Corrective pectus excavatum braces are a proven way to improve deformity without surgery.
Research has shown that if the patient's chest wall is more flexible, the remodeling process will be faster and more effective than in stiffer chests. Usually, younger people have more flexible chest walls.
The whole non-surgical treatment of pectus excavatum with braces is based upon the principles of Nicolas Andry. He is known as the "father of orthopedics."
In 1741, he published a book in which he concluded that limb deformities are treatable through conventional treatment approaches.
JULIUS WOLFF LAW OF BONE REMODELING
Julius Wolff explained this type of treatment and later concluded that bone and cartilage are flexible substances that external forces can remodel. This is accepted as a law in orthopedics, known as the law of bone remodeling.
He famously said:
"The bone tissue is a dynamic construction that can be modified according to exterior pressure."Julius Wolff
Wolff's law also applies to the bones and cartilage of the anterior chest wall. The flexibility in the chest area allows external forces created through bracing to improve the pectus excavatum deformity by decreasing rib flare.
Applying therapeutic compression repeatedly on deformed bone and cartilage promotes gradual remodeling. You can notice this on the anterior chest wall, a highly flexible body part.
When you wear the right pectus excavatum brace, the external compression modifies the skeletal tissue pressure history. This promotes correct patterns of growth and ossification.
These orthopedic principles are proven to fix pectus excavatum in patients with flexible defects.
SYDNEY ABRÃO HAJE DYNAMIC REMODELING METHOD
Pediatric Orthopedist and Physiatrist Sydney Abrão Haje and Doctor in Orthopedics Davi de Podestá Haje did a 32-year-long study that showed the effectiveness of correcting pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum non-surgically.
They used the famed Dynamic Remodeling method to treat their patients. It combines wearing braces for pectus excavatum and performing corrective chest exercises daily.
The study concluded that this therapy method could correct congenital pectus excavatum. It showed a direct link between pectus deformities and orthopedics (using corrective braces).
"The Dynamic Remodeling method is non-surgical! It is a consistent long-term procedure using orthoses (braces) and exercises. It brings good or exceptional outcomes in one, two, or more years, depending on how well the sufferer follows proper directions."Sydney Abrão Haje
Below, I reviewed the top 3 braces that can improve pectus excavatum in 2023.
The braces provide an optimal level of external pressure that will modify the chest wall structure in the long run. I wrote detailed articles reviewing the braces. You can check them out below.
1. Orthopectus Brace
2. LaceIT Brace
5 FEATURES TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING A SUNKEN CHEST BRACE
Buying a brace for pectus excavatum can be highly complex, especially if you decide to purchase one only relying on yourself. Local orthopedic stores usually sell low-quality compression braces that don't provide the required external pressure to change the anterior chest wall.
You can't go wrong if you purchase the top 3 pectus excavatum braces I mentioned above. However, if you don't like those braces for a specific reason, feel free to be guided by the five features that make an excellent brace for pectus excavatum.
If the brace you're looking for satisfies these features, you're on the right path to buying a funnel chest brace.
ADEQUATE EXTERNAL PRESSURE
This is the most important thing you need to look at in a pectus excavatum brace. In the scientific studies by Pediatric Orthopedist and Physiatrist Sydney Abrão Haje, dynamic remodeling of the chest wall requires adequate external pressure on the bones and cartilage.
Try the brace on to see whether the external pressure it provides is enough to modify your chest wall. The brace will be useless if this rule isn't satisfied. However, this is very hard to judge by yourself.
I created the comparison table by using the orthoses for a prolonged period. I never review products that I haven't used personally.
For the chest brace to modify the appearance of the anterior chest wall, you'll need to wear it throughout most of the day. If the brace irritates your skin, feels tight, or causes pain, you can't wear it for a prolonged period.
You'll neurologically associate physical pain with wearing the brace. If this happens, creating the habit of wearing the brace constantly will get very hard.
That is why coziness and plush materials are the second most important thing to look at before purchasing a pectus excavatum brace. You can judge how comfortable the brace is based on its looks and materials.
However, suppose you want to ensure the materials satisfy your comfort needs. In that case, you must personally try the brace on.
Wearing an unbreathable brace throughout the spring or summer can be pretty uncomfortable. You'll sweat excessively, leading to skin irritation and sometimes allergies.
Always choose a brace that has breathable materials. Daily, wearing a brace for pectus excavatum can be made possible only if you don't sweat uncontrollably in it.
