I had limb lengthening surgery and it changed my life and my career

  • Ibrahim Alğan paid $26,850 for an operation that made his legs longer.
  • The 30-year-old told Insider that he hates being short. “When you’re short, you start down 1-0.”
  • He gained almost 5 inches and says he has more confidence and even changed careers because of it.

As a school counselor, Ibrahim Alğan’s job was to help young people solve their problems. Still, he couldn’t solve his: a serious height complex.

Alğan, who is 30 years old, is from the city of Adana in southern Turkey. He was 5 foot 2 and had strong feelings about his height.

“If you’re shorter, people don’t take you seriously as a tall person,” he told Insider. He said he felt he was not confident enough to help the students at his school.

“I firmly believe that charisma is one of the must-have leadership qualities,” he said. “When you’re short, you start down 1-0.”

Alğan said that his colleagues joke about his height at least once a week. He said he felt tall people around him were more popular and had more opportunities. “They were at an advantage in both private relationships and employment,” he said.

He said he never forgot his first girlfriend who told him she wished he was taller and said the derogatory comments throughout his life “always stayed” like a “wound in me”.

So he researched methods that claim to help a person grow. He took powders and pills to increase his height. He played basketball, swam and jumped.

“I was hanging from the bar for a few minutes before bed almost every night,” he said. “I used reflexology pads that were claimed to stimulate growth.”

Nothing worked, except the hidden heel shoes that made him up to 3 inches taller. But they were not enough. “It was like a fake dream,” he said. “Every time I took off my shoes, I faced reality anew.

– My obsession grew bigger every day.

‘My purpose in life’

Ibrahim Alğan lies in a hospital bed before surgery.

Alğan had his first operation in February 2015.

Courtesy of Wannabetaller

After two rounds of leg lengthening surgery, Alğan added 5 inches to his height.

He didn’t tell anyone about his first operation, in February 2015, thinking they wouldn’t understand.

This made it 2.4 inches taller. When people noticed, he said he had a bone deformity and needed surgery to correct it.

In March 2020, he had a second surgery that increased his height by another 2.4 inches.

The operation changed his perspective so much that he quit his job as a consultant and started his own clinic in Turkey offering leg lengthening surgeries. He is the main coordinator, and his team is mostly made up of other people who have been operated on.

“I realized that there are many people who want to do this surgery in Turkey, but there are not many options for consultation or even getting more information about the limb and leg lengthening process,” he said.

His clinic, Wanna Be Taller, charges between $70,000 and $150,000, depending on whether the patient wants to grow 3, 4, 5 or 6 inches.

He said he wasn’t thinking about starting a leg lengthening business before the surgery. “My only goal—I might even call it my purpose in life—was to get taller.”

A new group of patients

Leg lengthening surgery has been a hot topic in recent months. It was initially used to treat people with different leg lengths, but is now used by patients who want to become taller.

Kevin Debiparshad, a Harvard-educated surgeon known as one of the world’s leading limb and leg lengthening surgeons, said the procedure involves cutting the leg bones – the femur (upper leg bone) or the tibia (lower leg bone).

“I make four to six tiny, small incisions in the leg, creating a window to access the hollow part of the bone, where I insert a device that responds to an external remote control that the patient will operate at home,” Debiparshad said.

Using a remote control, the patient increases their height by 1 millimeter a day after surgery, in a process that is usually painless.

He told Insider that increased media coverage and reduced stigma surrounding cosmetic procedures has opened up the procedure to a new group of patients.

“Traditionally, most of my patients are younger, shorter men who want to increase their height. However, we see a lot of older patients, people of average height, female patients, and even those seeking height reduction surgery,” he said. “This second group includes people who are transitioning and want their bodies to better align with how they perceive themselves.”

‘Now I can see myself as a real adult’

Ibrahim Alğan sits outside with his legs crossed.

Alğan was 5 feet 2 meters tall before the leg lengthening surgery.

Courtesy of Wannabetaller.

Alğan said his life has changed “dramatically” since he got taller.

“When I put on the suit, I used to feel like a child, but now I see myself as a real adult,” he said. “I hear the phrase ‘these clothes fit you’ more and it has a positive effect on me in many aspects of my life.”

He likes that he doesn’t have to look up when talking to people, which allows him to “think healthier and make better decisions.”

He said his new job running the clinic has similarities to his old role as a counsellor: “I support people who have psychological difficulties in growing up.”

“People don’t joke about my height anymore,” he said. “As a leader, I think there is nothing more valuable than the confidence I have now.”

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