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  • Dr. Yuksel Yurttas

Returning to Work and Daily Life After Limb Lengthening surgery

Are you recovering from limb lengthening surgery or planning to have it and looking for guidance on how to return to your daily routines and work? You're in the right place! In this comprehensive blog post, we'll give you tips and information on how to recover and return to work and your daily life.


We'll also help you understand the recovery process, manage pain, and make the necessary adjustments to your work and daily routines. Our goal is to make your recovery smooth and successful. Whether you're a patient, a caretaker, or an employer, this post will give you the knowledge and guidance you need to support the recovery process.


Finding the Right Limb Lengthening Method for a Successful Recovery


Limb lengthening surgery is a procedure that uses internal or external devices to lengthen bones, usually in the legs. It can be done for cosmetic reasons, to correct limb length discrepancies, congenital defects, or injuries.


In recent years, limb lengthening surgery has seen significant advancements and today, patients have various options to choose from. One popular method is the LON method, which uses an intramedullary nail and an external fixator to lengthen the bone. This method allows patients to bear weight and walk during the lengthening phase, which can help speed up the recovery process.


Another advanced method is Precice 2, an intramedullary nail system that does not require external fixation. This method offers a more comfortable lengthening experience and leaves less surgical scars. In this method, patients may need to use a wheelchair during the lengthening phase and until adequate bone fusion is achieved. This can prolong recovery time as it limits the patient's mobility and ability to use their leg during the healing process. However, Precice 2 patients may receive physiotherapy during the extension phase to help improve mobility and muscle strength.


surgeon shows lengthened legs
On the left, a patient who has undergone the LON method, which uses an intramedullary nail and an external fixator. On the right, a patient who has undergone the Precice 2 method, which uses an intramedullary nail without external fixation.

The Limb Lengthening Surgery and Recovery Process Explained


The recovery process and timeline for limb lengthening surgery can vary depending on the method used, the patient's overall health, and the length and complexity of the surgery. However, in general, the treatment of a patient who does not experience any complications proceeds as follows:

  • Preoperative tests and examinations: Before the surgery, patients will undergo a series of tests and examinations to ensure they are healthy enough for the procedure. This usually takes 1-2 days.

  • Surgery: The surgery itself usually takes 1.5-2 hours.

  • Hospitalization: After the surgery, patients will be hospitalized for 5 days to be closely monitored and receive necessary post-operative care.

  • Distraction (Lengthening) and Physiotherapy Phase: The Distraction phase is when the lengthening of the bone occurs, this process takes between 60 days for 6 cm and 80 days for 8 cm (1mm/day). During this phase, patients will also receive physiotherapy to help maintain muscle strength and mobility.

  • External Fixator Removal (only in the LON Method): After the LON method distraction phase is completed and the desired height is achieved, patients will have their external fixators removed. These fixators are typically removed 1-2 weeks after the distraction phase is completed. Following the removal, patients can start walking with a walker the day after the surgery and return home to continue recovery.

  • Returning to Work and Daily Activities: 4-5 months after surgery, patients can return to their normal activities, including work and daily routines. Patients can also start walking normally and perform light sports.

  • Moderate Sports: After 6-9 months, patients can engage in moderate sports such as hiking and swimming.

  • Full recovery and ability to perform all physical activities: 9-12 months after surgery, patients are expected to be fully recovered and able to perform all physical activities including intense sports without any limitations.

mobility after full recovery

Potential Complications and How to Manage Them


While every surgery carries some risks, it's important to understand the potential complications and how to manage them. In this section, we will discuss the common complications that may occur after limb lengthening surgery and provide strategies for managing them

  • Pain: One of the most common complications of limb lengthening surgery is pain. This can be caused by the surgical procedure itself, as well as by the stretching and remodeling of the bone that occurs during the healing process. To manage pain, your surgeon may prescribe medication, and physical therapy may also be recommended to help you regain strength and mobility.