WASHABLE BY HAND
The pectus excavatum brace you want to buy must be washable by hand. You must clean it every seven days or more frequently if the materials aren't breathable and collect excess sweat.
It must be hand-washable because it is a faster cleaning process that can be done at any time of the day. Also, you can clean it in more detail without damaging the fabric of the brace.
Braces collect many bacteria that can irritate your skin and cause infections. Every single pectus excavatum brace I reviewed above can be washed by hand.
Every single person's body structure is different. It is challenging to create a brace that will fit everyone. On top of that, the severity of pectus excavatum differs from patient to patient.
Some patients have an awful posture that worsens the sunken chest as the days go by. If that's the case, you'll need a sturdier brace that isn't very flexible.
Purchasing an adjustable brace is excellent for convenience. Suppose you want to correct your condition faster. In that case, the brace must apply more external pressure on the malformed protruding rib cage.
Every single brace I reviewed above has adjustable straps.
COMBINE NON-SURGICAL TREATMENTS FOR CORRECTION
Many doctors and scientists recommend a non-surgical correction for pectus excavatum if the deformity isn't severe.
Performing physical therapy exercises, Eckart Klobe vacuum bell therapy, and wearing a brace for pectus excavatum daily is a very effective way to correct the condition for both men and women.
As you saw above, scientific medical literature supports this conservative technique and its effectiveness.
CAN BRACING CORRECT ANY PECTUS EXCAVATUM SEVERITY?
Yes, it can.
The flexibility of the anterior chest wall is more important than the severity of the deformity. The external pressure created by the pectus excavatum braces can remodel the malformed bone structure in your chest.
If the deformity is severe, it will take more time to be corrected than a mild condition. That's the only difference between the severity levels of the pectus excavatum condition.
However, remember that bracing alone can't pull the sunken sternum out. Its purpose is to correct the rib flaring. What pulls the breastbone out is the vacuum bell therapy.
Combining both bracing and vacuum bell treatment yields impressive results.
SIMPLE TEST TO MEASURE CHEST FLEXIBILITY
You can do a manual compression test to check whether your chest wall is still flexible. Press the protruding ribs or the sternum with the palm of your hand.
Hold the thoracic spine with your other hand. If you notice that the rib flare decreases or the sternum compresses, that means your chest is still flexible.
However, you need to apply a notable amount of force for this test to work. It has been scientifically proven that no matter how severe your rib flare and pectus excavatum condition is, you can correct it non-surgically. The only thing that matters is that the deformed structure of your chest is still flexible so that you can fix it with the brace.
You can check that in the Sydney Abrão Haje study.
The more flexible your chest is (the younger you are), the faster it can be corrected using corrective braces.
IS A CONCAVE CHEST BRACE FOR ADULTS EFFECTIVE?
Correcting pectus excavatum in adults using the conservative technique of physical therapy and orthoses is not impossible, but it is much more challenging. In the "Orthopedic Approach to Pectus Deformities" study, 175 out of all patients tested were adults.
They all noticed an improvement in their chest wall appearance using orthoses (braces). As I previously said, bone and cartilage are flexible substances that external forces can remodel.
However, as you grow older, the flexibility "stiffens" and becomes harder to be reshaped.
WHAT AGE GROUP IS THE BEST CANDIDATE
Children and adolescents are the best candidates for correcting deformities non-surgically. The steady exterior force created by a brace on the sternal and costal protrusions on your chest wall is very effective. Combine this with concave chest exercises and vacuum bell therapy.
That will increase the intrathoracic pressure on the hollow areas of your chest. You'll see excellent results in your chest appearance after a 5-6-month period. Back in the day, only children and teenagers wore compressive braces for an inverted chest. Nowadays, many adults are wearing them, yielding fruitful results.
IT REQUIRES A LOT OF DISCIPLINE
If you're an adult patient and want to use an alternative non-surgical way to treat the condition, I would like to tell you that it takes a lot of discipline and dedication.
You need immense willpower if you want to repair a severely sunken chest. Most adults cannot always wear the concave chest brace because of societal and professional obligations.
The reduced brace wearing time will directly impact the success of fixing the deformity with the Dynamic Remodeling method (brace + exercise). Adolescents and children have a higher success rate than adults because they can wear the brace for longer.
Suppose you can wear the pectus excavatum brace for the same time as children or adolescents during the day. In that case, you'll possibly be able to correct the condition just as fast as them.
ARE THERE ANY RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH SUNKEN CHEST BRACES?
