Rib Removal

Q: Dr. Eppley, I had written to you earlier regarding defining my waist (my original email is attached with my pictures below). As you can see from my pictures, my ribcage is quite wide in frontal view.  I would like to decrease the width of my ribcage to give more femininity (narrowness) to my upper body, as well as to give some length to my short torso. My protruding ribs don’t bother me, it’s the width that I dislike.

I am 5’3″ and I am 120lbs. I am not overweight and I don’t intend on losing any weight. I’ve always had an athletic body, I am naturally driven to exercise and I have a healthy relationship with food.

I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and advice, as well as what improvements I could achieve with surgery. 

I look forward to hearing from you.

A: Thank you for sending your pictures. If I interpret your description and objectives properly, it is the width of the ribcage rather than its anterior protrusion that is your concern. This concern is a bit different than the classic desire for a reduction in the anatomic waistline. (ribs #11 and 12 and sometimes part of #10) or reduction of an anterior lower ribcage protrusion. (ribs # 7,8 and 9) Rather it is a reduction in the width of the ribcage further up at the sides. (ribs # 8,9 and 10) While this technically can be done, this is the area where partial rib removal has the greatest potential for exposure of the pleura (outer lining of the lung) as this is where the lower lobes of the lung exist. So the potential risk of a pneumothorax is greatest in this area. Whether rib removal in this area for aesthetic purposes is worth that risk is an issue up for debate. This area of rib removal is also different in that the incision to access it would be on the sides directly over the area. (which is not necessarily an aesthetic disadvantage)

Dr. Barry Eppley
Indianapolis, Indiana