Anyone who has every considered the idea of possibly going through with the process of limb lengthening surgery to make their body longer aka taller has also asked the question “Will I still look proportional after the surgery?”.
This point was mentioned once again in a comment as a response to the previous post, about the good news of the research Dr. Alsberg has been working on. That news was definitely a game changer.
The obvious concern is that while height and looker taller is important, it is equally important that their body still looks proportional. The feared result after the procedue to make one’s tibia or femur longer is that either the torso, the arms, limbs, or head might look small or short now.
To get a more in depth access to people who ask such questions, visit the forum website www.limblengtheningforum.com
In response to people who have this type of fear or concern, I would like to refer them to multiple studies that I have accumulated over the last 3 years. The average person on the street who doesn’t think about their height and body proportions as we do (the regulars of this website) probably have not heard of the concept of a person’s “Wingspan”. The wingspan of a person is the length from the tip of one’s left middle finger to the tip of the right middle finger, when the person has fully stretched out their arms.
In many sports, particularly basketball, boxing, and football (quarterback position), the length of one’s arm’s (aka reach) is very important. In athletics, while height is almost always mentioned, the wingspan will also be brought up in these sports.
The generally accepted rule (based on probably Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vetruvium Man sketch) is that the wingspan of a person will be the same as one’s height. The data that has come out from national censuses, collection of data of anthropometric studies done over the decades is that the wingspan of a person is on average slightly longer than the height. In males, the wingspan/height ratio is even more skewed. I can’t find the study at this moment, but the average ratio of wingspan/height is around 1.02/1, for males.
Based on a just an initial hypothesis, it sort of makes sense when one realizes that while the feet and torso is always putting load/weight on the legs, the arms don’t have any load placed on them. While the growth plates in the legs have to push against the force of gravity, the growth plates in the arms are not, at least downwards. This means that the arms are on average, going to grow just slightly more than the legs, without the constraint of gravity pushing down on them.
So my first point is, it is most likely that for the short male who is asking, their wingspan will be longer than their height. An extra 3-5 cm to their vertical length will not cause a big proportionality problem since their width length is already there.
Here is my 2nd argument. People who develop short stature, from some form of real medical condition develop a normal/proportional sized torso and head, but their limbs suffer. Achrondroplasia, which is the most common medical condition causing severe short stature, most often results in a person with a normal body, (with normal sized had and torso) but with exceptionally short limbs. This means that for their condition, it would makes sense just to lengthen the arms and legs, and never touch the skull, neck, spine, or torso area.
Achondroplasia is often caused by an increased level of FGFR3. Studies have shown that inhibiting the effect of FGFR3 removes the effects of achondroplasia. However, it only works by first realizing that one’s unborn child has the condition, and a gene therapist going into the embryo and editing the genetic makeup of the embryo before the baby is ever even born.
The same can be seen with GDF5 (growth-differentiation factor 5) – mice that were bred to not have this gene being expressed develop relatively normal torsos and bodies, but their limbs (arms and legs) were severely shortened. It seems that there are many ways to make a person shorter, and the most common ways to do that is to cause some genetic issue of their limb development.
So if a person is worried about proportionality, they should not be worried about the length or size of their torso.
In fact, in the beginning of this website, I made a theory/hypothesis from watching my own body, and the Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps body. People who are big eaters when they are young, who develop to be taller than average, seem to have their height disproportionately in their torso. Thus the torso length/leg length ratio is larger. The next time you see an adult male who is both tall and obese, look to see whether their torso/body seem to be particularly long. More likely than not.
My point here is that, to increase the length of one’s torso, it seems to be possible by being a big eater when one was younger, before they stopped growing.
This is true with people like Yao Ming. In pictures of Yao Ming sitting down with other NBA Players which I analyzed years ago, it seems that Yao seems to get his great height from his torso. When he was sitting down, he would still tower over other professional basketball players, but when you look at his legs, he has similar leg length as the others. Compare this to someone like Wilt Chamberlain, who got his great height mainly from his long legs, specifically the femur.
However, I realize that I never really answered the original question, the title of this post. – “Can We Find A Way To Make People Taller And Also Keep Their Body And Limbs Proportional?”
My 1st Point – On average, for men, their wingspan is actually longer than their height. If they go through with surgery, they should not need to worry about the disproportionality of their arms to their new longer legs.
My 2nd Point – I theorized from a few examples of people’s bodies that one can increase the length of one’s torso, at least when one is still growing, by eating more, (meat, grains, vegetables, dairy). After one stops growing, obviously it won’t be possible.
My 3rd point – Most people are not as height and proportion obsessed as us. They either don’t care or will never notice. After the leg lengthening, one may look at the mirror and focus only on the shortness of one’s arms or body, but most people will not even notice a difference.
Real Answer: In theory, anything is possible. Maybe one day in the far future, we will be able to make people not just taller, but also get the other organs and structures in the body to grow with the leg bones. However, in my educated opinion, after looking at this problem over and over again for over 3 years, there is only 2 ways that I can see. Technically, the 2 techniques that I propose are in essence the exact same physiological process. The difference is whether one chooses a very hard problem to solve, or an insanely hard problem to solve.
Technique #1: To be able to make the entire body to grow again, scientists will have to find the solution to reverse aging of the human body itself, to the extreme case of Benjamin Button. This would most likely require that the human body be placed in a chamber with amniotic fluid, which is a similar function to acid in Ph to soften/rubberize the bones to remove the Base-like (Ph-wise) hydroxyapatite crystals which makes bone hard. The fluid the body is in seeps into the human body, and converts the bones back into cartilage or cartilagenuous type tissue.
This technique would involve probably decades (if not centuries) of research in learning how to not just stop aging, but also to reverse aging, to actually turn a 60 year old women with skin full of wrinkles. to a 16 year old girl with supple, wrinkle free skin. Scientists would need to study how telomeres work, how the junk microRNAs work, which of the thousands of the genes in our chromosomes control the role of height, how to use the CRISPR-Cas9 technique, gene editing, gene therapy, how to increase the Hayflick Limit, how to stop oxidation chemical reactions from causing free radical buildup in the cells, particularly around the mitochondria area. To give a reference of what this would be like, we would have to reach the technological level of the Kryptonians from the Superman story. A true galactic master race/species who have already conquered inter-space travel. To have this type of technology, we would need to be a much, MUCH more technological advanced species to build this type of technology.
This proposal, I am not holding my breathe for, at least in my lifetime. It is way too science fiction for me.
Technique #2: Scientists figure out how to get transdifferentiation to work out – changing bone tissue to cartilage tissue. Eben Alsberg has proposed this idea, which would suggest that if he is successful, and other researchers pursue his ideas further, maybe in 50 years, they would figure out how to get the bones to turn into cartilage with a series of simple needle injections of various material (growth factors, chondromodulin, TGF-Beta, GDF5, chondrocyte seeds, pathway signalling proteins, MSCs) in the local area of where the growth plate once was, the bone area will magically turn into a “new growth plate”. This would basically be “reopening the growth plate”. If it is successful in one area of the body, the same series of needle injections will be injected in the 20-30 other areas of the adult skeleton where there once was epiphyseal hyaline cartilage tissue to work with.
This idea, it seems more viable, but I don’t see anything like this coming about at least for another 50-70 years down the line, and that is being super optimistic and making a guess at the exponential rate of technological growth based on Kurzweil’s Law of Exponential Growth.