Model travels to Indiana to get rare rib removal

Posted at 10:24 PM, May 19, 2016

CARMEL, Ind. -- Pixee Fox’s hobby has become her career. She works as a plastic surgery model. The job description is exactly as it sounds.

Fox grew up in Sweden. She had become an electrician but wasn’t happy with the direction of her life or how she looked. So, she moved to the United States to start her transition.

“Where I come from in Sweden, no one is doing plastic surgery,” Fox said.

Fox felt more accepted in America where she says plastic surgery is welcomed and encouraged.

“Doesn't matter if I want to be a plastic model or I want to be an electrician, I can do whatever,” Fox explained.

Her plastic surgery diary is growing.

“I had one mini brow lift. I had two eyelid surgeries. I had three nose jobs. I had some fillers and I also have fillers in my lips and a bit of Botox. I’ve had four boob jobs. I had the rib surgery, six ribs removed, and I had a labiaplasty and a Brazilian butt lift with liposuction,” she said.

“And laser hair removal and permanent make-up,” Fox added.

That’s a lot of surgeries. It’s cost her thousands of dollars and a lot of time.

“I'm not able to live a normal life like other people can and go to work and call in sick,” she said, “I have to quit my work, basically, to be able to do some surgeries.”

Pixee getting measured for her rib removal surgery

One of her most dramatic surgeries brought her to Carmel, Indiana: Rib Removal. She wanted three from each side removed to decrease her waist-size.

‘”The hardest thing to find was somebody (who) actually took me seriously enough to do it for me, for cosmetic reasons,” Fox explained.

Her online research led her to Dr. Barry Eppley with Eppley Plastic Surgery in Carmel. She traveled here last year for the rib removal.

“Ribs wrap around. Some are attached to your sternum, others are not. They're called free-floating ribs. The bottom ribs, usually 9, 10, 11 and 12, are called free floaters,” Dr. Eppley explained.

He removed portions of ribs 10, 11 and 12. As you can imagine, there is some pain associated with the procedure.

Pixee post-surgery when six of her ribs were removed


“Everybody knows there's a lot of meat on ribs. For those of us who like to eat ribs, that's meat,” he said, “For me as a surgeon, that's muscle. There isn't any question, you have to remove some muscle to take them off the ribs when you do it.”

The surgery didn’t phase Fox. She was back in her corset two days later, measuring her waist at 16 inches.

“I have a vision and slowly, but surely, I'm getting there,” said Fox.

Fox says her goal is to look like a cartoon character. With each new surgery, she says she’s getting happier.

Pixee before the rib surgery, and after, one year apart

That’s exactly what Dr. Eppley says his business helps achieve.

“Plastic surgery is self-image surgery,” he said.

With that mindset and years of education and training, Dr. Eppley takes on surgeries many plastic surgeons deny. Rib removal is one of those surgeries. Skull sculpting is another.

“My suspicion is there's a really small number, certainly less than a handful of surgeons that do it, and maybe I might be the only one doing it,” he said.

That’s why his business has grown online. People from all across the globe find his website, consult with him through e-mail and then travel to Carmel to transform through surgery.

“The historical concept, ‘Well, you gotta go to Beverly Hills, you have to go to New York City. These are the only places where these things go on.’ Well the reality is that's really not true,” Eppley said.

Eppley says his patient list includes people who’ve traveled from places as far away as Australia and Bulgaria for surgeries.

Fox traveled from North Carolina after moving from Sweden.

While Fox couldn’t tell us exactly what she paid to have her ribs removed, Eppley’s office told RTV6 the approximate cost for a Rib Removal ranges from $11,900 to $18,500 with a disclaimer that the costs are an estimate only.

And Dr. Eppley continues to treat different kinds of patients every day. He recently said he did another rib removal surgery of 12 ribs, six more than what made Pixee's waist shrink.