  • Infection: Another potential complication of limb lengthening surgery is infection. This can occur at the surgical site or in the bone itself. To prevent infection, your surgeon will take steps to maintain a sterile environment during the surgery and may prescribe antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection. If an infection does occur, it may require additional surgery or antibiotics to clear it up.

  • Non-union or Premature Union: Complications that may occur when the bone does not heal properly or heals too quickly. This can be due to a number of factors, including infection, poor blood flow to the bone, or a problem with the bone itself. To manage non-union or premature union, your surgeon may recommend additional surgery or the use of bone growth stimulators to promote healing.

  • Infection: One of the potential complications that can occur after limb lengthening surgery is infection. It can be caused by bacteria entering the surgical site and can lead to severe pain, fever, and redness. To manage infection, the patient may need to take antibiotics, and in some cases, the surgeon may need to remove the fixation device and clean the area.

  • Nerve damage: Can cause numbness or tingling in the affected area. This type of complications can be managed with physical therapy to help improve nerve function and reduce symptoms, nerve blocks or nerve decompression to alleviate pain and discomfort.

  • Muscle or joint problems: After the surgery, patients may experience muscle weakness, joint stiffness, or joint pain. These complications can be managed with physical therapy to help regain muscle strength, improve joint mobility and reduce pain. Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relievers, and muscle relaxants may also be prescribed.

  • Problems with fixation devices: The internal or external fixation devices may fail due to improper placement, overuse, or improper maintenance. This can cause pain, infection, and non-union. The surgeon may need to remove and replace the device, or perform additional surgeries to fix the problem.

We highly suggest researching and gaining more knowledge about the risks and complications associated with this surgery before making a decision. This will ensure that you are fully aware of what you should expect during the recovery process and the potential long-term outcomes limb lengthening surgery.


Tips for Managing Pain and Discomfort While Working


Returning to work after limb lengthening surgery can be challenging, especially during the bone consolidation and recovery phase. While the surgery itself may be over, the healing process is ongoing, and it's important to be mindful of the pain and discomfort that may still be present. Here are some tips to help you manage pain and discomfort while working:

  • Communicate with your employer: Let your employer know that you have recently had surgery and that you may need to take breaks or make adjustments to your work schedule to manage pain and discomfort.

  • Gradually increase activity: Gradually increase your activity level to avoid overwhelming your body. Start with shorter work days and gradually build up to your normal schedule.

  • Take regular breaks: Take regular breaks to rest and stretch your legs. This can help to reduce pain and discomfort.

  • Use pain medication: If prescribed by your surgeon, use pain medication as directed to help manage pain. Make sure to take it before you start your workday, so it will be most effective.

  • Don't overdo it: Listen to your body and don't push yourself too hard. If you feel pain or discomfort, take a break and rest.

It's important to remember that everyone's recovery experience is different, and it may take some time for you to fully recover from limb lengthening surgery. But by following these tips, you can help to manage pain and discomfort while working and continue your journey towards a full recovery. Remember to always consult with your surgeon if you have any questions or concerns.


How to Communicate with Your Employer About Your Limitations and Needs


Returning to work after limb lengthening surgery can be a challenge, especially if you have concerns about how to communicate your limitations and needs to your employer. Here are some tips to help you navigate this conversation:

  • Be honest and direct: Clearly explain to your employer that you have recently had surgery and that you may need to make adjustments to your work schedule or duties to accommodate your recovery.

  • Provide documentation: If your surgeon has provided you with any documentation outlining your limitations or restrictions, provide a copy to your employer. This can help to provide a clear understanding of what you can and cannot do.

  • Be flexible: Be open to discussing different options and finding a solution that works for both you and your employer. This may include working shorter hours, taking more frequent breaks, or modifying your duties.

  • Respect privacy: If you are concerned about privacy, it is important to remember that your employer does not need to know the specific details of your surgery or the reason for it. Share only the information that is necessary for your employer to understand your limitations and needs.

  • Consider an accommodation: If your limitations are long-term, you may be eligible for an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An accommodation is a change in the way things are normally done at work. Your employer may be required to make reasonable accommodations to help you perform your job.

