Is There Any Functional Problems With Using Rib Tissue For My Rhinoplasty?

Q:  Dr. Eppley, I am interested in a rhinoplasty which builds up the bridge of my nose.I would definitely want to use a rib cartilage tissue for it due to good long term results and safety which are my main concerns. However, I still have some questions about the operation. How will the rib operation affect my ability to function? I go to gym and exercise a lot and I wondered if there might be some long term problems with the operated rib?

A: There will be no long-term sequelae/dysfunction from taking a portion of a lower rib for rhinoplasty. Not only is the rib harvest not bone but cartilage but it is a small portion of it and not the whole rib. Th function of ribs is to provide structural support to the chest wall but it would take many whole ribs being removed to destabilize that function. This is just a portion of one of the lower ribs ( 8, 9 or 10) which actually have no real function for chest wall support and pulmonary function as they lie below the level of the bottom portion of the lung.  What is associated with some rib removal is pain and discomfort. To manage this immediately after surgery I inject a 24 hour local anesthetic into the surrounding rib tissues from the harvest so one does not wake up in severe pain. While this does wear off, it gives one time to acclimate to the soreness. One can usually return comfortably in 3 to 4 weeks to exercise and more strenuous activities.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana