My name is Mihail Veleski, and I will take you on a fantastic journey to help you improve your pectus excavatum deformity. I am passionate about encouraging and supporting people who suffer from this deformity. What upsets me the most is that people believe it can’t be improved without surgery.
That is a destructive lie that kills the self-esteem and happiness of many young people! My purpose is to lead you throughout this journey, make you enjoy the beauty of the ride, and reach the desired final destination of improving pectus excavatum, forever.
How It All Started
My pectus excavatum journey started when I typed, “why is there a hole in my chest” in the Google search bar.
I didn’t even know I was suffering from a deformity called “pectus excavatum.” All I knew as a 15-year-old freshman in high school was that my chest was indented, which made me self-conscious. To make matters worse, my brother made fun of me when he saw the phrase I looked up on Google after stumbling upon it in the browsing history of our shared PC.
I Entered Puberty
When I entered puberty, I had very poor posture, muscular imbalances, weak core musculature, kyphosis, and scoliosis, which worsened my deformity. I felt horrible, mainly because other people had regular body shapes. I hit my lowest point when my ribs poked out of my shirt. My deformity was visible, even when I had a shirt on!
I reached a point where I started to become jealous of people with regular body shapes. Not to mention how terrible and ashamed I felt when I saw how the famous guys in my school got all the attention from the hot girls I had a crush on.
They just oozed confidence, especially when they attended the frequent high-school pool parties in the summertime. I felt ashamed to take off my shirt, assuming everybody would judge my sunken chest deformity. This fear negatively affected my social life, making me a timid kid who had trouble talking to girls.
I reached the bottom when I started blushing whenever a pretty-looking girl talked to me. I couldn’t live my life like this anymore.
My Life's Turning Point
I started an intensive self-improvement journey, hoping to improve my life. I finally stopped playing video games and spent my time watching the YouTube videos of Elliott Hulse and Brandon Carter, who introduced me to weightlifting. I was amazed by their solid physiques and overall mindsets about life.
Their videos introduced me to Owen Cook, Julien Blanc, and Max Tornow, who all had YouTube channels. They were a part of Real Social Dynamics. They inspired me to become confident in my skin, despite my insecurities. Their teachings made me believe I could still attract the girls I always wanted in my school. These guys were known for reading many books to help you become the strongest version of yourself.
Two of their favorite books were Robert Greene’s 50th Law and Tony Robbins’s Awaken the Giant Within. These men and these books changed my life forever.
First THOUGHTS ABOUT Pectus
I believed pectus excavatum was very uncommon. I didn’t know anyone else who suffered from it. If you suffer from pectus excavatum, I know exactly how you feel. I always felt embarrassed about it.
At that time, the only thing that came to my mind was to go to the doctor. I felt overly stressed out. I read online that pectus excavatum couldn’t be repaired without surgery. My heart was racing. I had a feeling of sickness with an urge to vomit. I felt a sharp pain in my chest as soon as I read that. I didn’t want to undergo surgery.
At the time, I didn’t even know that the pectus excavatum surgery (Nuss procedure) requires one or more metal bars to be inserted behind the breastbone to push it into a normal position. The Nuss bars must sit there for about three years before they are removed with another surgery. Imagine how I would feel knowing this.
I became too nervous and concerned about my health. After thinking about it for a month, I overcame that fear and went to the doctor.
Scary Doctor's Appointment
The doctor made me even more afraid than before.
He said that surgery was the only way I could correct the deformity. I was shocked. The information I had read on the internet was spoken directly from my doctor’s mouth. I then knew for a fact that it was true. I still feel sick when I think about this devastating moment.
He said that for health companies to cover the costs of my Nuss procedure, my Haller Index needed to be higher than 3.25. At the time, the only experienced surgeon in North Macedonia we knew was Dr. Zan Mitrev from Filip Vtori Hospital in Skopje. He was a well-respected surgeon. However, the surgery costs were high for me at the time.
I was a freshman in high school, living in a medium-income household. At the time, we couldn’t afford that amount of money for surgery. Before saying the third sentence, I hoped the doctor would say something more encouraging.
He said that if the Nuss procedure was successful, two steel bars would be inserted into my chest. In my case, the bars would need to stay underneath my sternum for at least three years! I didn’t know that the Nuss procedure was this serious at the time. I thought that fixing the deformity with surgery would be quick. I was utterly wrong.
My love for basketball
The doctor told me I should limit my physical activities during these three years. He told me that I couldn’t participate in contact sports. There would be an increased chance of bar dislocation.