  • Seek legal advice: If you have any concerns about your rights or feel that your employer is not accommodating you fairly, seek legal advice from an attorney or a specialist organization.

By following these tips, you can communicate your limitations and needs to your employer in a clear and respectful manner. Remember to always consult with your surgeon if you have any questions or concerns about returning to work after limb lengthening surgery.


It is also important to note that it is your right to keep your medical information private and if you don't want to share the reason for your surgery, you don't have to. It is enough to inform your employer that you had surgery and that you may need accommodations for your recovery. You can also ask your surgeon for a note that doesn't mention the reason for the surgery but states the limitations and restrictions for your recovery.


Gradual Return to Physical Activities and Exercise


After limb lengthening surgery, it's important to take a gradual approach to return to physical activities and exercise. Your surgeon will provide specific guidelines for when it is safe to begin different types of activities, but in general, it's best to start with low-impact activities and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your physical activity over time.


Examples of low-impact activities that can be started early in the recovery process include:

  • Walking: Start with short walks and gradually increase the distance and pace as you feel comfortable.

  • Swimming or water aerobics: The buoyancy of the water can help to reduce stress on the affected limb and provide a good cardiovascular workout.

  • Stationary bike or elliptical: These types of exercises provide a low-impact cardiovascular workout that can help to improve cardiovascular fitness and leg strength.

As you progress in your recovery, you may be able to add more intense activities such as:

  • Running, jumping, and other high-impact activities: These activities should be avoided for several months after surgery as they can cause excessive stress on the lengthened limb.

It's important to remember that everyone's recovery timeline is different, and you should always follow your surgeon's guidelines and listen to your body. If you experience pain or discomfort, take a break and rest.


Importance of Staying Active and Maintaining Muscle Strength


Staying active and maintaining muscle strength is essential to a successful recovery after limb lengthening surgery. As the bone is healing and growing, the muscles surrounding the bone need to be strengthened in order to support the new length of the bone. Physical therapy and exercise can help to improve flexibility and strength in the affected limb, which can help to reduce pain and discomfort and improve overall function.


Physical therapy can also help to improve balance and coordination, which can be affected by the surgery. Your surgeon or physical therapist will provide specific exercises that are appropriate for your recovery phase and goals.


It's important to note that maintaining muscle strength and staying active not only helps with recovery but also helps to prevent future injuries and can improve overall health and fitness.


How to Manage Pain and Discomfort During Normal Activities


Managing pain and discomfort during normal activities can be challenging after limb lengthening surgery. Here are some tips to help you manage pain and discomfort:

  • Take pain medication as directed by your surgeon: If you have been prescribed pain medication, make sure to take it as directed to help manage pain.

  • Use assistive devices as directed: If your surgeon has recommended the use of assistive devices, such as crutches or a cane, use them as directed to help reduce pressure on the affected limb.

  • Apply heat or cold: Applying heat or cold to the affected limb can help to reduce pain and discomfort. Ask your surgeon which one is the best option for you.

  • Rest and elevate the limb: When sitting or lying down, rest and elevate the limb to help reduce swelling and pain.

  • Avoid activities that cause pain: If an activity causes pain or discomfort, avoid it and find an alternative activity.

  • Consider physical therapy: Physical therapy can help to improve flexibility and strength in the affected limb, which can help to reduce pain and discomfort.

  • Consult with your surgeon: If you have any questions or concerns about pain or discomfort, consult with your surgeon.

Remember that pain and discomfort are normal during the recovery process, but if the pain becomes severe or persistent, it is important to consult your surgeon.


In conclusion, limb lengthening surgery can be a challenging procedure, but it can also be life-changing for many people. It is important to follow the doctor's instructions and take a gradual approach to return to work and normal activities to ensure a successful recovery. Remember to communicate with your employer about your limitations and needs, and to seek medical advice if experiencing any complications or concerns.


If you have any further questions or concerns about limb lengthening surgery, please feel free to reach out to us at WhatsApp +905339735289 or email info@dryukselyurttas.com for a free consultation and more information.

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