- Rich Rotella, 38, is an actor who has had limb lengthening surgery to advance his career.
- He says it added 3 inches to his height and boosted his confidence, but it was painful.
- Rotella has no regrets and is working on a documentary about his experience.
This article is reportedly based on a conversation with Rich Rotella, a 38-year-old actor from Los Angeles, about his experience with leg lengthening surgery to advance his career. Edited for length and clarity.
I always felt the need to be taller, even as a teenager. I was 5’5″ and felt paler compared to my peers, so my mom and I sought medical advice from a doctor in Frederick County, Maryland, where I was living at the time. The doctor recommended a variety of options to increase my height, among them growth hormone, which I finally did not take.
I decided to wait to see if I would undergo a growth spurt at puberty, but in 2002, when I was 17, I broke my arm while playing basketball with my brothers and X-rays showed my growth plates closed. My doctor told me I would never be taller than 5ft 5ft. This was very frustrating, but I tried to move on.
I considered leg lengthening surgery in 2013, but it seemed too expensive
I first thought about having surgery in 2013, but I was married, and according to my research, the surgery cost over $100,000. It didn’t seem reasonable to spend that kind of money at the time.
I was an actor in Hollywood Since 2009 she has worked with a few celebrities, from Betty White to Mindy Sterling, and talented filmmakers. Over time, it felt like I was stuck in the sidekick role. So in 2019, on the eve of my 10th anniversary in Hollywood, I asked a few directors and directors to share their honest opinions about my career. They told me I wasn’t able to get leadership roles because of my height.
My main cast is usually 5ft 8 and up. This was such a shock, and I felt like I had dropped some pegs. I took a while to think about it – and then the pandemic happened. I felt like my feelings were insignificant compared to what was going on in the world.
The next step was to choose my surgeon
In October 2020, I came across a YouTube channel “Cyborg 4 Life,” Fully dedicated to information on cosmetic limb lengthening and limb variations. After going through all the videos, I was moved and decided to send a message to the creator, Victor Igono, in hopes of collaborating on a documentary about my surgery journey.
We hit it off and suggested our idea to Novasafe, the hardware company responsible for making the equipment used in surgery. After a series of discussions, the company joined the board and played an important role in providing the hardware for the procedure, which helped the documentary move forward.
Throughout the process, I kept my intentions a secret. Months before the surgery, which took place in April 2022, I shared my plans with my girlfriend. I started dating her after the divorce. She was the only one I told her before going in.
You will have surgery in good health and wake up with broken legs
After the surgery, the institute requested a three-month break in their facility, where you work with a physical therapist five times a week to regrow your bone from scratch. The surgery itself took four hours, but the recovery is the most time consuming part – it’s a slow and painful process. My movement was very limited and I was on strong medications.
The price of the procedure depends on the method you choose and whether physical therapy is included. I chose to have thigh surgery, or above the knees, and ended up spending over $100,000. My insurance didn’t cover the surgery, but I recommend that people include physical therapy sessions in their cost analysis. I have increased my height by 3 inches, going from 5 feet to 5 feet 8 feet.
Immediately after the surgery, I sent a group email to my family and friends informing them of my decision. I received mixed reactions, but many people questioned my opinion.
It is an incredibly painful experience
This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. Your bones grow back slowly: A device stretches the bars of your legs by about 1 mm per day.
You should stick to the process: Do extensive research about the type of procedure you want and the recovery process, meet the healthcare practitioners who will work with you, and follow each step of the way.
For professionals looking to do this, it is imperative that they have a backup plan. This is something that can really affect your career, because you will not be able to work for several months. And you can’t do it alone. Fortunately, I got help from my girlfriend to facilitate the trip.
This surgery boosted my confidence in exams
I’m currently working on the documentary, which is in post-production with a planned release in 2024. I’ve also started looking for opportunities to network with executives from major studios in hopes of selling the rights to my story. In the meantime, I have many other films I’m looking forward to working on.
I don’t care about the negative reactions I’ve had from people around me who still think I was wrong in doing so, because limb lengthening surgery is like any other cosmetic surgery. This is something I’ve wanted for myself all my life, and even if my Hollywood career didn’t exist, I think I would still do it.
Correction: November 3, 2022 An earlier version of this story missed the year Rich Rutella broke his arm. He broke it in 2002, not 1992.
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