Rib Removal Surgery – Overview

Rib removal surgery is an operation that is performed to remove one or more ribs. Humans have 24 ribs (12 pairs) and some have 13 pairs. The first seven sets of ribs are termed “true ribs” as they are directly attached to the sternum or breastbone. The remaining five sets are termed “false ribs”. Three sets out of the false ribs are attached to a cartilaginous tissue and the last two sets of these false ribs are known as “floating ribs” as they are not attached to any tissue at front but only to the vertebrae at the back. The ribs protect the lungs, heart and other internal organs of the thorax. However, ribs removal surgery may be performed for various reasons.

Rib Removal Surgery

Rib Removal Surgery

Reasons for Rib Removal Surgery

The procedure is done for medical and aesthetic reasons.

Medical Removal – Rib removal may be medically approved as the best course of action in different situations.

  1. Rib Fracture – A fractured rib is usually a result of a fall or accident. Prolonged coughing and sports with repetitive movement, such as golf, can also cause a rib fracture. In most cases, fractured ribs usually heal on their own in one or two months. If a rib is fractured in such a way that it might puncture a vital organ, it may be safer to remove it than wait for it to heal.
  2. Cancer – Cancers spread from affected tissues to health tissues. A rib with cancer may be removed to prevent the cancer from spreading to surrounding healthy tissues.
  3. Thoracic outlet syndrome – This is another therapeutical removal of a rib. Thoracic outlet syndrome is a group of disorders that occur when certain blood vessels or nerves are compressed. It affects the space between the collarbone and first rib (thoracic outlet). The excess pressure due to the compression may be reduced by rib removal

    Rib Removal Surgery

    Rib Removal Surgery

  4. Open Heart Surgery – Major surgery to the thoracic cavity, such as open heart surgery, may require removal of ribs to allow access to the organ being operated on.

Aesthetic Removal

Rib Removal Surgery

Rib Removal Surgery

Rib removal surgery may be performed to achieve a hourglass figure in women. During the Victorian era, i.e. 1830 to 1910, a teeny-tiny waist was definitive of feminine beauty and it was achieved through the use corsets. Rumor had it around the last century that some celebrities undergo the procedure to facilitate tighter lacing of the waist.

There are a range of other plastic surgeries for body modification from breast augmentation surgery, tummy tucks, buttock lifts and others.

Surgical Procedure for Rib Removal

The ribs that are removed depend on the purpose of the surgery. In fractures and cancers, the affected rib is removed. For aesthetic purposes, the most commonly removed ribs are the floating ribs, i.e. the 11th and 12th pairs.

The operation takes about two to three hours and is performed with the patient under general anesthesia. Two small incisions are made on either side of the lower back to access the ribs. There is a moderate amount of discomfort related to the rib removal procedure, with some patients experiencing lingering soreness for up to six weeks. However, most people are back to normal activities within two weeks.

Rib Removal Surgery Risks and Complications

As stated earlier, the essential function of the ribcage is to protect vital organs. When the ribs are removed, the vital organs are exposed and unprotected. Other general risks associated with any type of surgery such as anesthetic risk, bleeding, infection, wound healing problems and unfavorable scars are all still possible.

Rib Removal Surgery Cost

The total cost for rib removal surgery depends on a lot of factors such as the anesthetic fee, private hospital fee, private operating facility fee, extent of surgery required. The total cost of the procedure is around $6500 – $7500.