Would you pay for surgery to be taller? Kaysville mom says her daughter’s happier now.

Jan 10, 2023, 6:30 PM
health care costs...
FILE: University of Utah Health workers treat patients inside the medical intensive care unit at University of Utah Hospital on Friday, July 30, 2021. University of Utah Health announced it will require vaccines for all staff who interface with patients at its hospitals and clinics. Photo: Charlie Ehlert, University of Utah Health Care

SALT LAKE CITY — Taller or shorter is a matter of genetics and can’t be reversed — or can it?

Turkish citizen Ibrahim Alğan, 30, paid $26,850 for surgery to make his legs 5 inches longer. At 5-foot-2, he had strong feelings of dislike about his height.

As a school counselor, Alğan’s job was to help young people solve their problems. Yet he couldn’t solve his own: a serious height complex, according to yahoo! finance.

KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic discuss the need to be taller.

“If you’re shorter, people don’t take you as seriously as a tall person,” Alğan said.

“If you allow it,” Dave said, but then he is 6-foot-6.

“So you think it’s more about self-confidence than about your height?” Debbie asked.

“I know tall people that are extremely confident. I know some that are super self-conscious. I know the same thing with short people,” Dave said. “This is fairly normal in our world, right? Plastic surgery.”

“Breast augmentation with women,” Debbie replied.

“Everyone’s doing something. It’d be awesome if we were just like, yeah, you are who you are,” Dave said.

“So this isn’t any different, right? If you’ve got something that nags at you — and that’s what [Alğan] said — it got to be a bigger and bigger nag on him in his life. . . . I would totally do it,” Debbie said.

“If it was just eating at you.”

“Sure. Well, and also if I had $27,000 laying around.”

Lengthening legs in Utah

Corrine from Kaysville called to say her daughter had leg-lengthening surgery to make her legs match in length — and it was “brutal.” She said her daughter saw a physical therapist four times a week for six months.

“Sometimes you have legs that are shorter than others maybe after an injury or maybe it’s just from birth,” Dave said. “What’s it like now though, that you’ve gone through the rehab on it.”

“She actually did that four years ago, and she’s just so much better, less pain. She’s actually delightful now; she was not before the surgery. But it’s a good thing. She was 16 when we did it,” Corrine said.

How surgery can make you taller

According to the yahoo! news article, Kevin Debiparshad, a Harvard-trained surgeon known as one of the world’s leading limb- and leg-lengthening surgeons, said the procedure involves cutting the leg bones — either the femur (the upper leg bone) or the tibia (the lower leg bone).

“I make four to six tiny, small incisions into the leg, creating a window to gain access to the hollow part of the bone, where I insert a device that responds to an external remote control that the patient will control at home,” Debiparshad said.

The remote control is used by the patient to increase their height by 1 millimeter a day after the surgery during a process that is usually painless.

Orthopedic lengthening devices inserted into the bone are called internal devices, such as the Precice nail, which is placed within the bone during an operation.

Corrine said a crank would advance the nail one-fifth of a millimeter at a time, which happened five times daily. She said everything was going well until it reached the 5-centimeter mark or about 2 inches.

“And then the muscles and the tendons started getting angry. And so . . . we had to step up the physical therapy. But for the first inch and a half that wasn’t too bad, but by the time we got towards five centimeters, it was painful,” she said.

“She’s glad she had it done, right?” Debbie asked.

Corrine said her daughter was glad to have the surgery done; also, it’s a popular procedure where she lives.

“You’d be surprised how many people have had this surgery in just my little neighborhood in Kaysville. There’s her and one other lady just in our tiny little area,” she said.

Related reading: Man survives heart surgery after first-of-its-kind procedure

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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Would you pay for surgery to be taller? Kaysville mom says her daughter’s happier now.