Standing five foot six inches tall he was was well within the boundaries of normal. But, in his mind’s eye, the New Yorker, who wants to be known only as Apotheosis, saw himself in a different light- as a statuesque six foot. Desperate to become the man he believed he should be, the determined 37-year-old turned to drastic measures- undergoing agonising, expensive surgery.
The procedure, in which both legs are broken and then slowly stretched, bears more than a little resemblance to medieval torture.
But the brave patient has now achieved a remarkable six inches of extra height.
‘Apotheosis’ explained: ‘I realized that the world looked at me a certain way that I didn’t look at myself in that certain way.
‘I wanted the way I felt about myself and the way the world felt about me to be similar.’
In some cultures the painful and expensive proceedure is seen as an investment in the future.
The trend for limb lengthening surgery swept China where minimum heights are often quoted in personal adverts and job advertisements as the country opened up to the West a decade ago. To join the foreign service men are required to be at least five foot seven. But the controversial surgery was banned in 2006 after a succession of botched jobs.
Meanwhile a ‘growing’ number of men are pursuing limb-lengthening operations in the US.
Florida based orthopaedic surgeon Dr Dror Paley is one of few US medics to have completed the cosmetic procedure.
The surgeon, who works at the Paley Institute at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, last year performed 650 leg-lengthening surgeries, most but not all to remedy deformities.
Dr Paley said: ‘The majority who come for cosmetic limb lengthening have what we call, height dysphoria. They’re unhappy with their height.
‘It’s one of the few psychologic-psychiatric disorders that you can actually cure with the knife.’
The surgery is not for the faint-hearted. The leg bone is broken in two. The doctor then implants a state-of-the-art telescopic rod into the cartilage of the bone which then pulls it apart very gradually, one millimeter a day.
New living bone grows along it to fill the gap and muscles, nerves, the arteries, and the skin, also renew themselves
The cost is a prohibitive $85,000, and takes at least three months to complete. Gruelling physical therapy is essential.
Apotheosis travelled to Germany for his surgery and has first generation implants that are extended by the body’s movement rather than remote control.
He is still recovering and is reluctant to speak too soon of success. He told ABC News: ‘I am still lengthening right now and there could be further complications and I don’t want to talk about it successfully until it’s been successful.’
On makemetaller.org a candid internet discussion board for those considering surgery he advises: ‘I am not telling anyone they should do this surgery, but I am laying out my experiences and the risks that I have taken and the successes that I have had and let people make their own decision,’ he said.
But he says he already feels like a new man.
‘When I walk down the street a different person perceived differently by the world for the rest of my life, you know, I am who I want to be now,’ he said.
The online nickname Apotheosis, comes from the Greek to become godlike- in the sense of being the best you can be.
‘And that’s kind of what I want? And I am not trying to be godlike; I am trying to be the best me that I can be.’