4 : ALLONGEMENT (2 FEMURS), FEMME, 22 ANS, 1.44 m, +94 mm

My 9.4cm with Dr. Guichet

I have always wanted to be taller as I am a very short individual and so my research for LL started about 7 years ago when I first discovered that such an operation exists. At the time there was Swings board—not sure if any of you know it but it had a variety of very useful information with past patients, just like this site but at the time it was very active.

On there I started researching about all the different methods and the different doctors performing them. After a lot of reading, I narrowed it down to Dr. Guichet and Dr. Paley. I emailed both and soon after I scraped off Dr. Paley for a couple of reasons. Firstly he told me that 5 cm is the maximum he would allow and secondly if I were to do the operation with him then I would have to use a wheelchair for a few months before I moved onto crutches. This of course is unacceptable to me as I wanted to be on my feet as soon as possible with as much gain as I can get.

Ever since then, I have focused on Dr. Guichet’s method as I found him to be the best and most competent doctor for this type of surgery. As you know, this isn’t a small procedure and to make sure you have the least possible risk you must choose 1) an excellent method and 2) an even more excellent surgeon. To me the Albizza method and Dr. Guichet best covered the criteria.

Once I knew where I wanted to have my surgery, I started planning when I was going to do it, which wasn’t easy since I was studying at the time and I didn’t want to take noticeable time off and have people find out what I was doing. I had to postpone my plans several times for personal reasons and finally I was able to go for a consultation.

I met with Dr. Guichet and he spent quite some time explaining the procedure, the mechanism and any questions that I had. One of the things he told me was that it’s important to build up my muscles to prepare myself for the surgery as it will help with the lengthening and the recovery. And so I spent a year before my surgery going to the gym and building my muscle mass. I did that for on and off a year and I was able to build quite a bit of muscle which I’m happy about!

Anyways fast forward to surgery time. I was finally able to find the time and schedule my surgery. When I arrived to France I had all the blood work with me that Dr. Guichet required and I had 3 cybex tests done—one before my training, one half way during it and one right before the surgery and you can see the progress of my muscle increase on there. You don’t need to do 3 cybex tests but I happened to do 3 because my plans kept getting postponed after I did the cybex.

Additionally I had brought with me plenty of DVDs to keep me entertained and of course my laptop. I saw him twice before the surgery, one of which I had to sign some papers. Before my surgery I saw an anesthesia doctor that examined me to make sure I will have no problems with the anesthesia. You actually receive a general anesthesia right before the surgery and an epidermal—the epidermal being first. And that was it, I was all set for the surgery.

THE OPERATION

I was admitted to the hospital the night before and I had to take a shower with beta dine that night and the next day in the morning right before the surgery. The day of the operation had finally come! I wasn’t nervous at all, even when they came and took me to the operating room. All these years that I had done my research and dreamed of this moment has finally arrived, I was happy!! Once in the surgery room, I passed my Dr. Guichet and he smiled at me and patted my shoulder telling me everything’s going to be great, which reassured me. I was wheeled further into a room where my Dr. Louge-the anesthesia doctor- and another were there. They had me sit up and they gave me the epidermal. For the first time I started feeling a bit nervous, my legs started shaking and I couldn’t control them! After that they laid me down and gave me the general anesthesia, I was out in less than 10 seconds.

Next thing I knew I woke up in my room and I remember the nurses putting a shirt on me, it was kind of fuzzy but that day I had absolutely no pain at all. I even had to look at my legs a couple of times to check if they had operated on me or not!! I guess it was all the morphine and medicine that made me feel nothing. That night I was able to sleep for a bit.

The next day I woke up feeling alright. At about 8 am a nurse came in gave me my medicine and my breakfast. The nurses there are very nice, even though only one of them spoke English the rest were still very nice and helpful. Later that day Dr. Louge came to check on me, she told me that I took the anesthesia very well and there were no problems at all. Some time later Dr. Guichet came with 2 booklets in his hand. One had descriptions of several exercises which I’m supposed to do everyday and the other was a logbook where I had to write down the number of clicks I do everyday along with the time I did them, the pain I felt if any and how many minutes it took me to perform them.

