Google, Microsoft engineers spend hundreds of thousands of broken legs, which is becoming more and more popular in Silicon Valley

Las Vegas, a gambler's paradise.

The "Golden Cave" is not only distributed in casinos, but a special clinic is also making gold every day.

Here, people, including Silicon Valley engineers, are preparing to undergo an operation, more or less with a gambling element.

The first step is to fracture a healthy thigh.

Suffering his will, breaking his leg bones

LimbplasX Institute, founded in Las Vegas in 2016.

The founder, Kevin Debiparshad (hereafter referred to as Dr. D), is one of the few surgeons in North America who is good at limb lengthening.

Most of the people who come to the LimbplasX Institute are men.

▲ Picture from: PA Images/Universal Pictures

The average height of an American male is 5 feet 9 inches, or about 175.26 centimeters. Some men who are below average and unwilling, decide to find another way out here.

Dr. D said that he performed a minimally invasive surgery, but for most people, it was a "radical and expensive" surgery, with high barriers in all aspects – expensive, time-consuming, process pain.

Surgery can cost anywhere from $70,000 to $150,000 , depending on how tall you want to grow.

Choose the standard 3-inch (7.62 cm) package, which generally requires only the femur (commonly known as the thigh bone); if the tibia (the long bone on the inner side of the lower leg) is also done, it is also possible to grow 6 inches (15.24 cm) tall.

However, don't push the limits lightly, the bigger the ambition, the greater the risk of complications.

Have you chosen how tall you want to grow? Next, is the process of how to "grow against the sky".

▲ Picture from: dailymail

The first is implant surgery. Dr. D makes incisions in the patient's femur or tibia, then cuts and hollows out the leg bone at precise locations, implants adjustable nails made of titanium, makes several small incisions along the leg, and screws the nails fixed in place.

▲ Picture from: nypost

The piccolo-long nails are used to expand and lengthen the bone , and it usually takes only 1 hour to complete the leg implants.

▲ Picture from: GQ

After 2 days of hospitalization, the patient will be transferred to a nearby accommodation and wait to slowly "grow taller". The nails in the body will respond to the magnetic remote control, extending by 1mm per day for about 90 days, and new bone is formed in the process.

The rationale here is that bone is living tissue that regenerates itself . Unlike casting to heal in place, limb lengthening slowly pulls the bone apart. As the two bones gradually separate, the body will fill in the gap with new bone, giving the leg extra length.

▲ Anterior and posterior X-rays with elongated femur and tibia. Image source: GQ

At the same time, patients need physical therapy five to six days a week, for at least an hour a day, to stretch the tissues attached to the bones and build enough muscle to support the legs.

Once the desired length is reached, the growth process ends and the consolidation phase begins. The newly regenerated bone will fully harden and the patient must adhere to weight-bearing restrictions until X-rays confirm that normal activities can be resumed.

▲ Picture from: [email protected] The PT

Patients have the nails removed one year after surgery, at an additional cost of $14,000 to $20,000. Painkillers, anticoagulants, home care and assistance, medical and surgical costs for complications, etc., also need to be calculated on a case-by-case basis.

So, the whole process takes a year, and this year can be accompanied by pain, although LimbplasX's official website says that "this bone lengthening process is usually painless."

GQ Magazine interviewed Dr. D's patient John, whose nails stretched the nerves and tissue around the bones to "almost unbearable levels", preventing him from walking for months. Painkillers make the pain bearable, but John worries about becoming addicted to the drugs.

▲ John from 173.99 to 181.61 cm. Image via: GQ

In the interview, a small section of John's right femur was still soft, meaning it wasn't fully consolidated, and the smallest stumbling block could snap it in half.

In addition to the pain of the surgery itself, there are some risk of complications that vary from person to person, including fat embolism, infection, nonunion, deep vein thrombosis, nerve palsy, and more.

In this regard, LimbplasX's official website gives a slightly contradictory reminder: "Limb lengthening surgery has a significant risk of complications, but the overall incidence is extremely low."

After going through nine, nine and eighty-one hardships, lucky patients will see a higher self in the mirror. But all the extra height comes from the legs, so the proportions may look a little weird.

go with risk

Limb lengthening is not pseudoscience, it is also called Distraction Osteogenesis.

This concept was first proposed in 1869, and the first clinical implementation was in 1905 , but it failed due to serious complications.

Relatively well-established limb lengthening procedures appeared in the 1950s. At the time, a Soviet plastic surgeon named Gavriil Ilizarov invented adjustable external fixation devices inspired by bicycle spokes in order to treat wounded soldiers in World War II.

▲ Picture from: SME intelligence officer

This external fixation device is called the Ilizarov frame, which fixes the bone at the broken end of the bone through a steel pin, and the fixation rings at the upper and lower ends are fixedly connected with reinforcing bolts. After slow and steady pulling of the fixator, new bone grows on the broken end of the bone.

▲ Picture from: SME intelligence officer

With the device, war-crippled patients have the same legs again after months of bedridden. Later, the distraction osteogenesis technique was extended to the whole world, and it has been widely used from phalangeal defects and joint deformities to imbalance of left and right limbs and severe fractures.

Therefore, the original intention of limb lengthening surgery is to help patients with congenital defects or acquired deformities to restore the balance and symmetry of the two legs, not to grow taller.

