As humans become more and more connected to the world via social media, it’s hard to ignore the role height plays in being attractive. It’s so often an area of concern that people try just about anything to change their stature.
One new area of science that folks have gotten riled up about in the past few years is research into stem cells. These “miracle” cells have given hope to a lot of folks, height-challenged individuals included.
So what’s the news on the possible height effects of stem cells? And how does this whole process allegedly work? Aren’t stems just a part of flowers?
What Are Stem Cells Anyway?
Stem cells, also commonly referred to as somatic cells, are a type of “proto” cell. These somatic cells are particularly special because they can, in the simplest terms, become anything. We see stem cells in everything from blood to bone, and they’re fascinating because they can be taken from one individual and put into another, all the while still working as intended.
This development in the analysis of physiology has led to a whole new field of research, commonly called stem cell therapy.
What Is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell therapy is part of a broader field referred to as regenerative medicine. This still-new field of medicine aims to “regrow” parts of the human body. The ultimate purpose of this field is to be able to completely replace faulty or damaged organs and tissues from scratch.
As an example, say you suffered a traumatic accident that left you paralyzed. The hope is that eventually stems cells and regenerative research would one day be able to regrow your spine, leaving you in perfect health. While we’re still a long ways off as far as this sort of large replacement is concerned, there have been several studies and experiments showing that this could one day be possible.
So How Would Stem Cells Help Someone Grow Taller?
Right now, the only available answer lies in something called the Ilizarov technique. This is a painful, long-term surgery that often has several different complications. In the most basic terms, doctors essentially cut the patient’s legs through to the bone, then space them apart with a small machine, along with pins and an internal framework (also called a matrix).
This medical device slowly stretches your tissue while the matrix is regularly replenished with stem cells. These stem cells then turn into bone following the pattern of the matrix, creating structured new bone growth in the gap. After several months you can increase your height by as much as 4 or 5 inches.
While the Ilizarov technique has been successfully executed many times, most countries have banned the practice due to the sheer number of issues patients report during recovery. Even individuals who successfully make it through the process report problems later on, like chronic pain, bone weakness, and sometimes even early-onset arthritis.
Why Can’t They just Put The Stem Cells Into My Bones?
Some individuals have suggested this idea, but there’s a genuine issue that would prevent the stem cells from working as intended, and that’s our growth plates. Humans have plates between the significant joints of their bones. During the intense periods of growth we experience as adolescents, these plates produce the collagen and cartilage that eventually hardens into the new bone as your limbs grow. Once our bodies decide it’s over, the plates close and we’re “done cooking,” so to speak.
Basically, this means that if you put stem cells onto our joints, the most you could ever hope for is maybe some joint recovery in the future.
Unfortunately, if you want a few extra inches of height, this stem cell therapy is the wrong place to look, as our bodies growth mechanisms are already “closed for business.”