Copyright 1993 Moscow News
July 30, 1993
A man grows by one millimetre a day
BYLINE: Irina FROLOVA,
HIGHLIGHT: An international centre of anthropometrical cosmetology*) is being organized in Volgograd. Now every healthy person needs only one or two years, a certain amount of will and some money to become beautiful.
BODY: Only a couple of years ago the idea of a certain concern specializing in transforming ordinary people into beautiful women and handsome men evoked an ironic smile. Today many of former sceptics (including VIPs) are eager to buy the concern's shares or at least make friends with its organizers in order to secure a place at the future clinic.
The prospect of substantially improving one's good looks is in itself alluring. But the evil fairy of beauty demands, besides gold and silver, such sacrifices as labour and patience. Complete restoration requires about two years. At first psychotheraputists and sports medics strengthen the patient's general health (those who wish may be weaned forever from the habit of drinking and smoking). After that vigorous exercises will prepare the body for serious tests in endurance.
The first to attack the deficiencies will be dentists who will replace bad teeth with flawless articificial implants (made at the Kharkov Stomatological Institute). After that cosmetology surgeons will correct the nose, ears or chin, remove folds of fat and make other necessary plastic operations. After that there will be another short course of health building preparatory to the treatment of the skin. In Volgograd they plan to use prolonged fasting under doctors' control. It will get rid of unnecessary kilograms and rejuvenate the skin. The organism also becomes more responsive to physical loads, so it will be possible quickly to build up muscles after the course. Included in the project is also a course of treatment of pathological balding and various methods of improving the quality and structure of hair. During the final stage of the programme the patients will be cured of something no one else attempts to do anywhere else in the world: the form and length of bones. Minor corrections will give them slender and beautiful arms and legs, and they can also grow seven-ten centimetres taller. These operations will be made by specialists of a new and promising branch of commercial medicine, known as anthropometrical cosmetology.
Gavriil Ilizarov began to lengthen his patients's legs back in the 60s. The gravest congenial or acquired bone pathologies were corrected within a couple of months. The same method may be used without much difficulties to lengthen the legs of a healthy person. This, however, was forbidden by instructions of the Ministry of Public Health, so doctors refused to operate on healthy people even for great remuneration. They were intimidated by the sad experience of their teacher. About 20 years ago Professor Ilizarov yielded to the persuasion of a student and helped him become taller. The experiment was successful but the doctor nearly landed in the dock. The pretext for his prosecution was the absence of a state permission to conduct experiments on healthy people. Since then the specialists of the Kurgan orthopaedic centre and of all of its branches have been treating only people who were really sick. Yet every surgeon has had to break the senseless taboo at least once in his life. One of Ilizarov's first and favourite pupils, Anatoly Kaplunov told an MN correspondent a typical story. He conducted a "prohibited" cosmetic operation in 1978. His patient was Lena S., a nine form schoolgirl whose legs were crooked from birth. Another girl could be reconciled with her destiny and meekly carry her cross. But Lena was tortured by her acquaintances and attempted to take her life several times. She was saved by a surgical operation. And two years later the charming, slim and long-legged Lena S. invited the doctors to her wedding.
Five years ago Mikhail Goldreyer was an ordinary electrician at the Volzhsky Tube Factory. Before that he got acquainted with the problems of short men anxious to increase their height.
Mikhail was inspired by the idea of transforming the achievements of Russian orthopeadics into an official and profitable branch of modern medicine. As is often the case, nobody believed in the project's reality, especially when Goldreyer wanted to become the first healthy patient of Ilizarov's disciples.
To begin with, the 42-year-old man decided that he should grow taller than his 170 centimetres. To this end he interviewed all prominent orthopeadists in the country. He worried officials of the Ministry of Public Health, appealed to the conscience of people's deputies and sought ideological support at the Philosophical Society of the USSR and even the Komsomol Central Committee. He resorted to all thinkable and unthinkable methods, from actions of students' protest to an open political rostrum (since 1990 Goldreyer is a deputy of the Volzhsky City Council.
The problem was solved by time. The Union disintegrated, and there was less official pressing on medics. In the spring of 1992, candidates of medical science Anatoly Kaplunov and Mikhail Yegorov, performed, to Mikhail's great joy, an operation on a healthy man. The words "lengthening of the shin" oppeared for the first time in a patient's card.
A year later Goldreyer came to Moscow to demonstrate to the top medical authorities his shins which had grown by six centimetres and became obviously straightened. In a year's time he will rejuvenate his skin with the help of fasting and build up his muscles. After a series of plastic operations and the acquisition of a Hollywood smile Mikhail intends to lengthen his hip bones. Doctors are in no hurry about the second operation which, they think, will upset the body's proportions. But Coldreyer can't wait to become a live advertising sample of a new branch of medicine.
The entire operation lasts an hour and a half under local anaesthesia. It is absolutely bloodless and almost stitchless. It is, incidentally, monitored by a computer on a special programme. The bone is no longer crushed by a chisel. Through four cosmetic incisions the surgeon does, with the help of special wire an accurate Z-shaped saw cut (M. Yegorov's invention). After that the leg guided by Ilizarov'a device grows by one millimetre a day. Long hospitalization is not necessary (the patient must spend at the hospital the first 7-10 days). The patient may grow at home because he remains capable of walking. It takes only 2-3 months to correct the form of legs, and one can increase one's height by 6 centimetres in less the half a year.
Mikhail Yegorov is in charge of a division of the orthopaedic centre of Volgograd city hospital No.3 where they work by Ilizarov method. He manages to put on their feet very difficult of even hopeless patients, first of all because he is a unique engineer surgeon. He has patented more than 20 inventions. He designs apparatuses and devices which help bones accrete after grievous wounds.
It has always been especially difficult to treat patients whose fragments of bones were absent after wounds. The methods employed previously were ineffective, since alien bones accreted badly. Yegorov found a fantastically simple solution. A special device helps grow on the healthy leg a bone tissue of the required size. After that the young bone is implanted where necessary.
Several people who wish to grow come to Yegorov during his reception hours. So far, however, it is very difficult to help everyone, to make the method work as an assembly line.
*) Anthropometrical cosmetology (from Greek "anthropos" - man, "metron" - measure, "kosmetike" - the art of beautifying, "logos" - science) is a science of making a person beautiful through changing his bones. (From a modern dictionary of foreign words).