'On the rise': The growing trend of leg lengthening cosmetic surgery in the US

Rich Rotella speaks to Nina Nannar Credit: On Assignment/ITV

I’m 5 ft 2 inches tall. When I appear in front of a camera at events I often have to stand on a box so I’m not too short in frame.

But I wouldn’t ever try to do something more permanent about my height. It is what it is.

So, I was intrigued to meet a couple of men who took action to change their height, with a procedure many people will probably find unbelievable - I certainly did.

Rich Rotella is an actor in Los Angeles, who says he simply did not get the same opportunities as actors who are taller.

So, he underwent surgery.

It involved breaking his legs, inserting titanium rods into the bone, and extending the rod by around 1mm a day, while the bone and soft tissue grew around it.

The procedure, that can increase height by up to five inches, involves breaking the thigh bones and inserting rods inside them. Credit: On Assignment/ITV

Extensive physical therapy was then required, he spent time in a wheelchair, then with a walking frame, taking steps around his apartment until he could walk unaided again.

During the first three months there were medical appointments every day, meaning he had to stay on site at the Paley Institute in Florida, where the procedure was carried out.

That was in 2022, in 2023 he had the rods removed and today he says his casting auditions have increased by more than 30%.

Rich Rotella, an actor in Los Angeles, used to be 5 ft 5 inches tall before he had the surgery to increase his height by three inches

He has documented the whole procedure with the help of Victor Egonu, a YouTuber who set up a site giving advice on leg lengthening, after he had the procedure himself in 2012.

He had been in an accident that left him with one leg shorter than the other.

He admits the surgery and aftermath are incredibly painful but, like Rich says, it has been life changing.

Dr Dror Paley is the orthopaedic surgeon who is regarded as one of the pioneers of leg lengthening surgery.

Dr Dror Paley, who is regarded as one of the pioneers of leg lengthening surgery, says the practice is becoming more widespread

He’s been doing it for more than 35 years but says with the practice becoming more widespread people should make sure they use a reputable surgeon and clinic.

Dr Paley has, he says, seen the terrible results of cases from clinics all over the world that are competing on price.

It can cost the equivalent of around £80,000, and most of the procedures have to be done privately.

So the people that have this done must, Rich and Victor say, be really ready and do plenty of research on what is involved.

Nina Nannar travelled to Los Angeles to investigate the rise of leg lengthening surgery. Credit: On Assignment/ITV

It is expected that demand for the procedure will continue to grow in the coming years.

I was left astounded.

Cosmetic surgery is nothing new, but the search for self improvement is in a whole new era.

Watch On Assignment on ITV and ITVX at 10.45pm on Tuesday.

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