can you feel the metalwork in your back after scoliosis surgery

Costoplasty Questions (also called thoracoplasty)

What is a costoplasty or thoracoplasty?

I’ve been asked a few times about the costoplasty procedure I had at the time of my scoliosis surgery, so I thought I would try and answer a few common queries about costoplasties below.

When the spine curves it can also twist, this causes rotation of the rib cage which results in a “rib hump,” this mainly occurs with thoracic curves that affect the ribs. In my case I had a large thoracic curve and a very prominent “rib hump” on my right side, caused by the rotation of the spine. Some scoliosis curves can be large with very little rotation and some can be small with lots of rotation, every case is different.

A costoplasty, also called thoracoplasty, is a separate procedure to the spinal fusion, which can reduce the appearance of the “rib hump” that is most often associated with thoracic curves. 

A costoplasty will usually involve the removal of sections of several ribs that protrude – in my case my surgeon removed four sections of rib – ouch!!
The idea is that when the ribs grow back, they will grow back straight, providing you with a flatter back. This procedure can be carried out during the same time as the scoliosis surgery, or sometimes as a separate procedure after the spine has fused. 
Note that you can’t have a costoplasty without first having the spinal fusion to stabalise the spine.


Does everyone undergoing scoliosis surgery require a costoplasty?

No. Not everyone with scoliosis will require a costoplasty, it’s generally considered a “cosmetic” procedure. In many cases, especially with the modern instrumentation used nowadays, the surgeon can achieve a fantastic cosmetic outcome without the need for this additional procedure. Also, depending on where the curve is in the spine, the ribs may not be affected and therefore this procedure would not be required. It’s mainly required more for larger, stiffer thoracic curves (like mine). If you have a large rib hump as a result of your scoliosis and are considering spinal fusion, it would be worth discussing the options with your surgeon.


Are you pleased with the results?

Yes. Personally, I had a lot of rotation, my rib hump was very large and I hated it. It made me self-conscious and it was painful and uncomfortable to sit against chairs, this is why I decided to ask my surgeon about the costoplasty.

On reflection I am pleased I had this procedure and I would have it again tomorrow if I had to as the results were so fantastic. My rib hump has disappeared and I still can’t get over how flat my back looks even now. I don’t have many pictures of my rib hump side before surgery as I generally tried not to get that side photographed, however the below pictures shows how my rib hump looked before and after surgery:

Rib hump before costoplasty
Rib hump before costoplasty
Rib hump after costoplasty
Rib hump side after costoplasty
Costoplasty Picture - Before and After
Costoplasty – Before and After

Is having a costoplasty painful?

Yes it WAS painful, but that’s not much of a surprise really bearing in mind I had 4 broken ribs!  It hurt to breathe, sneeze, laugh, move!!

I would say the costoplasty pain was worse than the pain from my spine and lasted about 6 months. But for me the pain was all worth it and was controlled well with painkillers 🙂

It’s also worth noting that having a costoplasty adds time onto your recovery period – I had to wear a brace for 3 months to protect the healing ribs – whereas many patients are not required to wear a brace following scoliosis surgery. 

Are there additional risks to having a costoplasty?

Yes, as with any surgical procedure there are risks and complications that can occur with a costoplasty and you should always discuss all the options and risks with your surgeon before making a decision. For example, it lengthens the duration of the surgery and the time that you are under anesthetic.

Hope this helps please feel free to ask any further questions you may have about this procedure and I’ll do my best to help 🙂

Louise x

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What is a costoplasty

Haircuts post scoliosis surgery: A pain in the neck (literally!)

So I had my hair done this weekend and it reminded me that having my hair cut is one thing that I absoltuely hate doing post scoliosis surgery, that and shaving my legs. I try to put it off for as long as possible but some things are just unavoidable.

The problem is that going to the hairdressers is now a completely different experience from pre-surgery, and not an enjoyable one at that. This is mainly because I can’t bend my back to slouch into the hairdresser’s chair so I end up perching on the end of the chair sitting straight up or leaning back with my shoulder’s touching the top of the chair and a huge gap between my lower back and the back of the chair! It’s safe to say that sitting this way for a fair few hours is no fun.
The worst part is leaning back to have my hair washed, it’s sooo uncomfortable as I can’t mould my back to the chair and end up again with the huge gap between my lower back and the back of the chair. I used to enjoy having my hair washed at the hairdressers but now I just want them to hurry up and get on with it so I can get out of that horrible seat.

It’s probably my own fault for having foils that take hours but hey beauty is pain and I may have a sore back after visiting the hairdressers post surgery but at least my hair looks good! 😉

Next time I’ll take a cushion…

Another Amazing Scoliosis Surgery Story

I came across another amazing scoliosis surgery story on Twitter over the weekend about a girl with pre surgery scoliosis of 180 degrees, click here to have a read.

Truly inspirational!

Happy New Year!

So it’s an end of another year and a chance to reflect on the past 12 months.
This time last year I was still signed off work following my scoliosis surgery, on alot of painkillers and wondering if my life would ever be normal again. Last New Years Eve I stayed in because I couldn’t face the large crowds, the pain, the possibility of there being nowhere to sit and not being able to have a drink on my painkillers.
This New Year was very different. I went out with friends and partied until 3am!
Over the past 12 months I’ve come a long way and started getting back into my old life… slowly but surely.
Here’s a list of some of the things I’ve achieved in 2011:
  • Started back at work – part time for the first few months
  • Enjoyed (many!) drunken nights out with friends (in my heels!)
  • Danced again for the first time since surgery
  • Went to concerts and the theatre
  • Holidayed to Cyprus
  • Finished a Diploma in Digital Marketing
  • Started back at the gym 3 times a week
  • Progressed well with physio – I can tell my back feels stronger as now I’m able to lift myself up from lying down much easier.
  • Visited London a couple of times, sounds easy enough but involved long train journeys with no seats, lots of walking and the busy underground so was proud of myself!!
  • Had my one year post op appointment and had all restrictions lifted
  • Got a new full time job in online marketing.
  • Took a trip to Berlin (which involved ALOT of walking and the U Bahn!)
So, yes it’s been tough at times, but I’ve done far more than I ever imagined would be possible this time last year, and I hope to continue this in 2012.
This year I want to get fitter and stronger, learn more, travel more and keep pushing myself to achieve. I believe anything is possible.
“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” ~ John Wooden
Happy New Year!
Louise xx