That could lead to heart or lung puncture, causing extreme pain, blood loss, and permanent vital organ damage. First, I couldn’t take basketball away from my life for three years. It was something that gave my life meaning. I made a lot of friends on the basketball playgrounds. The sport helped me become a better version of myself. The thought of organ rupture didn’t even come to my mind.
The fact that I would stop playing basketball disturbed me more than the possibility of suffering a life-threatening injury. Nothing could take my love of basketball away. I wouldn’t let a dent in my chest take away my purpose in life.
After expressing my initial thoughts about the surgery and my love for basketball to the doctor, he felt sorry for me. He shrugged his shoulders and told me there was another alternative way I could try to fix my deformity.
The sentence that changed my life
The surgeon then told me that my pectus excavatum and flared ribs might improve through physical therapy, vacuum bell therapy, and bracing. However, he wasn’t a huge believer in the effectiveness of this alternative method. He said that this route required a lot of patience and discipline, and still, the results weren’t guaranteed.
Right after saying that, there was a long and awkward silence. It was long enough for me to question my entire existence. After a not-so-pleasant trip to the doctor, I was mentally destroyed. However, there was a spark at the back of my mind about the non-surgical treatment for my deformity. It looked promising enough to me.
Web browsing gave my life meaning
As soon as I came home, I turned on my computer and typed “how to fix pectus excavatum without a surgery” in the Google search bar. I was so hungry for a solution that I typed this in less than a second.
A few inspiring blog posts showed up. The articles weren’t anything special. They were just a few hundred words long, written on free publishing platforms. However, I was so hungry for a non-surgical solution for my deformity. Stumbling upon these articles felt like finding hidden treasure.
I clicked on every single result on Google that was relevant to fixing pectus excavatum without surgery. I re-read these articles a few times. I concluded that vacuum bell therapy, braces, stretches, and deep breathing exercises can improve the sunken chest condition.
I even stumbled upon a German forum with many members discussing the effectiveness of the Eckart Klobe vacuum bell therapy method. I used Google Translate for every sentence to understand their methodologies. I was amazed by the before and after pictures shared by members of the forum. I could see how their chest wall appearance improved without an ugly red scar across their chests caused by surgery.
They repaired their deformities, mainly with the help of the vacuum bell device and physical therapy. After surfing the internet for 5 hours straight, I turned off my computer, believing I could fix my deformity.
Nowadays, I am proud to say that I significantly improved my pectus excavatum and rib flare deformity non-surgically. I performed everything that the authors of these articles and the members of the forums told me to do. On top of that, I found plenty of scientific evidence proving the effectiveness of non-surgical methods for pectus excavatum.
Throughout the process, I felt how stretching, bodybuilding, and breathing exercises made me feel like my sternum was pulled out of the dent. That helped me build my overall upper body musculature. I also followed the workout routines of NBA stars like LeBron James, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, and John Wall. The workout plans they developed helped me fall in love with training. I was motivated by their stories about how they beat the odds.
I embraced them as my idols and was amazed by their incredible work ethic, discipline, and fearlessness. After searching and studying everything related to pectus excavatum, I printed out the stories of people who corrected their indented chests non-surgically. To remain motivated, I re-read their stories repeatedly, every time before I went to bed.
I practice what I preach
When I was a child, I played soccer every day after school and had a lot of fun. That was something that kept me in shape. I am saying this to tell you that I am a lifelong exerciser. Pectus excavatum can happen to anybody, no matter how physically active you were as a kid.
I started playing basketball in my teenage years. All I wanted then was to increase my vertical jump. I was mostly doing plyometrics, sprints, and leg exercises. I wasn’t doing any upper body exercises to build muscle and strength in the chest area.
However, I always felt that pectus excavatum limited my physical capabilities in these sports. My physical shape was always one step behind my competition, no matter how hard I practiced. I figured out that playing these sports and doing lower body workouts isn’t enough to fix my caved-in chest.
However, playing sports from a young age was a good lead-in for the exercises that helped me correct my concave chest. I fell in love with bodybuilding, yoga, and Pilates.
NBA stars like Lebron James, Kevin Love, and Dwyane Wade were huge fans of these exercises. Before doing my exercises for pectus excavatum, I always watched their workout videos. That gave me additional motivation to execute my workouts. That’s what pushed me the most.
I strongly advocate making intelligent lifestyle choices as the primary means of achieving good health. Most importantly, don’t be discouraged by people who claim that pectus excavatum is not treatable without surgery.