A man has undergone cosmetic limb-lengthening surgery to increase his height from 5ft 11 to 6ft 1 to be more like the basketball heroes he grew up with.
Alfonso Flores, 28, from Dallas, Texas, said that he had wanted to be taller from the age of 12 but his family and friends had all warned him against the ‘unnecessary’ treatment.
The freelance writer and pre-med student persevered with the surgery under the care of Harvard-trained orthopedic surgeon Dr Kevin Debiparshad of The LimbplastX Institute in Las Vegas.
Alfonso has now been at his new height for seven months and says that it feels great to say he has finally achieved his dream of topping 6ft.
Before: Alfonso Flores, 28, from Dallas, Texas, underwent cosmetic limb-lengthening surgery in 2020 to increase his height from 5ft 11 to 6ft 1. He is pictured before the cosmetic surgery
After: Alfonso, left, has grown by two inches, fulfilling his dream of being taller. He is pictured with orthopedic surgeon, Dr Kevin Debiparshad of The LimbplastX Institute, in Las Vegas
Then and now: After the surgery, Alfonso stands at 6ft 1, having grown by two inches as a result of the cutting-edge procedure
The procedure is incredibly expensive, however.
Dr Debiparshad’s website states that the surgeries start at $75,000 for a femur-lengthening procedure – which is what Alfonso had done – and go up to $84,000 for a tibia-lengthening surgery, however patients may also opt for add-ons that can raise the price to around $94,000.
Between one and two years after the surgery has taken place, patients then have to fork out an additional fee to have the nails removed from their legs, a procedure that costs between $14,000 and $20,000, which would bring the total cost of the limb-lengthening to between $89,000 and $114,000.
How limb-lengthening works
Limb-lengthening is a procedure to extend bones in the arms or legs.
It is a gradual process that slowly increases the length of both bones and soft tissues (skin, muscles, nerves).
The leg bone is broken in two places before a state-of-the-art telescopic rod is implanted into the cartilage of the bone.
The orthopedic device is then gradually adjusted to pull apart – usually at a rate of one millimetre a day – so that it slowly separates the two bone segments.
New living bone then grows to fill the gap and increases the overall length of the limb, but will not be considered ‘healed’ until this regenerate bone has hardened and calcified.
Muscles, nerves, arteries and skin also renew themselves.
Speaking about his motivations, Alfonso told FEMAIL: ‘I know 5’11 is a great height, and many people would love to be that tall, but I wanted just a little more than that.
‘This is something that I’ve really wanted to do as far as I can remember – since I was 12.
He continued: ‘I decided to go for 6’1 because I started off at a great height and wanted to retain as much of my athletic ability and range of motion as possible.
‘I seem to have retained all of it because I am able to squat the same as before.’
He said that his friends and family had been apprehensive about the operation but that they have since come around to the idea.
Alfonso said: ‘They thought I was crazy and that I shouldn’t do it because it was unnecessary. However, after I explained to them how the procedure worked and how safe it was, they were much more supportive.
‘I really wanted to be more like my heroes. All of my heroes were super tall. Particularly people like Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, and of course my father.
‘These people were remarkable team leaders, hard workers, and they embodied everything that I wanted for my future self.’
The hour-long femur-lengthening procedure is, according to Dr Debiparshad, only minimally invasive, and sees surgeons making between four and six incisions in the patient’s thigh.
From there, they separate the femur with a few incisions, and place an implant into the hollow of the bone. This implant is controlled with a remote that the patient can operate at home, extending it by a tiny amount each day until the optimum length is achieved.
According to Alfonso, the entire process was far less painful than people might think, and he was even able to take his first rehabilitation steps just one day after undergoing the operation.
Talking through the process he said: ‘Once I discovered The LimbplastX Institute, I scheduled my consultation with Dr Debiparshad, set an appointment to have the surgery, and within three weeks, I was in the hospital being rolled into the operating room.
‘Dr Debiparshad and his staff were great to work with and really looked after me throughout the process!
The surgery was performed by Harvard-trained orthopedic surgeon Dr Debiparshad
Alfonso was able to take his first rehabilitation steps just one day after surgery. Pictured: X-ray before surgery (left) and after with the implants (right)
‘The surgery went great. When I woke up, I wasn’t in as much pain as I thought I would be.
‘During my stay at the hospital, Dr Debiparshad prescribed me a few pain medications which really helped make this process as painless as possible. I would say the pain was as high as a 3/10.
‘When I was ready to walk, one day after the surgery, my pain was as high as 4/10.
‘The most difficult part was sleeping on my back for two days at the hospital. It was only a matter of weeks until I was back to normal day-to-day activities.
‘I’ve had little to no discomfort in my legs throughout the process.
‘My bones are pretty much consolidated since having the surgery.’
This is has been something that I have wanted for a long time and it feels great to say that I have finally achieved it…
Alfonso also gave advice to anyone else considering surgery of a similar kind.
He said: ‘I highly encourage people to really look into themselves before they commit to having the surgery, and really think about why they are doing this to ensure that it’s for the right reason.
‘As for post-surgery, I’d say as long as you’re taking care of yourself, taking it slow, and being careful with your limbs after the surgery, you should be in really great shape.’
He concluded: ‘The past seven months have been a dream.
‘This is has been something that I have wanted for a long time and it feels great to say that I have finally achieved it.’
There has recently been a surge in numbers of those seeking cosmetic limb-lengthening surgery.
It comes as increasing studies suggest that height equals status, power and achievement with taller people more likely to become CEOs, executives or positions of power.
Tall women are seen as more ‘intelligent, assertive and independent’ with short women considered more ‘nurturing’ and to be better caregivers.
This commonly leads to a workplace bias where shorter women are dismissed and downplayed to more traditional gender roles.