Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Long Legs

Boy, what some will do for looks!:
China has banned the practice of leg-lengthening, a cosmetic surgery procedure popular among young professionals who believe height will help them to climb the career ladder, after a rash of botched operations has left patients disfigured.

Leg extension surgery looks like a procedure from the Middle Ages. A doctor breaks the patient's legs and inserts steel pins into the bones, just below the knees. The pins are attached to a metal frame and every day for months the patient tightens the knobs a small amount despite excruciating pain. By constantly forcing the ends of the broken bones apart before they can heal, more new bone comes to fill in the gaps.

... The operation costs some 100,000 yuan (£6,700) and it is often six months before the patient can walk without using a walking frame. Many can never run again.

... Chinese people's increased sensitivity about their appearance has seen a rash of cosmetic surgery clinics springing up around the country, offering a huge array of different kinds of surgery. Many of the clinics are run by doctors who abandon poorly paid work in the state-run medical system to cash in on the appetite for nips, tucks and leg extensions.

... Being tall has really only become an issue in China since the economic boom - the architect of the country's opening up, Deng Xiaoping, stood less than 5ft tall. But nowadays, many Chinese feel discriminated against in their jobs if they are not tall or good-looking enough. Men wear step heels, and television ads show the footwear with its inches-giving insoles.

... The technique of leg-lengthening was conceived by Italians in 1905, but the Russians can take credit for developing the concept. Much of the breakthrough work was done by Doctor Gavril Ilizarov, who used bicycle spokes to heal fractured bones broken by gunshots. He later adapted this technique to lengthening limbs. It is now used all over the world but is rarely allowed for cosmetic reasons.

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