Inside the Minds of the Short Men Who Get Their Legs Broken to Add 3-6 Inches of Height

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Image by Yvonne Betz via YouTube/Futurism

Some short men are so insecure about their height that they’re quite literally allowing doctors to break their bones during surgical leg-lengthening procedures.

As GQ reports, the excruciating surgery can involve a year of “relentless, ambient” pain during healing — though the orthopedic surgeons who do the leg-lengthening often give their patients pain medicine, per a man who got it done, which raises its own questions about medical ethics.

“They fill you with enough painkillers that it’s bearable,” said John Lovedale, a man in his mid-40s described by the magazine as being “built like a saguaro cactus” and looking something like “a brolic Neil deGrasse Tyson.” Lovedale, who was five-foot-eight-and-a-half prior to getting the surgery in the fall of 2021 and now stands about five-foot-eleven-and-a-half, told GQ that he stopped taking the medication earlier than he was supposed to out of fear of becoming addicted.

Described as a handsome and successful father of three, the cosmetic leg lengthening surgery recipient said that although he was not far from the average American male height of five-foot-nine, he was still striving to be above average.

“I noticed that taller people just seem to have it easier,” Lovedale said, reportedly while laughing. “The world seems to bend for them.”

As the report notes, that assessment is not wrong — a 2009 study of Australian men found that men tend to make about $500 less annually for every inch shorter they are than their taller counterparts.

To make the world bend to him, then, Lovedale allowed his legs to be broken.

While limb-lengthening surgeries have been documented in one form or another going back to the 19th century and initially were used as a treatment to help people who had mismatched limb lengths, cosmetic leg lengthening is a relatively new field that has, per GQ, experienced a boom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although many short kings have expressed a desire to be taller, the steep cost of the surgery — roughly $75,000, in Lovedale’s case — paired with the brutality of the procedure itself and the lengthy and reportedly “excruciating” healing process makes for a hell of a barrier to entry.

In order to make patients taller, doctors like Kevin Debiparshad (or “Dr. D if you’re nasty,” per GQ) use the surgical equivalent of large handheld drill, which is aptly named a “reamer,” to break the recipients’ bones and hollow them out so that nails can be implanted in them. Those nails are technically what add to the patients’ height, but they must also undergo intensive physical therapy to build enough muscle to support the additional length.

The whole procedure sounds fascinating, if not somewhat macabre. What’s perhaps more interesting, however, is why anyone would take on such a huge medical and financial cost to experience the world as a tall person, rather than figure out what it is that makes them insecure about their height in the first place.

READ MORE: I Wish I Was a Little Bit Taller [GQ]

More tall dudes: Man Discovers 82-Foot Dinosaur Skeleton in Backyard



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