He told me the surgery went well, there was little blood loss and everything was good. He gave me 7 mm during the operation which is equivalent to 105 clicks. He then proceeded to show me the exercises that I was supposed to do and that was the first time I felt pain after the surgery. And I think it was partly because I had just come out of surgery thinking that my legs are the most fragile things in the world and all of a sudden I had someone pushing them all the way to my chest! It was quite scary and painful but I have to admit I was glad he did that because when I went to my hotel I wasn’t scared to stretch them hard coz I knew it is possible to do. After that he showed me how to do a click and then had me do 5 mins of bike. He left after and told me he would pass by the next day.

Second day post-op I had very little pain, even though I had a morphine pump right next to me, I barely used it throughout my hospital stay. Dr. Guichet came again and answered my questions, spent some time with me and left. That day I was able to do 30 mins on the bike.

On the 3rd day post-op I woke up, had my breakfast and one of the nurses came and changed my dressings. At about 3.00pm I was ready to leave the hospital. Walking on the walker was very tiring. Although I had gone to the gym and built up my leg muscles, I completely didn’t pay any attention to my arms, and so they were hurting since I wasn’t used to carrying my body weight on my arms-which is something I recommend everyone who is doing the surgery to do. Anyways once outside the taxi arrived however it was a van taxi—which leads me to the second point to suggest—make sure u always order a small taxi!!!! Just a regular sized car because the van taxis have high seats and it is very difficult to get up to-I had a hard time getting on that seat.

Once I finally arrived to my hotel, again I had a hard time walking since not only my arms hurt but my hands too from all the pressure on them. That day I relaxed for a few hours and started doing my exercises.

DAILY ROUTINE

My first 2 weeks after surgery were the toughest because it was hard to do simple things such as brush my teeth without feeling like I had to sit down after 2 mins. One of my parents was with me during the first 15 days and it was a big help. At first it was hard lowering myself onto the toilet and once I did I needed someone to help me get up. Also I couldn’t sleep well at night- a lot of the times I found myself staring at the ceiling hoping I would sleep again. You can only sleep on your back at the beginning because it’s not comfortable being on your side, but after some time its fine. However every day gets better and you improve drastically. After 2 weeks I was able to do everything on my own, even cook—but for that I would put a chair next to the stove coz it’s hard to stand up all the time. And from there on life pretty much became a routine.

Dr. Guichet gives you an option where for an additional price, you’ll get 4 personal trainers that train with you for 2.5 hours in the morning and 2.5 hours in the afternoon Monday-to Friday and Saturday morning. I did that, so everyday I had someone come to me in the morning and afternoon for 2.5 hours where each session consisted of :

1) bike: I did 15 to 60 mins in one go depending on how I felt, but on average I did an hour and a half of biking a day

2) exercises: I went through one set of exercises with them each time, which took approx 45 mins, sometimes more. Each set included about 8 exercises at first but as time passes you keep adding more since you’re stronger and can do more.

3) Compex/ swimming pool/ walking: at the beginning after the operation, I used to do compex for about the first month and a half. Each time I would do something different, sometimes muscle building, or massage or lymphatic drainage or cappilarization. After, when my scars healed I started swimming in the pool for about 30 mins 3 times a week. And once I started using the crutches, I practiced walking with them with the trainers -- eventually I started walking outside on the sidewalk with them for 30 mins a day.

If you want the price of training you should ask Dr. Guichet because I know he recently added some things to this ‘plan’ where there’s a nutritionist that helps you with what foods you should eat, according to your body. But the nutritionist was introduced after I was done so I didn’t have her.

