Rib Removal for a Smaller Waist: Is it for Real?

by Marisa Amorasak

Rib Removal for a Smaller Waist: Is it for Real?

There’s something so undeniably sexy about a woman with an hourglass shape (hello, Marilyn Monroe and Dita Von Teese!) Regardless of a woman’s overall weight, having a defined waist and contrasting hips reflects a classic body ideal. For women born without the ladylike curves they crave, there are plenty of surgical enhancement options to choose from. Breast augmentation, Brazilian butt lifts, and tummy tucksare pretty standard procedures to getting that desirable feminine shape. People looking to take a more extreme route to a smaller waist, however, may be considering rib removal. Yes, literally the removal of one or more ribs to help slim the mid section.

Some historians claim that rib removal for aesthetic purposes has been around since the Victorian era, when corsets were the rage and teeny-tiny waists were definitive of feminine beauty. The topic of rib removal became popular once again in the 70s, when it was rumored that Cher had the procedure done to achieve a newly narrow waist. Only a few plastic surgeons in the United States perform rib removal today due to the risks and potential complications related to this surgery. Since the ribs cover some of the body’s most vital organs, it’s important to understand rib removal surgery in its entirety.

Rib Removal: The Procedure

Rib removal involves extracting the lower ribs to create a slimmer waist contour. Most commonly, the 12th, 11th, and occasionally the 10th ribs are removed. The 11th and 12th ribs are known as “floating” ribs, which means they only cover the organs from the back and not the front. The 10th rib covers both the front and back, which is why some surgeons who perform rib removal feel it’s unsafe to remove this rib.

Rib removal is performed under general anesthesia, which means the patient will be unconscious during the procedure. There is a very extensive recovery time associate with rib removal; in some cases, it may take up to six months for the pain to disappear completely. There will almost certainly be a scar left on the patient’s back, where the incisions were made.

Is Rib Removal Too Risky?

Most board-certified plastic surgeons feel that rib removal is too extreme of a procedure to be performed for cosmetic reasons. The ribcage’s essential function is to protect vital organs. Even the lowermost ribs that are removed during rib removal surgery are positioned around some very important body parts: the kidneys, gallbladder, and even part of the stomach. Generally, rib removal is executed for necessary reasons like bone cancer or developmental growth problems.

In order to meet the demand for rib removal in America, the procedure is commonly performed overseas during so-called plastic surgery vacations where safety requirements are more lax. Beware gimmicks and false claims from overseas plastic surgeons—the surgery cannot be reversed as ribs do not re-grow.

Alternatives to Rib Removal

It is very possible to achieve a small waist without undergoing rib removal surgery. In fact, many plastic surgeons say that an aesthetically pleasing waist to hip ratio has little to do with ribcage structure and much more to do with the fat distribution of that area. Cardio exercise like quick-paced walking and running can be effective at burning the fat from your waist. A tummy tuck is an effective procedure that removes fat from the midsection, instantly pulling your waist inward. Brazilian butt lifts and hip augmentation can also help achieve the look of a smaller waist by increasing the curves of the lower body.

If you’d like to learn more about your options for waist reduction, contact our representatives today. We’ll be happy to put you in touch with a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area whose priority is your well-being.

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