Doc Claims Rib Cage and Pelvis Grew Larger Due to Previous Obesity. Is This Possible? (photo)

I saw a board cert plastic surgeon yesterday about a Tummy Tuck or Body Lift and left with quite a shock. He told me that my rib cage expanded and that my pelvis grew to better handle the weight when I was 100 pounds overweight. I'd never heard of that and have not found anything via google searches to support his claim. The other docs that I had consults with didn't mention this. I am 32 yr Male, lost 100 pounds, became 50 to 100 pounds overweight at age 21 and lost most over the past 2 yrs.

Doctor Answers 5

Can rib cage and pelvis expand/grow with Obesity?

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I agree with your doctor, I do a lot of post-weight loss contouring and I always try to educate the patient on reasonable outcomes. There is growth and expansion of the diameter of both the rib cage and pelvis that is not reversed after weight loss. This will affect your post-op outcome if you choose to have a surgery and your surgeon was correct to point this out. Remeber, just because you cannot find it on google does not mean it is false, and likewise being on google does not make it fact.

Baton Rouge Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

Rib cage size impacts your body lift or tummy tuck

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Studies have shown that the average female rib cage increases by two inches between the ages of 21 and 70. Rib cages get larger with pregnancy and often do not return to their prior shape.  Singers and swimmers are also known to have larger rib cages as they develop increased lung capacity.  I notice in my patients who have lost large amounts of weight that they often have a ribcage that flares out at the bottom even after their weight loss.  This has to be thought about in planning your body lift or tummy tuck.  I applaud the observant nature of the surgeon you consulted with.

Mary Lee Peters, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 117 reviews

Body lift question

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I think the doctor was correct that your internal fat prior to weight loss may have expanded your thoracic and pelvis regions, just as it stretched out your rectus fascia which is routinely tightened during a tummy tuck or body lift. It is not something the doctor will operate on. No reason to be shocked. The doctor was just trying to give you a complete explanation. Good luck with surgery and congratulations on your weight loss achievement.

Gregory T. Lynam, MD
Richmond Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Rib cage and pelvis got larger? Really???

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I'm going to weigh in (no pun intended) on the "I doubt it side." I've never heard or read about that. You look pretty normal in your photos. As plastic surgeons we are always looking out for patients with unrealistic expectations. Some of us head off the possibly over optimistic patient with observations about the patient's exam before surgery so that the patient remembers this post operatively when they may be especially critical of the result. Hope that makes sense. I have to wonder if that was part of what you "heard."

Clayton L. Moliver, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Tummy Tuck

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With weight gain, I do not believe there is more expansion or growth of the rib cage or the pelvis. You have stopped growing many years ago. May be what your doctor meant in simple words is that there is visceral fat. The pictures posted look that you are good candidate for a circumferential lift.

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.