The removal of ribs to create a slimmer figure with a more defined waist is the latest extreme procedure being demanded by women seeking the perfect hourglass figure. Following rumours in the 1970s that Cher had two ribs removed to create a smaller waist, the procedure gained popularity in the USA but surgeons are now reluctant to perform such procedures due to the risks and complications.
The surgery removes the 12th, 11th and, on rare occasions, the 10th rib to create a slimmer waist. The procedure is performed under general anaesthetic with an incision made in the back. Recovery time can be up to six months and patients are left with a long scar.
Although the 12th rib is known as a “floating” rib as it does not extend to the back, the 11th and 10th ribs protect internal organs from the front and back so the removal of these risks damage to the kidneys, gall bladder and even the stomach.
The procedure is now rarely performed by certified plastic surgeons other than in cases such as bone cancer and developmental growth problems where a section of rib is removed to obtain bone for a bone graft. Many have argued that the waist to hip ratio is determined by the distribution of fat rather than the size of the rib cage and that exercises such as walking and running are a much safer alternative to rib removal to reduce the waist size.
Emily Palmer, clinical negligence associate at Penningtons Manches, commented: “Not only is it sad to see the lengths to which women will go to achieve what they consider to be the perfect figure but there has also been a sharp increase in the number of these procedures performed in countries where safety requirements are less stringent.
“The removal of ribs is a permanent procedure. Ribs do not grow back and cannot be replaced. Even under the care of a certified and experienced surgeon, it is a dangerous procedure and the risks of complications are high. Going abroad for the surgery will further increase the risk and complication rate. The healthy, non-surgical alternatives of exercise and diet to achieve a slimmer waist should be actively promoted to anyone considering such an extreme procedure.”