Obviously, although the specific techniques of the titanium nails implanted and the Ilizarov frame fixed outside are different, they have certain similarities. The underlying logic is the self-regeneration of bones.

▲ Picture from: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Dr. D, who relied on titanium nails to eat, believed that external fixation devices had a high incidence of complications, including needle tract infection, re-fracture after removal of the fixator, etc.; Dr. D and Soviet doctors also had different positions, and what he did was cosmetic surgery. limb lengthening surgery.

In his view, this is no different from able-bodied people receiving rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, or Botox injections. They are all ways of correcting "personal flaws", which are reasonable as long as they understand the risks.

Because the service is very expensive, Dr. D feels that his patients are well-educated, have realistic goals, understand the limitations of surgery, and actively cooperate with physical therapy.

▲ Tall people also want to be taller.

However, the use of limb lengthening to achieve "heightening of broken bones" has not only appeared in the past few years, but also not only under the hands of Dr. D.

At the beginning of this century, the barbaric growth and extensive methods of limb lengthening surgery in China led to many tragedies.

In 2000, Fang, who had two operations in a private orthopaedic hospital in Beijing, had unequal lengths of both calves, lateral deviation of the right calf, and lateral deviation of the left calf. The degree of disability was grade 8.

In 2006, "Focus Interview" reported that Xiao Li from Zhejiang suffered from varus equinus deformity after the first operation, and his left leg lost normal function after the second operation.

In November 2006, the Ministry of Health stated that medical beauty institutions shall not carry out limb lengthening surgery :

Limb lengthening is an orthopaedic clinical treatment technique, which is not a medical cosmetology project, and medical cosmetology institutions are not allowed to carry out this technique. Medical institutions that carry out this technology should be qualified tertiary general hospitals or orthopaedic specialty hospitals, and have orthopedic diagnosis and treatment subjects approved by the health administrative department.

▲ Picture from: evolution limb lengthening

Until now, cosmetic limb lengthening surgery is still only offered in a few clinics around the world, the relevant laws and regulations are not perfect, and doctors have their own rules of conduct. In December 2020, the BBC reported that in the UK, a handful of private clinics overseen by the Quality of Care Commission offer the procedure for up to £50,000.

To make matters worse, private clinics rarely provide the number of patients with complications, meaning the risk is hard to count, but once it falls on an individual, it's 100 percent.

▲ Picture from: BBC

Therefore, the increase in "defying the sky" is accompanied by risks, but there are still people who are rushing to it.

By the end of 2020, there were 100 to 200 such procedures per year in the US, Germany and South Korea, 20 to 40 per year in Spain, India, Turkey and Italy, and about 15 per year in the UK.

heart serve

There are both gains and losses, and it may be suitable to use it in "heightening of broken bones".

Even if you successfully walk off the operating table without any complications, the patient will lose some mobility.

Dr. D, who called Bones "the most exciting organization in the world," couldn't help but remind:

You can walk and go to the gym normally, but you may not be able to sprint 100 meters like a sprinter if that's something you can do before surgery.

▲ Picture from: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Another interesting fact is that 90% of Dr. D's patients never told anyone that they had "broken bone augmentation".

They also lied a lot in order to make the long recovery period "undercover". Some people said they had a ski accident, and some people ate takeout alone in the apartment for 3 months after the operation.

Looking back at the reason why they did "higher broken bones" may explain this phenomenon.

Many people who come to Las Vegas for surgery have successful careers. After all, the cost of surgery is not cheap.

▲ Picture from: Unsplash

Currently, 20 software engineers have made an appointment with Dr. D for surgery, from PayPal, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft.

In a 2020 interview , Dr. D mentioned that his patients also included lawyers and venture capitalists, who "are quite successful in their careers but feel lacking in height."

For them, the misfortune of being short is reflected in the details of life, including rude nicknames, being ignored when ordering, being excluded from the basketball team…

Pain can also be about the workplace and real money, according to an Australian study , men who are 6 feet (182.88 cm) tall earn nearly $1,000 more per year than men who are 2 inches (5.08 cm) shorter.

▲ Picture from: livescience

It is not scientific to compare the quality of tall and short people simply and rudely. This must be the result of a combination of factors. In the same way, it's hard to say what rewards you can get just by changing your height.

But many patients still see heightening as a self-investment. The heightened self after the broken bone makes them feel more complete.

It is very important for these patients to change the way they are seen by others and the world. It is about confidence and self-esteem, which then affects social interaction, work and even relationships.

After surgery, someone got more attention at the gym, someone preferred to be seen in public, and someone confidently returned to the ball club to date the opposite sex.

John, who had been unable to walk for months, threw away his crutches when the pain went away, though this was not permitted by doctors and he was accused of "getting impatient with his new height".

Therefore, in addition to physical training, these patients actually need psychological training very much, and gradually adapt to seeing the world from a new height.

But these patients are willing to pay high economic and time costs, and may have figured out everything. Height increase, liposuction, medical aesthetics… Although the body is weak, rich can make one look better, at least the mood will be happier.

▲ Sam from 162 to 170 cm. Image: BBC

As Sam Becker, a patient with Broken Bone Growth in 2015, put it:

"It was a crazy and humbling experience. I broke my legs and learned to walk again. It was seen as cosmetic surgery, but I did it mostly for my mental health."


Li Ruoqiushuang, to exorcise evil. Working email: [email protected]

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