17 April 2024Limb Lengthening Surgery

Growth plates, also known as epiphyseal plates or physis, are areas of cartilage located at the ends of the long bones in children and adolescents. These plates are responsible for longitudinal bone growth, which is essential for increasing height during childhood and adolescence.

Here’s how growth plates work and their general importance during the period of height increase:

  1. Structure: Growth plates are made up of cartilage tissue and are situated at the ends of long bones, such as the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and humerus (upper arm bone). They consist of layers of cells that are organized in a specific manner.
  2. Bone Growth: Longitudinal bone growth occurs at the growth plates. New cartilage cells are formed at the end of the growth plate, pushing the older cells closer to the center of the bone. As these older cells mature, they undergo a process called ossification, where they harden into bone tissue. This process lengthens the bone and contributes to overall height increase.
  3. Closure: Growth plates are not present in mature adults. As individuals reach the end of adolescence, typically in their late teens or early twenties, the growth plates gradually close and are replaced by solid bone. This process is known as epiphyseal closure. Once the growth plates close, longitudinal bone growth ceases, and individuals reach their final adult height.
  4. Importance in Height Increase: During the period of height increase, growth plates play a crucial role in determining a child’s final adult height. The rate of bone growth at the growth plates is influenced by various factors, including genetics, nutrition, hormones, and overall health. Any disruptions or abnormalities in growth plate function can affect the normal pattern of bone growth and potentially result in growth disorders or variations in height.

Understanding the structure and function of growth plates is essential for diagnosing and managing growth-related conditions such as growth hormone deficiency, skeletal dysplasias, and idiopathic short stature. Monitoring growth plate development through regular pediatric assessments can help identify any abnormalities early and facilitate appropriate interventions to optimize growth and development.

Do Growth Plates Reopen?

Once growth plates have closed, they cannot reopen, meaning individuals who have passed puberty cannot naturally increase their height. Therefore, strategies such as taking vitamin supplements, adjusting dietary habits, or engaging in specific exercises to boost height are not effective. As a result, once puberty concludes, an individual’s final height is established.

When Do We Know The Growth Plate Has Closed?

Typically, specialists use X-ray images of areas such as the hands and wrists to assess the status of the growth plates. If the images show closed growth plates, it indicates the cessation of growth and the conclusion of the individual’s potential for height increase. This evaluation is an essential part of determining final adult height.

What Can Be Done to Increase Height after The Closure of Growth Plates?

Growth plates - doctor consultation

Primarily, it should be stated that the primary factor determining height is genetics. Following genetics, societies’ average heights are shaped by economic conditions, health services, nutrition, and environmental factors. Besides these, methods like nutrition, exercise, and vitamin supplementation exist to support height growth. It’s important to remember that these three aspects can contribute to height growth only if applied before the end of puberty; however, expecting miraculous results is not realistic. A realistic perspective is necessary at this point.

Nutrition, exercise types, and vitamins do not affect height growth after puberty, indicating natural height growth is not possible post-puberty. The only option for height increase after puberty is limb lengthening surgery. Since growth plates close after puberty, no non-surgical method will yield positive results. However, it’s crucial to note that limb lengthening surgery is a complex and lengthy process. Candidates must undergo a thorough medical examination to assess their general health, bone health, blood tests, X-ray results, and any chronic illnesses before considering surgery. The surgery is only performed on individuals who have completed puberty and are in suitable health conditions. It is not applicable to individuals before puberty.

Individuals who have not completed puberty but are significantly short should consult a specialist doctor and follow their advice. At this point, it’s crucial to determine whether there’s a health issue causing the short stature or what other factors might be involved.

For other questions you might have about the relationship between growth plates and height, you can check out our article “What are Growth Plates? Can They Open Again?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *