Ching-Ching Ni: Stature of Limitations in China

Taller From The LA Times (free subscription required): In a newly competitive society, being short can mean being passed over. To some people, the answer lies in a painful surgery that adds inches.

She’s an acting student. She sits in a wheelchair. He’s a business major. He relies on crutches to get around.

Each of them willingly had a doctor break their legs and insert steel pins into the bones just below their knees and above their ankles. The pins are attached to a bulky contraption that looks like a metal cage. For six months or so, they will wear this stretching device even though it delivers excruciating pain eased only by medication.

They dial the adjustment knobs daily, forcing the ends of the broken limbs to pull away from each other even as they heal. As new bone grows, the device forces it apart again, resulting in more new bone to fill the gap. Patients on the device typically gain about 3 inches in six months.

It may sound like medieval torture, but people who are determined to stand taller say it’s nothing short of a dream maker.

April 1, 2005 5:05 AM
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