concave chest causes complications with time

Pectus Excavatum Causes Problems Later in Life

In a 2012 interview for a German daily newspaper, Dr. Klaus Schaarschmidt explained:

 "If left uncorrected, the life expectancy of people with pectus excavatum is nearly ten years lower".

He is the chief surgeon at the pediatric operation hospital at the Helios Clinic in Berlin-Buch.

According to Pectus.com, Dr. Klaus performed over 1000 Nuss procedures on children, teenagers, and adults. 

This is a remarkable number of surgeries, which proves Dr. Klaus is a well-known expert that knows the pectus excavatum deformity from the inside-out.

As you can see, the concave chest bone abnormality is not just cosmetic.

This myth has been busted in a 2009 scientific article ☑️, in which a 59-year-old male patient suffered from heart and breathing problems because of the deformity.

The study concluded that pectoralis excavatum can become significant as you get older, and will shorten lifespan.

Science Links Pectus Excavatum with Shorted Lifespan

pectoralis excavatum shortens lifespan

A 2005 medical investigation ☑️ was done to determine whether congenital pectus excavatum decreases lifespan.

It was reported that out of all 50,496 autopsy reports, pectus excavatum was discovered in 62 people.

Out of all patients, six were between ages 1 and 4, twenty-one were in-between the ages of 14 and 65, and 17 were more than 65 years old.

Coexisting diseases or syndromes like Marfan, Ehlers-Danlos, Noonan, and Rett, were noted in 14 of all 62 patients who died.

The study agrees with the assumption that the pectus excavatum deformity can lower the lifespan.

KEY POINT:

A 2005 scientific research concluded pectus excavatum can lower the lifespan of the sufferer.

Severity of Pectus Excavatum Plays a Huge Role

Not all severities of pectus excavatum are causing harm.

If your anterior chest wall malformation is mild, it shouldn't cause problems to the internal structure of your chest and organs.

You shouldn't be too worried about your health if your deformity is minor.

Nevertheless, to keep things safe, you should still visit a Thoracic surgeon to run a CT scan on your indented chest. 

Your doctor will be able to tell if the deformity is related to compressing your heart and lungs, just by looking at the X-ray images taken from different angles around your chest.

In addition, the CT scan is helpful in determining the Haller Index of the sufferer. If your Haller Index is lower than 2.5, the sunken sternum doesn't cause any damage.

However, if the HI is higher than 3.2, it is considered severe and may lower your lifespan if left untreated.

In this case, you must correct the deformity if you want to live longer.

KEY POINT:

If your concave chest deformity is very severe, it will affect the heart and lungs, which can lead to health problems that will lower your lifespan.

You Will Live Longer if You Fix Your Severe Deformity

There are two scientifically proven ways you can repair your indented chest.

  • Surgical Treatment
  • Non-Surgical Treatment

Surgical Method

If the deformity is severe, doctors will generally recommend you fix the deformity with the surgical method.

The two most effective and commonly performed surgeries are the:

Nuss procedure

The Nuss procedure is said to be a minimally invasive surgery, even though it requires two or more metal bars to be inserted behind the concave breastbone.

The bars are inserted through small cuts on both sides of the chest, and are screwed to the ribs to stay in place.

They remain below the patient's sternum for at least three years.

After that, they are removed with an additional pectus bar removal surgery.

Modified Ravitch procedure

This surgery is commonly used to correct critical or complicated cases of pectus excavatum.

It is also used if you are not a good candidate for a Nuss procedure.

The Ravitch procedure can also be used to correcting pectus carinatum.

The surgery requires the surgeons to cut a huge incision on your chest horizontally, and remove the malformed cartilage. 

After that, they put the inverted breastbone in a normal position and put a small bar underneath it to hold it in the fixed place. 

The bar stays underneath the patient's chest for at least a year, until it is removed by undergoing another surgery.

KEY POINT:

You can repair the pectus excavatum surgically, by undergoing the Nuss or Ravitch procedures.

Dangers of The Surgical Procedures

Even though the surgical procedures are marketed as very safe and 100% effective, scientific data proves otherwise.

There are plenty of researches that show life-threatening complications during, and after the procedures. 

Also, few studies show the ineffectiveness of permanent correction, because of a deformity recurrence after pectus bar removal.

Please allow me to list a few of them.

First Study

In a frequently cited 2008 research ☑️ led by Dr. Castellani, major complications happened in 7, minor complications in 122, out of 167 patients that underwent a Nuss procedure. 

Only 38 out of all patients went without any problems.

That's barely a 22.75% success rate of the Nuss procedure in this study.

The major complications included accidental heart perforation and piercing of the liver, which required immediate surgical intervention.

Also, bar infection occurred in two, and pectus bar dislocation in three patients.

The minor difficulties even included accidental rupture of the intercostal muscle in 15 patients and lung collapse in 4 patients.

Please, be your own judge and decide whether this type of surgery is minimally invasive or not.

Second Study

A 2006 Norwegian article ☑️ led by Dr. Hoel T. N., shows a deadly complication in a boy, two months after undergoing a successful Nuss procedure. 

He was rushed to the hospital in confusion, with cardiac tamponade.

