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‘I have to be taller’: the unregulated world of India’s limb-lengthening industry


Komal never told her friends where she really went for six months last year.

The 24-year-old, from the town of Kota, in western India, went to see Dr Amar Sarin, an orthopaedic surgeon in Delhi, who made her eight centimetres (3in) taller, a procedure which involved breaking the bones in her legs and wearing a brace until she could walk again.

Her parents had to sell the family’s ancestral lands so she could get the surgery, but for Komal, the extra height is worth it. “I have so much confidence now,” she says. “I was just 4’ 6” [137cm]. People used to make fun of me and I couldn’t get a job. Now my younger sister is doing it, too.”

In a country where height is considered attractive, Komal is one of a growing number of young Indians using their increasing prosperity to improve their marriage and career prospects, and fuelling a cosmetic surgery boom.

However, limb lengthening surgery is completely unregulated in India and many of the surgeons performing it lack experience. As it also carries a certain stigma, the Guardian has chosen not to reveal Komal’s real name.

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