An American father of two has had limb-lengthening surgery to increase his height from 6ft to almost 6ft 7in after deciding his legs were “too short” for his body, and hopes to feel “on top of the world” once the 100,000 euro (£86,000) procedure has fully healed.
Brian Sanchez, 33, a mortgage broker who lives in Georgia in the United States with his wife, Nidia, 30, and their daughters, Kaisley, two, and Kairi, six, felt in January 2022 that his body was “out of proportion” and he looked like “like a huge thumb”.
After some research, he discovered he could have limb-lengthening surgery in Turkey to become his ideal height and as soon as he saw it he thought: “OK, I guess this is what I’m doing.”
Brian’s main reasons for wanting the surgery were not only for his physical appearance but also to improve his weightlifting goals in the gym and be around nine inches taller than his wife so they will no longer be at “almost eye level”.
When he told his loved ones about his plans, they thought it was “typical of (him)” as just because “something is crazy it never means that (he) won’t do it”.
Brian had his first operation in December 2022, which involved breaking his tibia and fibula, putting a rod inside the bones, and fastening it with screws. He underwent a second procedure in March 2023 to extend his femur.
To recover, Brian had to be in a wheelchair and turn the screws with an Allen wrench four times a day, but when he is fully recovered he thinks the pain will have been “worth it” as he will be able to “enjoy being taller”.
“My wife is pretty tall – we were only about three inches apart – but once I’m fully recovered it’ll be a nine-and-a-half-inch difference,” he said.
“It’s going to be really nice just to be able to hug her and have her all the way down there on my chest instead of being almost eye level.
“One of the things that I’ll enjoy the most is being able to work out again and put some weight on my legs and have my body look a little bit more how I want it to.”
In January 2022, Brian suddenly realised his legs didn’t match his “torso proportions”.
He said: “I realised that my legs were always looking weird, and I didn’t know what it was, until one day I was sitting next to my brother-in-law who is almost 6ft 6in, and I was actually a little taller than he was.
“I thought that was weird, because I knew he was taller than I am by a lot, and we stood up, and all of a sudden, I started looking and realised my legs were too short for my body.
“I’m broad, have long arms, and I’m wide, but my short legs make me look different – I almost look like a huge thumb, like those thumb men from Spy Kids.”
After the realisation, Brian, who had never previously had cosmetic surgery, started to “not like (his) aesthetics” and decided to research ways to make himself taller.
He said: “I thought I can either find a new hobby, and give up lifting weights, or I can fix the issue.
“I started Googling and ran into the procedure from there – as soon as I saw it, I thought ‘OK, I guess this is what I’m doing’.”
Brian set himself a goal of becoming at least 6ft 6in tall and said of his loved ones’ reaction when he told them about his idea: “It was a combination of disbelief, but they also said that it is typical of me.
“I know this is a very crazy thing, it’s extremely expensive, time-consuming, difficult, painful and even risky in some respects.”
In December 2022, he had his first operation in a clinic called Live Life Taller in Turkey, which cost him 35,000 euros (£30,000).
The first procedure involved lengthening the tibia and fibula together.
“In the first surgery, they broke my tibia and fibula and hollowed out the inside of the tibia, taking out the bone marrow,” he said.
“They then put a rod inside the bone and fastened it with screws and attached the bone segments via pins to external fixators – so you have this piece of steel on the outside of your legs and have these constant open wounds that won’t close until you remove all the hardware.”.
His recovery involved being in a wheelchair and using an Allen wrench to turn a bolt on the fixators four times a day at 90 degrees to separate the bone segments a little at a time.
Brian continued to do this every day for two months, saying of his painful recovery: “The hardest part of the whole thing was the lack of sleep, but I think the pain will be worth it – once it’s all finished I’ll just be able to enjoy being taller, and hopefully feel on top of the world.”
In February 2023, the external fixators on his tibia were removed and he was around three inches taller.
In March 2023, he had the second operation, which cost him an additional 65,000 euros (£56,000), to carry out the same procedure on his femur.
He said: “I actually felt great after my femur procedure, and there was almost no pain throughout the entire process, only from lengthening from actually stretching my legs.”
Now, Brian is just over an additional three-and-a-half inches taller – making him just under 6ft 7in – but is still in a wheelchair and is waiting for it to be completely healed.
He joked: “When it’s fully healed, I’m trying to not have expectations because I don’t want to be disappointed but it’s hard to imagine that I’m not going to enjoy it.
“From the few times that I’ve already stood up, it is bizarre to see people that used to be my height come up to under my nose – it’s really weird, and it’s a lot of fun just seeing the world in a slightly different perspective.
“I can see above the fridge more easily – not that it’s that important, but it’s cool. I’ll be able to see other people’s bald spots, everything will be just different.”
Looking back on his decision to undergo the surgery, Brian said: “I didn’t need to do this procedure, but I really wanted to, and I didn’t know how hard it would be.
“So, when I made the decision to do it, I kind of over-estimated how easy it would be and under-estimated how much pain and how much difficulty would be involved.
“I don’t regret my decision, and I hope that I’m going to be really happy with the results.”