That's a syndrome that requires immediate medical emergency because complications of it can lead to death. 

Unfortunately, that's not the worst part.

Upon arrival, doctors removed the accumulated fluid from the pericardial space of the heart.

They removed the pectus bar that was inserted during a Nuss procedure.

After that, they saw the aorta, which is the main artery that carries blood away from the heart, was bleeding profusely. 

The puncture was caused by the pectus bar.

If the doctors didn't react instantly, the boy would be dead because of Nuss procedure complications.

Read the Story of Lewis Blackman

You can also read the story of 15-year-old Lewis Blackman, who bled to death after undergoing a "minimally invasive" Nuss procedure. 

He underwent surgery in one of America's most advanced hospitals, and that is the Medical University of South Carolina.

Additionally, there are lots of other scientific pieces of evidence that show life-threatening complications after a pectus excavatum surgery.

Unquestionably, there are lots of people that reap benefits from the Nuss and Ravitch procedures.

However, my main problem with them is that they are not low-risk surgeries and that they are marketed to pectus patients as if they are totally safe.

They are much more invasive, comprehensive, long, painful and require a long time for recovery.

KEY POINT:

There are clear pieces of scientific evidence that prove the surgical procedures for fixing pectus excavatum can be harmful, and even deadly.

Non-Surgical Treatment

I corrected my critical pectus excavatum which was compressing my heart and lungs, by myself, with the non-surgical treatment.

I am a huge fan of it and recommend it to everyone that doesn't require immediate surgery.

Let me state a few advantages of this method, over surgery.

Advantages of Non-Surgical Treatment Over Surgery

  • Effectiveness is backed with numerous scientific researches
  • You can correct pectus excavatum at any age
  • Doesn't cost a lot of money
  • You can continue playing sports without any restrictions
  • No painful post-surgical lengthy recoveries
  • No medications needed
  • Doesn't take a lot of time in your day

These are just a few of the advantages over a painful surgery.

I wrote a lot about the non-surgical treatment of pectus excavatum on this website.

You can do it by following a proven 8-week inverted chest workout plan, wearing a back-posture brace, doing a vacuum bell therapy, stretching with yoga, strengthening with Pilates, swimming and deep breathing.

The exercises are designed to strengthen the postural muscles in the back and build the muscles in the chest and core, so the condition would be less noticeable.

The stretches will improve your posture greatly, which will stop the deformity from getting worse.

The vacuum bell will elevate the abnormally sunken sternum.

You can see the effectiveness of non-surgical therapy in the following articles:

KEY POINT:

You can fix the sunken chest without a surgery. The positive effects of the non-surgical treatment are scientifically proven to work.

Pectus Excavatum Quality of Life

Pectus excavatum negatively affects the sufferers on a psychological level.

The mental harms are just as bad as the physical ones.

Because of this, the patient's quality of life is worsened.

In the world of social media, movies, TV, marketing, the Internet and magazines, manhood and masculinity are promoted as an ideal.

Wherever you look at, you see the tanned and jacked Dan Bilzerian's of the world with eight pack abs, getting massaged by ten Victoria Secret models.

As a pectus excavatum sufferer, this makes you feel miserable because the deformity is holding you back in life.

Most boys, teenagers and even adults suffering from the condition are physically weak and shy.

They usually don't have a girlfriend or boyfriend.

Their parents and friends can never get to see them bare-chested because they are too afraid of showing the cavity to the world. 

On top of that, there are numerous suicide attempts and even massive school shootings, with the deformity playing a huge role in that. 

concave chest life quality

Concave Chest Even Lowers Adult's Quality Of Life

Dr. Klaus Schaarschmidt, who I mentioned at the beginning of this article, shows how a 42-year-old American patient wrote: 

"Pectus excavatum is a robber. It steals happiness, self-assurance, and inspiration. It sucks the enjoyment out of many adventures that should really be great: going for a swim at the pool, seaside vacation with your family and even making love".

Things got more worrying when Dr. Klaus said that the severity of this patient’s deformity wasn't really bad.

Imagine how much the quality of life will be affected if the patient is in its teenage years, with a severely deformed chest that is causing breathing function troubles and even chest pain.

Please don't let the condition steal your joy in life. 

Do your best to correct it with either of the two methods that I listed above.

KEY POINT:

If left untreated, the pectus excavatum deformity will lower a sufferer quality of life, regardless of age.

Conclusion

Scientific studies and experienced doctors confirm pectus excavatum can cause problems later in life.

It is known that the deformity can hinder the functioning of the heart and lungs. If the condition is severe, it can displace, and even rotate the heart.

All this reduces the patient's ability to perform physical exercise effectively.

Climbing the stairs of your house will be a struggle because you'll feel out of breath and lightheaded.

This way, you can't keep your cardiovascular health on an optimal level.

Because of that, as you get older, your heart and lungs will be more prone to diseases and conditions that can end your life.

If you want to live a long and happy life, just like you've imagined as a kid, please read the scientific studies I posted above, and see for yourself that pectus excavatum is nothing to be messed with.

Thanks for reading.

If you have any concerns and questions, please post them in the comment section underneath, and I'll be happy to respond!

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