It's been a year and one month since I stopped lengthening, and my recovery is going pretty well. I still can't run for more than a minute due to pain, but my bones consolidated perfectly and after seeing the X-rays, Dr. Paley said I was ready for the surgery to remove the PRECICE II nails.

Left tibia X-ray June 2019
Right tibia X-ray June 2019

The surgery

I had the removal surgery at a hospital that partners with the Paley Institute specifically for this (SurgCenter of Palm Beach Gardens), and it was performed by Dr. Craig Robbins, Dr. Paley's associate who performed the insertion surgery with him. The cost was $28,000 and as much as I tried to get anything covered by insurance (CPT 20680), that didn't work. That brings the cost of this quadrilateral surgery + removal to $210k (as of 2018-2019). The other major cost was accommodation; see the Costs page for more.

This surgery was a piece of cake compared to the insertion. It took only 2 hours and I was walking fine with a walker afterwards. Still, the hospital forced me to hire a nurse to monitor me at my Airbnb for any complications. Fortunately, nothing happened, so I sent the nurse home the next day. It felt a bit awkward to have someone just waste time there as I was napping after the surgery. 🤷

There was some blood pooling and I had some bandages for about 5 days. Walking was painful but I managed to go to a conference.

Right after the rods removal surgery

After 5 days, I removed the bandages. Dr. Robbins tried to use the same scars to remove the rods as were used for the insertio, and that worked in most places, except on my left hip, which has some extra scars. You might be asked questions about them if you're seen naked (I wasn't).

Scars about a week after removing the lengthening nails

No longer bionic

Those bulges in the bones are completely natural and subside with time

Now that I had the rods removed, I'm back to being completely natural! The #1 benefit is that my knee pain is gone. My legs also feel more... elastic, so to say. Not that I felt the rods before (and no, they don't trigger airport security scanners, I was asked that quite a lot), but my legs felt somewhat stiff before. Now that the rods are gone, they've regained their bounce.

January 2020 update

I can also run now without pain!

Run Forrest run!

The only limitation is my cardio condition, which I didn't work that much on, and which was not helped by Covid-19 shutting down gyms. 😠 I never liked running, but using elliptical machines and stationary biked was fun and did the job with recovery, so I used those a lot. However, when the Coronavirus struck, I couldn't find access to these machines, so I returned to running, but it's not really my thing, so I didn't do it for more than 5 minutes at a time. Pre-surgery, my record was running a mile in 8 minutes or so (and nothing more than that), and maybe I'll work back up to that.

I'd say that if you're a running, that will definitely help with your recovery. If you're not, give it a try!