Rib Grafting

What Is Rib Grafting?

Rib grafting is a type of free graft that is used in order to reconstruct structurally compromised regions of the head, face, and neck. It involves removing a portion of the actual rib from the chest wall and using that cartilage in reconstructive procedures.



Why Is Rib Grafting Performed?Potential Rib Grafting Donor Sites

Rib grafts are usually used as a donor for regions of the head, neck, or face that have been weakened by surgery, trauma, cancer, or congenital defects. The rib used can provide a structural framework from which to rebuild and reconstruct an area, setting a foundation.


What Are Some Common Uses Of Rib Grafts?

Rib grafts are commonly used when there are no other options for cartilage donation available. For example during rhinoplasty procedures, particularly if the patient has had previous operations, patients may have had cartilage harvested from other areas (ear, nasal septum). During these circumstances, depending on the particular need of the patients, rib grafting may be appropriate.

Other circumstances may require the use of a large amount of cartilage not available elsewhere in the body. This may be necessary when building an absent ear (microtia) or nose. The chest wall provides ample amounts of cartilage for these extensive reconstructions.


Preparation For A Rib Graft

You will meet with Dr. Mourad where he usually spends an hour going over everything related to your rib graft and head and neck reconstruction. He will evaluate and make sure that he can specifically tailor a custom care plan to your exact needs. During the consultation, Dr. Mourad will determine the exact nature of your complaints and the exact causes. He may prescribe medications that will assist in your complaints. Once a tailored plan is made, Dr. Mourad and his staff will take you through all the necessary information needed to make sure that your surgery happens without issue. We take care of the details so that you can have the most enjoyable experience.

Dr. Mourad views treating his patients to be nothing short of a privilege and an honor and enjoys taking the time to get to know his patients and fully understand their issues. Dr. Mourad’s office provides a boutique experience that takes you out of the mindset of being at the doctor’s office. It is a warm, comfortable environment, providing a bespoke experience.


How Is Rib Grafting Performed?

Rib grafts can be obtained from the left or right side of the chest wall, but most commonly from the right side. A small incision (1-4cm) is made in a chest wall crease below the level of the nipple. Through this incision, the cartilage can be delivered and used for head and neck reconstruction.


After Surgery and Recovery

Depending on your work, Dr. Mourad typically recommends taking a minimum of 3 days off before returning to work. He also discourages his patients from any heavy lifting as this can alter the structure of the nose through straining. If you wear glasses, you may require some alterations as to not provide pressure on the nasal bones if applicable. Dr. Mourad will provide you with pain medications, ointments, nasal sprays, all to help maximize your results.

You will see Dr. Mourad one week after surgery where he will remove all casting materials and splints.  Depending on the patient this swelling typically lasts for 2-3 weeks but can last up to two months in rare circumstances. To help reduce the swelling Dr. Mourad will re-apply tape to areas that will be there until your second post-operative visit. This pressure dressing reduces the amount of swelling. The second postoperative visit will involve removing all the tape. Dr. Mourad will then see you in visitations two weeks later, and then one month after that. Dr. Mourad enjoys the continued visitation of his patients and will see them in follow up for many years thereafter.


Major Risks Of Rib Grafting

Dr Moustafa Mourad AAFPRS Sympopsium Cover

The biggest concern is removing a portion of the rib and exposing the lungs, resulting in what is referred to medically as a pneumothorax. Fortunately, this is an exceedingly rare complication, that if encountered may require an unexpected hospitalization and further surgeries until it resolves.


Do Breast Implants Impact Rib Grafting?

Yes. Breast implants may at risk of exposure, infection, or rupture during the removal of rib during rib grafting. The surgeon must anticipate many factors related to the implant in order to safely harvest the graft. Fortunately, Dr. Mourad is an expert in this field presenting his studies at a national conference.


Should You See Dr. Mourad If You Need A Rib Graft?

Yes. Dr. Mourad has extensive experience in performing rib grafts. He is a leading expert in the field of rib grafting and has recently presented at the 12th International Symposium of Facial Plastic Surgery with regards to this topic. With Dr. Mourad’s expertise and experience, you can trust that you are in capable hands.

Meet Dr. Moustafa Mourad, MD, FACS

Moustafa Mourad, MD, FACS is board-certified in head and neck surgery and highly-trained in cosmetic plastic surgery and facial reconstruction. Dr. Mourad is also a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He treats many conditions, both cosmetic and complex, that affect the head, neck and entire facial area. Learn More »

Select Relevant Publications

Moubayed S, Mourad MW, Lee T, and Ducic Y. An Overview of Regional Tissue Transfer for Head and Neck Reconstruction. Head and Neck Cancer. 2016 Feb. Link to Article.

Mourad M, Vincent A, and Ducic Y. Safe Autologous Rib Harvest in Patients with Breast Implants. Presented at: 12th International Symposium of Facial Plastic Surgery. 2018 October 18; Dallas, TX, USA. Link to Article.

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