Overcorrection is a severe problem closely related to pectus carinatum (pigeon chest), not pectus excavatum.
The only complication you can get from the Dynamic Remodeling method (bracing + exercising) is skin rashes from the brace. The area where the outbreaks occur is where the brace creates external pressure during treatment.
The intensity of the skin rash differs from person to person. Some patients may be allergic to some of the brace materials.
Although this is extremely rare, it may still irritate some patients.
LOOK FOR DERMATOLOGICALLY TESTED BRACES
The braces for the pectus excavatum I reviewed in the comparison chart above are made of dermatologically tested materials. If you're annoyed by skin irritation, I recommend you wear the brace over a cotton shirt.
However, you won't be able to feel the compression on the same level as if you wear the brace naked. Yet, it still works in your favor and gradually helps you correct the condition.
Skid marks from the brace are ubiquitous. Usually, they go away when you take the brace off.
HOW LONG SHOULD I WEAR THE INTENDED CHEST BRACE?
15 HOURS FOR FASTER AND BETTER RESULTS
I recommend using the brace for 15 hours daily for faster and more successful results.
10 HOURS FOR SLOWER RESULTS
Patients who wore the brace for less than 10 hours had a slower correction time. Five hours can change a lot when fixing a sunken chest.
6 HOURS AND LESS FOR MAINTENANCE
Wearing a pectus excavatum brace for less than 6 hours will prevent the condition from worsening.
5 SITUATIONS WHERE YOU SHOULD WEAR THE BRACE
For faster results, you should wear the pectus excavatum brace as much as possible. You can wear it underneath your shirt, so there shouldn't be any excuse for not wearing it.
You're prone to poor posture when sitting at the office or doing something with your hands in front of you. This will only worsen your funnel chest condition.
You don't want this to happen at any cost. Improving your posture on day to day basis is essential in correction. Let me state a few practical situations where you should wear the brace.
AT THE WORKPLACE
You lose awareness of your posture when you're focused on your work. The bad thing is that the posture will get worse. This is the number one reason people who work long hours in the office have a bad posture.
Writing e-mails and staying in pointless long meetings can worsen your posture and funnel chest. Wearing a brace in these situations will keep your posture alert and give you more energy throughout the day.
Also, wearing it during this time of the day is critical because 8-hour workdays seem to cover a large percentage of your time.
WATCHING TV & MOVIES
Make it a habit to put on the pectus excavatum brace before turning on the TV. Does your sofa have a lasting butt print that you can sink into?
Before you know it, it is already 3 AM, and you eat a whole bag of potato chips full of saturated fat. To lessen the guilt you feel, make sure you wear the brace the next time you watch ten episodes of Game of Thrones.
At least you'll improve the appearance of your chest while watching Bronn fighting for Tyrion.
READING / STUDYING
It is effortless to get preoccupied with reading and forget to maintain the correct posture. Make sure to put on the pectus excavatum brace before opening any book.
Also, scrolling through the Facebook newsfeed can be highly time-consuming and addictive. Just before you know it, you stumbled upon an unknown person's profile and waste two precious hours of your day.
WHILE USING YOUR PHONE
Every time you use your phone for social media, business, or playing games, you must wear a posture brace. Spending long hours on your phone with your hands in front of you will lead to neck and shoulder pain.
Improper posture has been proven to worsen the pectus excavatum condition. A recent study has shown that smartphone usage time hurts your posture and breathing function.
You'll be prone to a forward head posture, rounded shoulders, and slumped posture. This posture can harm the cervical and lumbar spine.
You must pay attention to the duration of usage and the posture you maintain while using smartphones.
Suppose you frequently go to the gym for bodybuilding exercises for pectus excavatum. In that case, you're probably spending a lot of time in the kitchen feeding your body.
It is an activity that makes you put your arms in front of you, forcing you into a bad posture. This can be a reason why your posture is slumped over.
If you check the employees in some traditional bakeries, you'll notice that they don't have a proper upright posture. Also, see how most of the world's famous chefs have a slouched-over stance.
Make sure you put on the funnel chest brace before entering the kitchen.
CLEANING THE HOUSE / LAWN MOWING
This primarily applies to adults with pectus excavatum. As a parent, you'll spend a reasonable time cleaning your household.
Vacuum cleaning requires you to hunch over. The same applies to floor-sweeping. This is an excellent time to put a brace on.
If you have a large garden, you should do lawn mowing frequently. You will feel posture-related pains in the neck, shoulders, and upper back if you decide not to wear a brace for a concave chest.
