Rib Removal Surgery and Risk of Flank Hernia

Q: Dr. Eppley, I was reading online about rib removal and came across Pixie’s story. I am considering rib removal. I was wondering how many patients (in addition to Pixie) have you operated on that have had ribs 10-12 removed and whether any have developed flank hernias? That is my primary worry and I was wondering if you have any information you can share on that risk. Thanks very much! 

A: A flank hernia is a defect in the posterolateral abdominal wall which is s risk in certain of abdominal and spine surgery.. Since rib removal surgery does not involve the abdominal wall, as the ribs are located outside of it, a flank hernia is not a potential risk of this type of body contouring surgery used for a smaller horizontal waistline.

It is easy to understand how one might think this is a surgical risk because rib removal surgery is not well understood by patients and doctors alike. What is really being done is removal of the outer half of the ribs 10, 11 and 12. Total rib removal is not done nor is it necessary to do. Thus the supportive part of the rib closer to the spine is maintained.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana