Leg-lengthening: The men who have their legs broken so they can be taller


Small men can often be left feeling short-changed in life, with dating apps making their chances of finding love seem a tall order.

But thousands are now turning to a painful treatment that promises to change their fortunes forever, if they’re willing to pay up to £240,000.

Surgeons in the US and Turkey are offering life-changing cosmetic surgery that can add up to six inches to someone’s height. 

Some men claim to have done it to improve their success in online dating. Sub-5ft women say they also had the surgery because they were fed up being treated like children.

The practice involves breaking both legs.

Screws are then drilled into either end of each femur or tibia, depending on which bone was purposely snapped. 

The bone is slowly teased apart using magnets to turn the screws, activating a telescopic rod between them that lengthens.

While this is happening, the fracture heals naturally, resulting in a longer bone. 

But the procedure, which can take several weeks to achieve the desired effect, can leave patients in agony and wheelchair-bound during the process, with months of physiotherapy needed afterwards. 

And some who had surgeries before 2021 may now be suffering with abnormalities in the tissues around the bone because of the type of steel used in the process, legal experts claim.

Despite the fears around safety, several clinics offering similar treatments in the UK are reporting a surge in enquiries in the past year. 

NuVasive Precice 2 nails work by breaking at least two leg bones in half. Nails are then drilled into either end of each femur or tibia, which is slowly teased apart with magnets over weeks while it heals naturally, resulting in a longer bone. But it can leave patients in agony and wheelchair-bound during the process, with months of physiotherapy needed afterwards

Then: Before the cutting-edge procedure, Alfonso stood at 5ft 11

Now: After the surgery, Alfonso stands at 6ft 1, having grown by two inches as a result of the cutting-edge procedure

Then and now: After the surgery, Alfonso Flores, 28, from Dallas, Texas, stands at 6ft 1, having grown by two inches as a result of a cutting-edge procedure

Before and after: Now measuring just over 5ft 10 in after previously being 5ft 7in, Daniel Asadi said that he would do it all again in a heartbeat

Before and after: Now measuring just over 5ft 10 in after previously being 5ft 7in, Daniel Asadi said that he would do it all again in a heartbeat

Man undergoes cosmetic limb-lengthening surgery to increase his height from 5ft11 to 6ft1 

A man has undergone cosmetic limb-lengthening surgery to increase his height from 5ft 11 to 6ft 1 to be more like the basketball heroes he grew up with. 

Alfonso Flores, 28, from Dallas, Texas, said that he had wanted to be taller from the age of 12 but his family and friends had all warned him against the ‘unnecessary’ treatment.

The freelance writer and pre-med student persevered with the surgery under the care of Harvard-trained orthopedic surgeon Dr Kevin Debiparshad of The LimbplastX Institute in Las Vegas.

Seven months after the surgery, he said it feels great to say he has finally achieved his dream of topping 6ft.

Speaking about his motivations, Alfonso told FEMAIL: ‘I know 5’11 is a great height, and many people would love to be that tall, but I wanted just a little more than that. 

‘This is something that I’ve really wanted to do as far as I can remember – since I was 12. 

He continued: ‘I decided to go for 6’1 because I started off at a great height and wanted to retain as much of my athletic ability and range of motion as possible. 

‘I seem to have retained all of it because I am able to squat the same as before.’ 

Official data is not kept on how many leg-lengthening procedures are carried out across the world.

But Victor Egonu, a health clinic manager in Baltimore that runs a YouTube channel on leg lengthening, estimates thousands are carried out every year. 

The surgery was first developed in the early 1950s as a means of treating injuries to soldiers by Soviet doctor Gavriil Ilizarov.

It used external, round frames that were drilled into the bone, which could extend and straighten the legs.

The process works in a similar way to the internal magnet technique, except the telescopic rods are outside the body and can be extended by turning the screws manually. 

Italian doctors learnt of the technique decades later and it was first used in the UK in 1989.

Similar surgeries using fixed external braces are still available for people with bone deformities or injuries on the NHS at specialist hospitals today. But only private clinics will offer it for cosmetic reasons.

Israeli orthopaedic surgeon Dr Dror Paley studied the technique in the 1980s under Russian and Italian doctors and started practicing in Canada in 1987 and later the US.

He had his first cosmetic client — a man wanting to be taller — in 1988 and went on to help develop the precice nail in 2011, which uses the magnetic technique.

The devices are now owned by California-based medical devices company NuVasive, which launched the Precice Stryde nail in 2018.

Stryde works almost identically to its earlier incarnation, except for its use of stainless steel, which is strong enough to allows patients to put weight on it and walk during the lengthening phase. 

However, NuVasive issued an urgent recall of Stryde nails after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) flagged concerns about its biocompatibility in 2021.

Patients said they were experiencing pain because of the nail and changes to the tissue around the bone.

The FDA urged health care providers to monitor patients who may be affected. 

Other leg-lengthening procedures can also come with a range of dangerous complications, including joint dislocation, blood clots and a fatal condition caused by oil coming out the rod ends ending up in the lungs.

Private clinics advertising the treatment and original Precice nails in the UK, including the Schoen Clinic in London, took them off their books that year.

However, newer Precice 2 devices made by the company are still offered in the US. 

Dr Paley charges up to $275,000 (£240,000) the Precice 2 on both femurs and shinbones over a two-year package at his Paley Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida.

But surgeries can cost around £70,000 for extension of both femurs in the UK and around half of that in Turkey. 

Alfonso Flores, 28, from Dallas, Texas, had a similar surgery to increase his height from 5ft 11in to 6ft 1in to be more like his basketball heroes in 2020.

The freelance writer and pre-med student was operated on by Harvard-trained orthopedic surgeon Dr Kevin Debiparshad of The LimbplastX Institute in Las Vegas.

Dr Debiparshad’s website states that the surgeries start at $75,000 (£66,000) for a femur-lengthening procedure, which is what Mr Flores had done. 

After seven months of being at the height, he says that it feels great to say he has finally achieved his dream of topping 6ft.

Speaking about his motivations, he told FEMAIL: ‘I know 5’11 is a great height, and many people would love to be that tall, but I wanted just a little more than that. 

‘This is something that I’ve really wanted to do as far as I can remember – since I was 12. 

He added: ‘I decided to go for 6’1 because I started off at a great height and wanted to retain as much of my athletic ability and range of motion as possible. 

‘I seem to have retained all of it because I am able to squat the same as before.’

Meanwhile Daniel Asadi, 26, opted to go for the surgery last year, having previously stood at 5ft 7in.

Mr Asadi, a civil engineer from Toronto, was told he had stopped growing at the age of 14 and was left devastated by the news.

He was labelled a ‘fat kid’ in his youth and tried counselling to get over his self-consciousness, to no avail.

But 11 years later, he decided to spend around £17,000 on surgery in Turkey to make him 5ft 10in and says he hasn’t looked back since.

He told the Daily Mail: ‘Making a decision to have your legs broken seems nonsensical to many people.

‘But for me, my life depended on it. It was all I could think of and I was willing to do anything for it.’ 

One father, who did not want to be named, said he is worried about his son, who wants to get the surgery to improve his chances on dating apps.

He said social media has put pressure on young men to want to look perfect, pushing them towards dangerous procedures.

The father told The Guardian: ‘He says that nobody takes you seriously if you’re small, and that girls don’t like you. 

‘Kids want chiselled chins, no spots, awesome hair and to be 6ft 1in. But it’s the height thing that really seems to be big for him and his friends. 

‘When they’re chatting online to girls, the first question they get after being asked for a photo is: “How tall are you?”.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk