In the movie Gattaca, the protagonist played by Ethan Hawke undergoes a limb lengthening procedure. The medical world identifies this procedure as Distraction Osteogenesis; a surgical process used to reconstruct skeletal and bone deformities and lengthen the long bones of the body.
Though primarily this procedure is done on children with birth defects or patients with craniofacial deformities, it seems that many have taken to it for the purpose of advancement in their social and professional lives.
The bone is fractured into two segments and the two bone ends of the bone are gradually moved apart during the distraction phase. This allows new bone to form in the gap.
When the desired or possible length is reached, a consolidation phase follows in which the bone is allowed to keep healing. A method of Distraction Osteogenesis developed in 1951 by Dr. Gavril llizarov, a Russian orthopedic surgeon, became the most common practise and was the best chance to restore shattered bones and straightened crooked ones.
The surgery however involved extreme pain, discomfort and a high chance of infection but breakthroughs in Distraction Osteogenesis in the 1990s have resulted in less painful (albeit more expensive) alternatives.
Nip, Tuck and …
In recent years, men’s perception of cosmetic and plastic surgery have seen a positive change. The need to get a leg in or to stay competitive in the professional realm could perhaps be the swing factors, amongst others, in this opinion change. What’s obvious is the rise in the number of men undergoing a little nip and tuck at aesthetic centres. With the procedure being more easily accessible and affordable, the trend looks set to soar.
The ‘radical’ new kid on the plastic surgery block amongst men it seems is limb lengthening.
An increasing number of vertically challenged men are subjecting themselves to this excruciatingly painful surgery. Insecurity issue has been cited as one reason for men to give serious consideration and head for the operating table.
This procedure costing about USD$ 85 000 (in the US but apparently lesser abroad) is not for the faint-hearted because doctors do not prescribed anti-inflammatory painkillers as they might inhibit bone growth. Generally, the surgery adds two to three inches though a New York man was reported to have experienced a six inch growth.
A majority of the men who opt for Distraction Osteogenesis for cosmetic reasons are often suffering from what doctors termed as, height dysphoria. This insecurity and obsession with height – or the lack of it – drives them to seek surgical solutions when therapy doesn’t work.
In China, this trend among men is on the rise as reportedly, many Chinese people feel discriminated against in their jobs if they are not tall or good-looking enough.
The job section in the Chinese newspaper apparently contains certain height requirements to be met especially in the service industry. Status it seems is usually equated with height and for this reason alone, walking tall amongst peers is a pre-requisite for most men.
Flipping through magazines or surfing television channels just seem to drive through the realization that our ideologies and perception of beauty is still defined by a certain narcissistic standard.
Then again whether the realization stems from a feeling of inadequacy or jealousy depends on the individual.
Detractors may base their opinions on moral grounds but for those whose lives have changed for the better after undergoing the procedure, making strides is what it’s all about.