Leg Lengthening



This procedure corrects a leg length difference. With surgery and devices, a bone can be lengthened over a period of time. The process triggers bone growth and soft tissue lengthening.

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Adverse reaction to anesthesia
  • Infection (may be around the pins or wires that are inserted during the procedure)
  • Blood clots
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Joint stiffness
  • Bone length may not be exact, such as longer or shorter than planned
  • Muscle contraction (muscle shortens)
  • Nerve injury
  • Problems with the new bone forming

Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Chronic disease such as diabetes or obesity



This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.


American Orthopaedic Association http://www.aoassn.org 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://www.orthoinfo.org 


The Arthritis Society http://www.arthritis.ca 

Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org 


Limb length discrepancy. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00259. Updated May 2016. Accessed November 13, 2017.

Limb lengthening. International Deformity and Lengthening Institute website. Available at: http://www.ilizarov.org/ll.pdf. Accessed November 13, 2017.

Limb lengthening. Scottish Rite Hospital for Children website. Available at: http://www.tsrhc.org/limb-lengthening. Accessed November 13, 2017.

Paley D. Limb lengthening introduction. Limb Lengthening.us website. Available at: http://www.limblengtheningdoc.org/limb%5Flengthening%5Fintro.html. Accessed November 13, 2017.

Rozbruch R. Limb lengthening: An overview. Hospital for Special Surgery website. Available at: http://www.hss.edu/conditions%5Flimb-lengthening-overview.asp. Updated September 22, 2009. Accessed November 13, 2017.