The Effect of Limb Lengthening Surgeries in Improving the Quality of Life
Limb lengthening surgeries can significantly improve the quality of life of those born with achondroplasia or other forms of dwarfism. Limb lengthening surgeries offer significant gains in height, minimal risks of serious complications, and an overall improvement in the quality of life for consenting, informed individuals who elect to take the surgery as treatment for achondroplasia. According to research findings, patients undergoing limb lengthening procedures experience lengthening of the limbs that average between 5.7 and 20.5 cm (Scheidel and Rodl 2012).
One patient, Kenny Zaidner, was able to gain four inches on his initial height as a result of a limb lengthening procedure performed by Dr. Dror Paley of the Paley Institute that specializes in limb lengthening (Cosmetic 2012). Zaidner and his family have been so satisfied with the results, that they are considering another surgery that would boost his height to 5’6″ overall.
The significant gains in height as a result of limb lengthening help to show why exactly limb lengthening surgeries are such an effective tool to boost the heights of patients suffering from achondroplasia or other forms of dwarfism. With these gains in height, patients are able to access utilities such as faucets, light switches, automobile controls, and cabinets that are built for people with a taller stature (Dwarf 2005). Furthermore, patients report “increased confidence” as a result of their new height stemming from this surgery (Positano 2011). According to Dr. Dror Paley of the Paley Institute, these procedures allow people with dwarfism to do things that they were “never able to do before” (Cosmetic 2012).
These positive results that can all be achieved effectively through the use of limb lengthening procedures help reinforce exactly why limb lengthening can be an effective treatment of symptoms of achondroplasia and other forms of dwarfism. However, like any surgical procedure, there is always the slim chance for complications to occur, and people who elect to take this procedure should be well informed about potential pain and the amount of time the procedure takes, as well as the intense physical therapy and recovery period afterward.
Some would argue that potential complications from limb lengthening procedures, such as infection, nerve damage, and ankle stiffness, are serious enough for the risks to outweigh the benefits of the surgery. Thankfully, such complications are rare, according to Dr. Rock Positano (Positano 2011). Furthermore, Positano states that complications, if they do occur, can be treated effectively with “intense therapy and home exercises” (Positano 2011).
These potential complications are so uncommon that they absolutely do not outweigh the many benefits that patients receive, once again highlighting the relative safety and usefulness of limb lengthening as a treatment for achondroplasia. Because of the significant advantages of limb lengthening procedures, including increased height, a better outlook on life and ability to access facilities designed around a taller average height, as well as the low risk of complications, it is clear that limb lengthening is an effective and useful tool in treating skeletal dysplasias such as achondroplasia and other forms of dwarfism.