In some cases, leg length discrepancy can be corrected by shortening the longer leg. Generally, bone shortening is limited to those who have finished growing and have reached their full height potential.
Leg shortening or restricting is considered for smaller differences in leg length (usually less than 5 cm or 2 in.). The longer bone is cut, and a section is removed. Then the ends of the cut bone are joined together.
During healing, fixation is necessary to hold the bone in place. Either a metal rod is inserted down the center of the bone, or a metal plate with screws is placed on the bone. This metal rod is usually removed after one year.
Bone shortening can pose significant risks and, in the case of a leg length discrepancy, it will make your full potential height shorter than if leg lengthening surgery was used to achieve limb equality. If too much length is removed from a bone, muscle weakness can be a permanent side effect. Additionally, there is a risk of nonunion, when a bone fails to heal properly, causing pain that may last months or even years.
After bone shortening surgery, it is common to spend two to three weeks in the hospital, and sometimes a cast may be placed on the leg for three to four weeks. Muscle weakness is common, but it often can be resolved with physical therapy. Crutches are generally necessary for six to eight weeks, and it may take six to 12 weeks to regain normal knee control and function.