Rib Removal

Q: Dr. Eppley, I just recently read an article that said that you did a rib removal surgery on a woman. This is something that I have been interested in for a very long time. I was born with a disfigured ribcage and there’s nothing I hate more. The left rib protrudes more then my left side! I used to have pectus excavatum, I had a surgery where the doctor inserted a metal bar in my chest which was removed! Please let me know if you can help me. I feel like this is something that I need to actually be happy with my body.

A: Thank you for sending your pictures for consideration for rib removal surgery. Your subcostal protrusion is due to the prominence or bowing out primarily of ribs #7 and #8. (and a little bit from #9) This is not uncommon in pectus excavatum which you obviously had having undergone the Nuss procedure. (placement of the pectus bar and its subsequent removal) It would be necessary to remove ribs #8 and #9 and either do a shave or beveling of #7. (subtotal removal) The only aesthetic issue with this rib removal surgery is that you need a direct subcostal incision to do so. You would need a 6 to 8cm along the subcostal margin on each side. One has to decide whether a fine line scar is a better aesthetic concern than that of the rib protrusion.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana