- Ibrahim Alğan paid $26,850 for surgery to make his legs longer.
- The 30-year-old told Insider that he hated being short. “When you’re short, you start 1-0 down.”
- He gained almost 5 inches and says he is more confident and even changed his career as a result.
As a school counselor, Ibrahim Alğan’s job was to help young people solve their problems. Still, he couldn’t solve his own: a severe height complex.
Alğan, who is 30, is from the city of Adana in southern Turkey. He was 5-foot-2 and had strong feelings about height.
“If you’re shorter, people don’t take you as seriously as a tall person,” he told Insider. He said he felt he was not confident enough to help the students at his school.
“I strongly believe that charisma is one of the must-have traits in leadership,” he said. “When you’re short, you start 1-0 down.”
Alğan said his colleagues made jokes about his height at least once a week. He said he felt tall people around him were more popular and had more opportunities. “They were more advantageous both in private matters and recruiting,” he said.
He said he had never forgotten his first girlfriend who told him she wished he was taller, and said derogatory comments throughout his life “have always remained” as “a wound in me.”
So he researched methods that claim to help a person grow taller. He took powders and pills to increase his height. He played basketball, swam and jumped.
“I used to hang from a bar minutes before I was supposed to sleep almost every night,” he said. “I used reflexology insoles that claimed to stimulate increased height.”
Nothing worked except shoes with hidden heels that made him up to 3 inches taller. But they were not enough. “It was like a false dream,” he said. “Every time I took off my shoes, I faced reality again.
“My obsession grew bigger every day.”
“My Life Purpose”
After two rounds of leg lengthening surgery, Alğan added 5 inches to his height.
He didn’t tell anyone about his first operation, in February 2015, thinking they wouldn’t understand.
It made him 2.4 inches taller. When people noticed, he said he had a bone deformity and needed surgery to correct it.
He had another surgery in March 2020 which increased his height by another 2.4 inches.
The operation changed his perspective so much that he quit his job as a consultant and founded his own Turkey-based clinic offering leg lengthening surgery. He is the main coordinator and his team consists mainly of other people who have undergone the operation.
“I realized that there were many people who wanted to have this surgery done in Turkey, but not many options to consult or even get more insight regarding the limb-leg lengthening process,” he said.
His clinic, Wanna Be Taller, charges between $70,000 and $150,000 depending on whether the patient wants to grow 3, 4, 5 or 6 inches.
He said he didn’t think about running a leg-lengthening business until he had the surgery. “My only goal – I might even call it my life – was to get taller.”
A new group of patients
Bone lengthening surgery has been a hot topic in recent months. It was originally used to treat people with legs of different lengths, but it is now used by patients who want to become taller.
Kevin Debiparshad, a Harvard-educated surgeon known as one of the world’s leading limb and leg lengthening surgeons, said the procedure involves cutting the leg bones – either the femur (upper leg bone) or the tibia (shin bone).
“I make four to six tiny, small incisions in the bone, creating a window to access the hollow part of the bone, where I insert a device that responds to an external remote that the patient will control at home,” Debiparshad said.
The remote control is used by the patient to increase the height by 1 millimeter a day after the operation, in a process that is usually painless.
He told Insider that increased media coverage and reduced stigma surrounding cosmetic procedures has opened up the procedure to a new group of patients.
“Traditionally, the majority of my patients are younger, short men who want to increase their height. However, we see many older patients, individuals of average height, female patients and even those looking for height reduction surgery,” he said. “This latter group includes people who change gender and want their bodies to be more aligned with how they perceive themselves.”
“Now I can see myself as a real adult”
Alğan said his life has changed “dramatically” since he got taller.
“When I put on a suit, I used to feel like a kid, but now I can see myself as a real adult,” he said. “I hear the phrase ‘this outfit suits you’ more and it positively affects me in many aspects of my life.
He likes that he doesn’t have to look up when talking to people, and it allows him to “think more healthily and thus make better decisions”.
He said his new job running the clinic has similarities to his old role as a counselor: “I support people who have mental health issues to grow taller.”
“People don’t make jokes about my height anymore,” he said. “As a leader, I don’t think there is anything more valuable than self-confidence, which I have now.”