Q1: I have a very large rib cage (44"), and at the same time I am transitioning from male to female. My large rib cage is a constant problem for me because it keeps me from wearing nice clothes.  Also, it is not very attractive for a women to have such a large chest area. My shoulders, however, are not very large, and this causes my arms to stand out like a "weeble wabble."  Anyway, I want to reduce my rib cage size very much. I would like to be around 36 to 38".  Is this possible to achieve by wearing a corset?  I am 32 years old.  I also have a problem with my breast development:  Because of my large rib cage, my breasts seem to appear more spread apart. I have not gotten implants yet, but am planning to in the future.  Would a reduced rib cage help the appearance of my breast as well? --- Jerri (9/10/02)

A1: Yes, corset training would certainly help your situation. Especially as you appear to have committed to feminization, some degree of permanency would be desirable in your case. The ribcage at age 32 is relatively flexible and, with a properly constructed corset, gradual reshaping can definitely be achieved. The corset should be a heavy construction with steel boning, rather than spirals, in order to provide sufficient distribution of the pressure that comes with training of the ribcage. It is important to do this gradually, as discomfort will otherwise result from bending the ribs too quickly.  A relatively straight front is important as well to avoid dipping into the stomach area, which is likely to occur with the added tightness that will be required for ribcage training.


Q2: I'm 27 years old, and wonder if the lower ribcage is not going to become more prominent with time, relative to the hip bone, considering that I'm planning to give birth two times in the following years. I'm afraid that none of my actual waist will be remnant. I should also say that the lower ribcage is pretty close to the hip bone.  I have scoliosis AND cifosis, with some rotation on a few of my spinal vertebrae. This was gained during high school (8 years ago). I wonder if this is not correlated with the lower ribcage expansion. If yes, is the effect reversible to a certain extent?

I consider my lower ribcage to be too large in terms of circumference, drastically minimizing my (otherwise a - guessed - anatomically thin) waist. I am a thin person, I do not have excess fat or anything. I just think that my lower ribcage does make my body look more masculine because my lower ribcage is so prominent.  I'd like to create a lower ribcage corset that will provide permanent effects in the long term, and improve my waist look (when worn during sleep time - 7 hrs/day).  --- Gabi (1/30/08)

A2: A combination of some degree of scoliosis (lateral spinal curvature) and kyphosis (thoracic) or lordosis (lumbar) "cifosis" is not uncommon and can create the issues you describe. What is not always recognized is that the external shape and overall appearance of our bodies is very much a function of our muscles and their tone. It is less a function of the underlying bone structure, meaning muscle tone can mask changes of underlying ribcage changes. For example, someone with a 45 degree scoliosis will appear not appear unusual especially when clothed. Only when inspecting the spine will the issue be obvious, of course slight asymmetry is seen as well.

Corseting at first affects the muscle tone by assuming some of their function. This allows the body to be shaped, or it's posture corrected. The permanent effects are a combination of changes in how we control our muscles (mostly subconsciously), which in turn determines how we sit and stand, e.g. not slouching.

A corset can help as you correctly suggest, and it does two things: it will share the function of the muscles, and second, it will provide a shaping function.

Corseting, esp. long term corseting, will change the position of the ribs and spine. It unloads the spine, and it changes the rib curvature and rib joints. By applying continued pressure (also see my articles on corseting the human body), these joints will change, allowing the ribs to flex more easily, while the ribs themselves change curvature over time as well. While the corset is on, it will impose a shape.

Here also, upon removal of the corset, everything may appear to go back, because the muscles assume their former role, but the underlying ribs will have changed. This change is more permanent as more hours are spent in the corset.

If, after years of corseting, the corset is left off, the overall appearance may appear to go back quickly, but the underlying changes will take much longer to return to their pre-corseting position and shape, as the muscles will mask much of the underlying changes.

In your case, a traditional boned and laced corset is certainly an option. I would discourage anything without proper structure as it'll wrinkle and be uncomfortable.

The corset structure (boning and pattern) is important as it needs to be strong enough to offload the muscles while providing shaping at the same time.

In the case of scoliosis, in a mature adult it is important to provide proper support, meaning a corset with sufficient boning is important. I would suggest to discuss your needs with one of the custom makers and provide measurements and pictures. However, discuss the issues first, so that you are certain they understand the importance of an exact fit.

In such a corset, following the existing guidelines of going slow and spending as much time in it as possible will provide benefit.

For daily wear spiral boning offers more freedom of motion and a combination of solids and spirals should be considered if you plan to maximize the time you spent corseted.

Note that extreme tightness is not advised, nor necessary to get good results.


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