The Gruesome Surgery To Make You Taller

“All right, everybody line up alphabetically according to your height.” —Casey Stengel

In A Nutshell

One of the most radical forms of plastic surgery, there’s only one way to make someone permanently taller—by breaking bones in the legs, forcing them apart, and allowing them to heal a certain way over an extended time period.

The Whole Bushel

In the 1998 science fiction film Gattaca, a character undergoes a medical procedure to make him taller. Bones in his legs are broken, and his legs are painfully stretched and placed in braces to allow the bones to heal back together longer than they were before. Amazingly, though there’s no evidence this had been tried at the time—and the healing time is obviously longer than portrayed in the movie—this can be done, and some people are actually doing it as an elective procedure.

Of course, one can only gain about an inch at a time using this procedure—and you will pay for that one inch with three months of excruciating healing time, followed by about three more months of rigorous therapy. The procedure involves the doctor literally breaking the shin bones of his patient, inserting a telescoping rod, and letting the rod ever-so-slowly pull the broken halves of shin bones farther apart—about one millimeter each day. Over time, new muscles, arteries, and bone fill the gap.

While the procedure was initially reserved for people with dwarfism or mismatched leg lengths, it has recently come into vogue as straight-up plastic surgery for those who just want to be taller. The most height ever gained by one person in this manner was about 15 centimeters (6 in), meaning that someone underwent the procedure we just described six times.

Show Me The Proof

Leg Lengthening Patient Hopes to Grow By 3.3 Inches With Painful Procedure
Limb-lengthening: The ‘radical’ new plastic surgery craze
Making Strides: The Knee-Jerking Facts about Leg Lengthening