Rib removal is surgery to remove one or more ribs. Rib resection is the removal of part of a rib. The procedures are done for various medical reasons. An urban myth holds that some celebrities have chosen to have ribs removed as a form of body modification.
Rib removal may be medically approved in several situations. 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. A cancerous rib may be removed to stop the cancer spreading. Rib bone material may be used for a bone graft. The excess pressure of thoracic outlet syndrome may be reduced by rib removal. 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.
Victorian fashion valued a wasp waist and hourglass figure for women. This was achieved through laced corsets. Twentieth-century rumors hold that some women had their lower ribs removed to facilitate tighter lacing of the waist. In 1931, corset-maker Rosa Binner alleged that French actress Polaire had had her lowest rib removed in the 1890s. Germaine Greer's second-wave feminist book The Female Eunuch gives the practice as an example of male-directed distortion of the female body. Valerie Steele's history of the corset finds no evidence of such a procedure, and with Lynne Kutsche argues the mortal danger of surgery of the era makes it extremely implausible.
Barbara Mikkelson of Snopes.com suggests that Florenz Ziegfeld might have started such a rumor about his his protegée Anna Held to publicize her career. Similar stories have been spread about later celebrities. Cher hired a physician in 1990 to confirm that she has a full set of ribs. A similar rumor holds that Marilyn Manson had ribs removed to facilitate autofellatio.
Interviewed for a Vogue article in 2000, John E. Sherman of Weill Cornell Medical College said that while such a procedure was theoretically possible, there was no record of it in the medical literature.
- "Rib Resection". Medical Disability Guidelines. Reed Group. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Ducas, Dorothy (18 January 1931). "Confessions of the Queen of Corsets". Palm Beach Post (Palm Beach). Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Greer, Germaine (2009-10-06). The Female Eunuch. HarperCollins. p. 34. ISBN 9780061972805. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Steele, Valerie (2001). The Corset: A Cultural History. Yale University Press. pp. 73–74. ISBN 9780300099539.
- Mikkelson, Barbara (8 July 2006). "Rib Removal". snopes.com. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Godfrey-June, Jean (August 2000). "Waist Land". Vogue. Retrieved 16 April 2013.