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October 5, 2007

What Some Women Will Do for Beauty

Would you saw your legs in half for a few inches?

Would you saw your legs in half for a few inches?

Photo Credit: David Butow/Redux

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EXTREME MAKEOVER, PART 2: Leg lengthening

WHY IT'S DONE: The Chinese are so height-conscious, jobs and even schools often post height requirements. To apply for the foreign ministry, women must be 5'3" (the national average), whereas flight attendants must be at least 5'5". As a result, being tall — or short — can have a direct impact on one's livelihood.

HOW IT WORKS: Calf and shin bones are broken and pierced with steel pins, which are fixed to an external frame with screws. Then stretching — by means of turning those screws and lengthening the bone at the point where it was broken — is carried out over the next several months. The steel pins are left in for another year as support for the newly regenerated bone.

RANGE OF GROWTH: 1 to 5 inches.

COST: $15,000 to $25,000

RISKS: Horror stories include misshapen legs, feet that splay outward, and bones that never heal properly and break easily. In November 2006, China restricted the procedure to select hospitals that offer post-surgical care and rehabilitation.

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