Rib removal is done for waistline reshaping. This could be for waistline narrowing (posterior ribs #10, 11 and 12) or for waistline lengthening or correction of subcostal protrusions. (ribs #7, 8, 9) Rib removal is done through small incisions on the back or at the bottom of the ribcage in front. (and occasionally through a tummy tuck approach)
The following are the typical postoperative instructions for rib removal surgery:
1. Rib removal surgery usually have a moderate amount of postoperative discomfort due to the separation of the muscles associated with the surgery. Some of this discomfort is managed by intercostal nerve blocks and muscle numbing injections even during surgery. (Exparel) This helps a lot during the first few days after surgery. In addition to taking your pain medication, using the wrap around binder can also be helpful through its circumferential support.
2. Get up and walk periodically even in the first few days after surgery. This will help you breathe deeper and ultimately feel better. Judge your activity level on how you are feeling. You will tire more easily than expected, even up to one month after surgery.
3. You may shower on the first or second day after surgery. Do not submerge your incisions in a bath tub or hot tub/jacuzzi until 2 weeks after surgery. By this time, your incisions will have healed adequately to prevent the risk of infection.
4. Tapes are will be placed across your incisions to completely cover them. This eliminates the need for any immediate incisional care. You may get them wet in the shower. They will not easily come off, even when allowed to get wet, because they are glued into place. They should be left in place and you can remove them 7 to 10 days week after surgery.
5. You are to continue wearing your wrap around binder for several weeks after surgery. Its use is very support and comfort. So you use it as long as it is making you feel better. The binder has no role in obtaining the final rib removal surgery result.
6. Numbness of the back or abdominal skin is to be expected and complete return of feeling may take up to several months after surgery. During this period, exposure to heat (e.g., heating pads) should be done with this consideration in mind to avoid potential skin burn injuries.
7. Avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for 3 to 4 weeks after surgery. Lighter forms of exercise (e.g., walking) can be done when you feel comfortable doing so.
8. All sutures used to close the incisions are under the skin and are dissolvable. Thus no suture removal is needed. Topical or laser scar therapies can be started at 3 weeks after surgery.
9. You may drive when you feel comfortable and can react normally and are off pain medication.