5 surprising reasons people get cosmetic leg-lengthening surgery, according to a surgeon

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5 surprising reasons people get cosmetic leg-lengthening surgery, according to a surgeon
Mahboubian standing with a patient before and after two surgeries.Courtesy of Shahab Mahboubian
  • Dr. Shahab Mahboubian has been performing limb-lengthening surgeries for more than 13 years.
  • He said pressure from social media and family members are some reasons patients come to him.
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Business is booming for limb-lengthening surgeons like Dr. Shahab Mahboubian, as a growing number of people — often men hoping the procedure will help them climb the corporate ladder — seek surgery to become taller.

Mahboubian has been performing leg-lengthening surgeries for more than 13 years and his practice in Burbank, California, has grown since he launched it more than two years ago — and so has the list of reasons patients come to him to undergo cosmetic limb-lengthening.

He shared five of the most surprising ones with Insider.

1. They're made fun of by the people who are closest to them

Mahboubian said he's had a few men who are average height or even above average height come to him for limb-lengthening surgery because a lot of the people they hang around tend to be taller than them and often make jokes about their height. On the other hand, Mahboubian said, most of his female patients are much shorter than average — they're usually below 5-feet tall — and want to feel socially accepted.

After his patients are done with the surgery, he added, they don't get made fun of for their height any more. "They gain so much confidence that they never have to think about their height."

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2. Their twin got the procedure done

Mahboubian said he's operated on five pairs of twin brothers and one pair of twin sisters — both fraternal and identical. "In some cases, one twin feels like they want to get cosmetic limb-lengthening done, but then the other twin brother just feels way too short and too different."

However, not all of Mahboubian's twin patients get leg-lengthening surgery because of their sibling. Some of them make a joint decision to undergo the procedure, he said, and they do it at different times to help each other recover.

3. They're facing pressure from social media

Mahboubian said clients send him viral video clips all the time of people asking women their preferred height in a man. "I think 95% of the women say, 'I want the one that's taller, or the one that's taller than me,'" he said. These posts, along with the "short king" movement where women celebrate short men online, have affected the way Mahboubian's patients view themselves.

"I think that's a positive movement, but the guys who are experiencing the negativity of being short don't really believe in that," Mahboubian said.

4. They have a girlfriend or wife who's much taller than them

When a man walks into Mahboubian's office with a considerably taller wife or girlfriend, he automatically knows why they've come to him. "I ask, 'Do you feel insecure when you're with her,' and reluctantly they say 'yes,'" Mahboubian said.

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Though these women are usually very supportive of their partner's current height, they also support their boyfriend's or husband's decision to undergo the procedure, he said — deep down, they want their partner to be happy and feel normal.

5. Their parents or family members are pushing them to get the surgery

When parents come in with their children, Mahboubian can tell the differences between their attitudes. Some parents want their children — most of whom are in their late teens or early 20s and already done growing — to do the surgery because they think it'll make them more confident and successful in life, but Mahboubian doesn't operate on people under 16 and said he'd never do this procedure on a patient who isn't 100% ready or is happy with their height.

Mahboubian added it's his job to educate potential patients and their parents. "I talk to the patient and to the parents, usually all in the same room," Mahboubian said. "We have a nice discussion about what their goals are and who is benefitting from this."

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