesthesia.
What is the success rate of limb lengthening surgery?
Overall, about 95% of Limb lengthening surgeries are successful. Most surgeries only require small cuts, so scarring is generally not too bad. Even though pins and stiffness in the joints can cause small problems, big problems are not common after limb lengthening surgery.
How long does limb lengthening last?
When will my surgeon remove my limb-lengthening device? Most of the time, you have to wear the device for three months for every inch of bone growth. You would wear the device for about six months to grow your bones by two inches.
How painful is leg lengthening?
Most people don’t feel pain during stretching, but your child’s muscles may feel sore or tight. Depending on how old your child is, physical therapy or occupational therapy will help stretch the tissues in the leg and keep the joints moving.