WALKING / JOGGING
The greatest pectus excavatum compressive braces I reviewed above can be worn during substantial physical activities. When most runners get tired during their session, their shoulders slump over, causing poor posture.
This is where wearing a brace thrives. Going for a walk on the beach or grocery store is an excellent time to put on the brace.
WEAR IT AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
You should wear a brace for pectus excavatum throughout your day. There won't be any harmful effects on your body.
It will only speed up your funnel chest correction time while improving your posture and confidence. Standing upright daily will boost your self-confidence to a level you've probably never seen before.
Anxiety-related issues will be gone, and you'll feel much better in social interactions. Wearing pectus excavatum posture orthoses will also have a positive psychological impact on you.
In my opinion, this is a fact people who suffer from the condition have neglected. Depression and anxiety are something that you don't want to be a victim of.
2 SITUATIONS TO TAKE THE FUNNEL CHEST BRACE OFF
There is a particular time of the day when wearing a pectus excavatum brace isn't comfortable or needed. Take it off and put it on as soon as you finish these activities.
Even though some of these products clearly state that you can wear them 24/7, you shouldn't do that.
SWIMMING / TAKING A SHOWER
This is where a brace that creates compression isn't the comfiest thing to wear. On top of that, you won't be able to win the 30-yard butterfly stroke race with your arms being restricted.
Swimming is also a great way to improve the concave chest condition without surgery. There is scientific evidence of the effectiveness of swimming in treating pectus excavatum.
Ensure you rub the upper back area while you shower—that is where the posture brace collects sweat. You can't clean yourself if you have a brace on.
Orthopectus PECTUS EXCAVATUM BRACE BEFORE AND AFTER TRANSFORMATIONS
Before and after pictures, the pectus excavatum brace should motivate you to correct the condition without an operation. Surgery costs can go up to $100.000 without insurance.
The transformations result from using the Dynamic Remodeling method created by Orthopedist and Physiatrist Sydney Abrão Haje. All patients wore a brace for pectus excavatum underneath their shirts throughout the day. You can check more of Orthopectus transformation photos here.
Most patients stated that the first couple weeks of continually wearing the brace could be uncomfortable. However, as the days go by, you'll get used to that feeling.
You won't be bothered by the brace and can do many activities during the day. Check the pectus excavatum brace before and after pictures below.
RESULTS OF THE DYNAMIC REMODELING METHOD
While the correction time differs from patient to patient, a common thing among all these transformations is that they all managed to correct their condition by combining bracing and exercising. Don't get discouraged if you don't see any improvement in the first month or two.
It takes about 5-6 months to improve the chest wall appearance. Every patient using the Dynamic Remodeling method built tremendous self-discipline, trust, and desire to correct the condition without a surgical procedure.
You must trust the process. Whatever you do, don't quit when it gets tricky. In the end, it will all be worth it. There is a clear piece of scientific evidence proving this method's effectiveness.
Scientists have spent 30 years of their lives figuring this out.
Correcting pectus excavatum with the Dynamic Remodeling method takes a lot of dedication, effort, discipline, and motivation. First, you must realize that bracing can improve sunken chest conditions.
Numerous scientific pieces of evidence cover this topic. I listed a few scientific publications about the subjects throughout this article.
The next thing you should do were make an intelligent investment in the best brace for pectus excavatum in 2022. Dr. Sydney Haje Brace and LaceIT brace are the best options.
After making the initial purchase, aim to wear the brace for 15-20 hours daily. You can even wear it when you sleep to speed up the bone remodeling. Combine brace therapy with pectus excavatum exercises, yoga, and breathing.
In about six months, expect positive results. There is no need to undergo a pectus excavatum surgical procedure that takes forever to recover from in the clinic. You'll carry two titanium bars underneath your breastbone for three long years.
Bracing will provide external pressure on the flexible anterior chest wall. At the same time, it will improve your hunched-over posture. That's how powerful a pectus excavatum brace can be.
Don't be one of those patients who purchase a posture brace just for it to collect dust. They are all motivated in the first days, but after a few weeks, they lose the habit of wearing it every day.
That is why comfort is essential. All 3 top braces for pectus excavatum I reviewed satisfy the five rules every brace needs to have for a great experience. My last word of advice for you is to trust the process.
Stay disciplined when you don't feel like wearing the brace. That's how marvelous results are achieved with the Dynamic Remodeling method! Thank you for reading!