In this beauty-obsessed world, what lengths won’t we go to in order to achieve the heights of perceived feminine appeal?
We dye our hair, lacquer our faces, wax our unmentionables, and that’s just the superficial stuff.
Some of us go a lot further to obtain our beauty ideal, undergoing cosmetic surgical procedures to achieve desired results.
In recent years, it has become a lot more acceptable to get breast implants, use fat from one part of your body to plump another, tweak a crooked nose, or get a bit of a lift, nip, and tuck for a more youthful façade.
When you think about it, it’s really not that much different from getting braces to straighten your teeth.
There are more extreme cases, of course, and the procedure most talked about in corsetry circles is rib resection, or removal of a portion of the floating ribs at the bottom of the ribcage to increase the effectiveness of corsetry in winnowing the waistline.
Is this procedure just a myth? Was it really common in the Victorian era and is it frequently employed today?
Here are a few things you should know about cosmetic rib removal.
What is Rib Resection?
Rib resection, not to be confused with rib removal, is a reduction of the rib whereby a portion is removed. Potato, potato, you might say, but it is a rather important surgical distinction.
There are several medical reasons why patients might undergo rib resection, such as deformity, trauma, or cancer.
One of the most common reasons for rib resection is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), which causes blood clots in the neck and shoulder.
In some cases, sections of rib bone are used in reconstructive surgeries, such as in cases of broken facial bones or cancers, like those affecting the jaw.
Ribs may also be broken or removed for internal surgeries (heart, lungs, etc.), although they are generally returned to their rightful place after the fact.
In terms of cosmetic surgery, rib resection is not terribly common, or at least not commonly talked about, but neither is it entirely unheard of.
Rib Removal in the Victorian Era
It is a common myth that women of the Victorian era commonly had floating ribs removed for the purpose of lacing their corsets tighter and displaying smaller waistlines.
Not only is this theory unproven, but it’s important to understand the level of medicine available from the mid-1800s to the turn of the century.
It was not anywhere near what we enjoy today.
Anesthesia was either chloroform or ether, neither of which was well-controlled, meaning the risk of 1) waking up during surgery, or 2) dying from an overdose of anesthesia were equally high.
Blood loss was also an issue as transfusions were hit or miss.
One type of blood is as good as the next, right? Yeah, that’s what doctors thought until different blood types were discovered in 1900. P.S. Penicillin wasn’t discovered until 1928, so infections were also a very real threat.
In short, cosmetic surgeries weren’t really a thing.
Rib Resection Today
These days, surgical procedures are obviously much safer and cosmetic procedures are definitely more common.
That said, many people still balk at the notion of going under the knife for beauty.
In truth, it’s not easy to find corset aficionados that have undergone rib resection for the purposes of narrowing the waistline.
There are two well-known cases.
One is model Pixee Fox (the Living Cartoon), who has reportedly undergone an estimated 150 cosmetic surgery procedures, including resection of six ribs to date.
The other is “Ken doll” Rodrigo Alves, who has had over 60 cosmetic procedures, including four ribs resected (doctors would not agree to the six he wanted removed).
There are likely more cases, but because of a certain stigma associated with cosmetic surgery, others simply may not broadcast the information.
Is it Good, Bad, or What?
Let’s just start by saying that each of us is in charge of our own body and free to make decisions about how it looks.
While some people would not consider any type of cosmetic surgery, others are open to the idea and even enthusiastic about the possibilities for enhancement of their natural form.
It’s not for us to judge what anyone does to feel beautiful.
Rib resection is not a common procedure, but it is not unheard of, and it can be done safely under the supervision of medical professionals.
True, it does make one stand out, but that’s exactly the outcome a person might expect, and even seek, when undergoing cosmetic procedures.
Corsets are designed for shaping and support, and they are used to enhance and outright alter the shape of your body.
Over time, they will cause the ribs to shift, altering their natural position in the body. Is that really so different from having a floating rib shortened or removed?
When it comes to rib resection, it’s a matter of personal choice, and every individual has the right to decide which beauty standards are right for them.
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