MIAMI (CBS4) – Can you imagine growing six inches in just three months?
It’s possible, and it’s not a growth spurt. A new medical advancement that is lengthening people’s legs and it’s done right here in South Florida.
Two kinds of people get their limbs lengthened; one is often a child who suffers from some form of dwarfism. The other is a perfectly healthy able–bodied, average-sized individual getting a major surgery simply for cosmetic reasons.
Recovery for Kenny Zaidner is intense. Watching a session may make you feel uncomfortable but for this South Florida teenager, the pain is worth it.
At 14, this is Kenny’s second surgery to grow taller and correct a form of Dwarfism. After the first surgery two years ago, Zaidner grew 4 inches taller.
“This is what’s making me grow and going make my life much better,” said Zaidner as he pointed to two devices piercing his skin and screwed into his thigh bone.
The device, called fixitures, are attached through the skin to a bone after it’s broken. It literally pulls that bone apart lengthening the leg up to six inches at a time.
“You are really changing their lives, improving their function and doing things they were never able to do before,” said Dr. Dror Paley, founder of The Paley Institute.
But this medical marvel is now even more miraculous. Dr. Paley, who practices at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, has developed a new way to extend limbs without any exterior device.
“I am having leg lengthening done,” said one of the first ever patients undergoing this new kind of procedure.
The man doesn’t want to be identified because this healthy able-bodied 30-something is not lengthening for medical reasons, but for purely cosmetic ones.
In the end he is looking to gain two inches and go from 5′ 8″ tall to 5′ 10″.
For that growth, the man underwent surgery to implant a telescopic metal rod, called a Precise Nail, inside his thigh bone. The rod expands inside a person’s body much like an expandable shower curtain. The rods are held in place by two screws at the top and two at the bottom.
“It is going to have a very positive consequence on my life,” said the man to CBS 4’s Jorge Estevez.
How does it work? A machine provides magnetic energy and causes the gears inside the rod implanted in his thigh bone to stretch.
“Without penetrating the skin, just remotely from the outside, we can make it lengthened and shorten at any speed we want,” said Dr. Paley.
For seven minutes a day, this procedure grows the leg by a millimeter. The man elected to pay to have the surgery. The procedure costs $85,000.
“There is cosmetic procedures done. Women get them done. Guys get them done. It is not any different,” said the man.
And while the internal precise nail is available for adults, It has not yet been adapted for children like Zaidner who will be attending physical therapy for another few weeks.
Zaidner and his parents are debating a third surgery that will get him to 5′ 6″ tall.
The goal is to have the internal precise nail be fitted for children but the fact that they are still growing makes it a challenge.
The procedure is covered by insurance if in fact the patient suffers from a medical condition like dwarfism.