How Is Rib Cage Narrowing Done?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I am interested to find out about a surgery known as ribcage reduction or waistline narrowing. The lower part of my ribs stick out and makes my body look funny. I would like that area to be more narrow or go in. I have heard that some of the ribs can be removed which will make for more of a tapered look. How is this surgery done and what is the recovery like?

A: Rib removal is a real operation that can be done. It specifically refers to removal of any of the ribs on the lower end of the rib cage, from 8th to the 12 th ribs. All of these ribs are largely made of cartilage with some bone on the back end of them. Usually only the cartilage portion is removed. Which cartilaginous ribs are removed is matter of what one is trying to achieve. This is not, however,  a waistline narrowing procedure since the ribs do not go down that low. This is to achieve a more narrow upper trunk/abdominal region around the ribcage area. This operation is, however, fairly ‘radical’ since it will leave a small scar and is associated with a fair amount of pain afterward. Realistically it would take four to six weeks to have most of the discomfort subside.   

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana