Woman with dwarfism suffered horror ‘leg stretching’ surgeries to reach 4ft 11

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A yoga teacher who was born with dwarfism has been putting herself through excruciating 'limb lengthening surgery' since she was a teenager to be able to grow 14 inches.

Kristen DeAndrade suffered from the rare genetic condition achondroplasia dwarfism which prevents bone growth in the legs and arms.

And by the time she was 12, she decided to undergo terrifying bone-breaking surgery to reach her dream height.

She claimed that struggles as a child played a vital role in her decision to go through with the procedure in June 1998.

The 36-year-old from West Palm Beach, Florida, was able to stretch from 3ft9 to 4ft11 – but the treatments have seemed to cause problems with the dwarfism community, according to Mail Online.

Kristen said: "I saw the surgery as a way of living a more functional, independent life in a world built for a person of average height.

"As a child, I experienced a lot of medical difficulties because of my achondroplasia, like ear infections.

"I also struggled to navigate through public places. Toilets were too high, and I couldn't reach light switches.

"My school had to adapt everything for me, I had my own table with little boxes to help me get up to my chair."

The procedures were carried out by limb lengthening specialist, Dr Paley from the Maryland Centre For Limb Lengthening And Reconstruction.

The author had repeated sessions over the course of four years.

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The surgery involved Kirsten's bones being broken and adding external fixators to help stretch out the healing bone.

A hole is then drilled into the leg bone to break it into and a metal rod is then inserted and held in place by screws.

The rod is slowly lengthened until the patient reaches the desired height and the bones can then heal back together.

During the surgery on her arms, the doctor corrected an elbow deformity which allowed her arms to hang down.

She gained four inches to her arms and was free of chronic pain.

However, some people in the dwarfism community have slammed the surgery as cosmetic and disagreed with her decision.

She said: "There are some people in the dwarfism community who claim it to be cosmetic surgery.

"They have said that I should love my body for who I am and that I should be ashamed for wanting to be like everyone else."

But she has defended her decision, adding: '" knew from a young age that I wanted the surgery. Both my parents Lynn, 73 and Joe, 70 are both of average height.

'From the start, they supported me in my decision making. For me, the surgery was my view into the future.

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"'A future of being independent and the ability to navigate an average-sized world free of pain.

"Adults with dwarfism tend to have a lot of health issues, and after my limb lengthening, I've delayed a lot of those problems."

Kristen now advocates for the procedure and a motivational speaker and has written a book titled Little Legs, Big Heart.

  • Family
  • Plastic Surgery

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