Rib Shave

Q: Dr. Eppley, I am interested in rib shave surgery. I think what I have what is called costal cartilage protrusion on my left ribcage. My right ribcage is normal. I have done some research and some say it can be shaved down. If possible, I  would like to have my rib shaved down so it looks normal like my right side. I would also like to know the downtime for such a procedure. Attached are some pictures. Thank you for your time.

A: Thank you for sending your excellent pictures. You are correct as that is protrusion of the lateral cartilaginous portions of ribs # 8,9 and maybe a bit of #7. A cartilage shave procedure of this protrusion would be the appropriate procedure through a 3.5 cm long skin incision right underneath it. Because the dissection passes through the rectus muscle (split vertically) there will be some soreness for awhile. This is ameliorated for the first few days through the use of Exparel injections placed at the time of surgery into the muscle as well as intercostal nerve blocks. This is a local anesthetic that will last for up to three days after surgery. Some soreness will persist for about a month after surgery as one would expect. When you could return to work depends on what type of work you would be doing and when you feel comfortable doing it.

Dr. Barry Eppley
Indianapolis, In