So each day, I’d wake up at 7 am, do my clicks, wash up, have breakfast and wait for the trainers to come. Once they came I’d ride my bike for about 45 mins, sometimes more and sometimes less. I’d then do my stretching exercises which took about 45 mins and I’d finish off with the compex. For those of you that don’t know, compex is an electrical stimulation machine that works your muscles. You can choose different programs such as muscle building, muscle relaxing…depending on how you feel. I’d finish at around 11.30 and after I’d have my lunch. Then I’d take my medicine at 12 pm and relax. Sometimes I’d watch TV, other times I’d go on the internet or watch my DVDs or even nap. At around 2.30 pm, the other trainer would come and so again I’d bike, do my exercises and do my compex. This is what I pretty much did in the first month post-op. Also in the first month, I’d do additional biking and stretching on my own as I found that helped in reducing or eliminating whatever pain I felt. Doing compex or applying an ice pack also helped with the pain.

The pain the first few weeks after surgery is quite manageable, I was surprised coz I expected much more pain that what I felt. You have to know that at the beginning the pain keeps moving from place to place. For example one day it would be on my left lower thigh, the next on my upper right knee

The second month was pretty much the same except I reduced my sets of exercises to just 2—which I did when the trainers came. I also started practicing walking in the corridor with my crutches after I’d finish with my compex. Let me just explain that when you first start using crutches you move with them as if you were hopping, so two legs at a time, and later when your muscles are stronger you start to walk one leg in front of the other. At first it was hard because I didn’t know how to use the crutches and it was painful to move my legs since I hadn’t done so in quite a while. So at the beginning my walk was very slow, but bit by bit it got better until I was able to walk properly with them (one leg in front of the other), which was probably in my 3rd month.

Also in my 3rd month I started using the swimming pool and I started walking outside on a big sidewalk, which was really nice because it was refreshing to see people and cars and just normal life. I felt it helped stretch my muscles more, keeping my flexibility longer. Also swimming in the pool was good for me because I was able to move my legs in all sorts of directions that I could not do while sitting on my bed.

Fortunately I never developed flexion even at the end of my lengthening when I was at 9.4 cm, I had none whatsoever. I feel that the reason for that is because I am a very flexible person, I did gymnastics for many years and my muscles are very elastic. Right after surgery I was able to touch the heel of my leg to my bum and I continued doing that up to 5 cm. Dr. Guichet was very impressed with my flexibility. After that I slowly started losing some flexibility. But about 3 weeks after the end of lengthening I was able to touch the heel of my leg to my bum again!! By then I’d say about 80% of my flexibility was back.

Ratcheting

Ratcheting for me was very easy. At the beginning I didn’t know how to click because I was new to it so I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to place my leg but once I got the hang of it, it was very easy. For me Ratcheting remained easy during the whole lengthening phase. It varies between different people but I was one of the ‘luckier’ ones, and apart from a couple of difficult moments, I had no problems at all.

Here is a little summary on how many clicks I did post-op. I did my clicks at three intervals, 7am, 3pm and 11pm.
During the surgery: I received 105 clicks (which equal 7mm) Week 1: 21 clicks a day (7 at each interval)
Week 2-week4: 15 clicks a day
Week 5- week 10: 12 clicks a day
Week 11- week 12: 10 clicks a day
Week 13- week 16: 9 clicks a day

I did 9.4cm in 16 weeks.

The reason why Dr. Guichet kept reducing my clicks is because I wanted to gain a lot of cm’s. I was aiming for 10 cm and to be able to do that you need to reduce your clicks so that your muscles adapt and you can keep going to higher gains. There was a guy that did the surgery one week after me and from the start he just wanted 6 cm and he clicked 15 clicks a day from the beginning until he got his 6cm. Dr. Guichet keeps adjusting the number of clicks you do according to your potential gain and how much your muscles can handle. There is a girl that also did the surgery while I was there and because she had rapid calcification she did 21 clicks a day for 3 weeks, so I guess it depends on your body.

