Q: Dr. Eppley, I am very interested in the rib cage narrowing surgery to achieve a thinner waistline. I am a very slender individual with a wide ribcage, so unfortunately diet and exercise alone have not been able to give me my desired silhouette. I have experimented in corsetry and own a few but the discomfort, inconvenience, and lack of real results have left me desiring something more extreme. I’m not sure which ribs I need removed but by my count it would be the 10th 9th and 8th ribs. As you can see from my pictures I do have a quite bulky rib cage so I believe narrowing anywhere above the floating ribs on its straight line would give me the desired results.
A: Ribcage narrowing, also called waistline narrowing, would be fair to be called a bit of an extreme approach. While there is a small scar on each side to access the ribs for removal, it can be a very effective procedure. It can certainly be uncomfortably initially as taking bony ribs is not without some discomfort from removing the attached intercostal muscles. Usually no more than two ribs are taken in any one location as the ribs do serve a purpose, they provide protection to what lies underneath. In addition you usually do not remove above rib #9 to stay below the level of the pleura/apices of the lungs.
Dr. Barry Eppley