PAIN

Pain varies a lot. On average the whole experience wasn’t as bad as I had expected it to be. The first 3 weeks there was minimal pain, but again the pain moves- so one day it’s on your right thigh, the next it’s on you left knee, the next it’s on your back thigh so it’s not consistent. But I found that the more gain I did after 4.5 cm the less pain I had. Once I reached 5 cm I had virtually no pain. 6, 7, 8, 9 cm I had NO pain except for the occasional pinch here and there. I asked the trainers about this and they told me that they found that most patients feel most pain between 4-6cm and after that there is barely any pain, even when you go as high as 9 or 10cm.

SCARS

I have 3 scars on each leg, one next to my knee on the side, and 2 more at the top of my thigh/butt also on the side. The ones at the top are very small and very thin straight lines, about 1.5cm each. The one on my knee is a bit longer, id say about 4-5cm but it is a very thin line. The scars fade and become white after some time. I’m really happy about the scars and I’m a girl!!!!!!

SETBACKS

I was unlucky enough to be allergic to the dressing that I used on my scars. It turned out that I’m allergic to the actual glue on the dressing. So I got a rash all over my body and redness around my scars. I treated that fairly quickly but it was definitely a nuisance. Another thing that I had was a hematoma, which is a small internal bruise. I’m not sure why I got it, it could be that I bumped my leg onto something but it hurt for only a day. I did an ultrasound and it turned out to be a small one thankfully. Other than that I had no complications. My back did bend in slightly which is normal with LL but 3 weeks after the end of lengthening it had straightened up to almost just like before surgery.

TIMELINE

So I figure some of you would want to know how long after the surgery I started doing certain things and I’m going to try and remember as best as I can.
Day 0 – operation
Day 1 – started using my walker, started doing the bike and began my daily exercises
Week 5 – started practicing walking on my crutches in the corridor
Week 8- started actually using my crutches whenever I left my room, whether it was to go for a walk or to go to Dr. Guichet but I have to admit I was one of the ‘later’ ones. The guy that did the operation one week after me started using crutches 3 weeks BEFORE me!!!!!!!! I personally was too scared to start early, I preferred to wait a bit longer until I was very comfortable with using them, even though Dr. Guichet himself was telling me to start using them a couple of weeks earlier.
Week 17 – started practicing walking with no crutches or anything in the corridor.
Month 6 – I would use one crutch when I went grocery shopping or wherever. Sometimes I would walk with nothing but I’d have to sit down after 10 mins because my back would start to hurt. Month 7 – I stopped using crutches at all and started walking everywhere with no support. But I had a noticeable wobble Month 8 – my wobble became less noticeable
Month 9 – my wobble is almost gone, not many people can notice it other than myself

And every month after my wobble would become less and less until it went away. During my time in Marseille, I was able to shop, go to the beach, watch a ballet and go to several restaurants, I’m not sure there are many other methods that will let you do that. I truly believe this is the best and safest method of LL for this type of procedure.

This is pretty much the summary of my experience as best as I can remember it. I have not mentioned certain aspects of the surgery such as costs or excuses I came up with to leave my country for so long, and I would appreciate if you people don’t ask me such questions. I’m trying to be informative about the surgery itself and not any other external issue. Everything else you can pretty much get off this forum.

And now all I can say is that I’m verrrrrrrry happy to have done this. I have been dreaming about this for yearsss and finally I got to do it and do it well. I feel my results wouldn’t be as good as they were had I chose another method, but from the start I had my mind set on albizza. I feel that Dr. Guichet is an excellent doctor that knows exactly what he’s doing—he invented this method!!! So he definitely knows his stuff---and knows it well. He used to monitor my progress every single week and gave me his cell phone in case I ever needed to call him. He has this method perfected, with recovery times shorter than other procedures. He is a genius and I am very grateful to him.

Anyways I know this is a long post, but I just wanted to give back to the community that I learnt so much from and hopefully people will find my experience useful to them.