Vacuum Bell Therapy for Pectus Excavatum
A vacuum bell is a cup or bowl-shaped device, made of orthopedic silicone.
It is connected to a pump. It should be placed directly on the dent in your chest. For best results, it should be sized to fit each patient perfectly.
The purpose of the pump is to suck the air out of the device. This creates a vacuum or suction that pulls the sternum in a normal position.
It needs to be applied daily.
After a certain period of constant device use, the breastbone will get back to a corrected position on its own.
Nowadays, it is considered as an excellent alternative to surgery.
Patients with mild pectus excavatum are the ideal candidates for vacuum bell therapy, especially if they want to evade surgical procedures.
The vacuum bell causes small cracks (microfractures) in the sternum. New bone material will form in the fracture gaps to stabilize the "new" breast form.
However, it is safe and straightforward to use.
Does the Vacuum Bell Work for Funnel Chest Correction?
Most of the research on the effectiveness of the vacuum bell therapy for pectus excavatum comes from a study done in Switzerland. The study included 140 patients (112 males and 28 females).
In this study, the patients averaged around 100 minutes of vacuum bell application a day. The therapy was finished after 20.5 months.
In 61 patients, the breastbone was raised to a normal level after 21.8 months of therapy.
To conclude, about 80 percent of all patients saw a tremendous improvement in their chest wall, and about 15 percent of them got a total repair. A few patients had only applied the suction cup device for nearly a month.
There is a definite chance that they could've had fantastic improvement if they continued to follow the therapy.
The study's successful results are the exact reason why doctors worldwide feel comfortable doing the vacuum bell treatment on patients.
CT Scan Confirms Instant Lifting of the Sunken Chest
CT scan images of the Pediatric Surgical Clinic of the University of Jena in Germany show an immediate lifting of the sunken chest after a vacuum bell therapy.
The images above show the Eckart Klobe vacuum bell's effectiveness on the first day of therapy.
The before and after images are done only a few minutes apart.
Patient 1 CT Scan Image
This is the very first CT scan image done on a patient who started the vacuum bell therapy.
In the Before photo, you can see a noticeable dent in the sternum.
You can see how effective the vacuum bell device is in lifting the sunken chest to a normal position in the second photo.
Patient 2 CT Scan Image
Again, you can also see a fantastic improvement in the raising of the indented chest.
This proves how effective the vacuum bell therapy is in correcting the pectus excavatum deformity.
What Doctors Have to Say About the Vacuum bell
Dr. Corey Iqbal is a general surgeon in Overland Park, Kansas, and is allied with Overland Park Regional Medical Center. He did postgraduate training at the Mayo Clinic and has a track record of trying innovative things.
Dr. Corey received his medical degree from the University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Medicine.
Here is what he had to say about the vacuum bell therapy for pectus excavatum in a recent 2019 interview for Kansas City's most extensive, award-winning healthcare network.
In addition, he said the following:
“The risks of a vacuum bell therapy are minimal, while the benefits are potentially significant.”
Dr. Corey Iqbal
You can read the full interview about why he is such a massive fan of the vacuum bell therapy for pectus excavatum here.
What Other Surgeons Have to Say
Also, lots of other surgeons started implementing the suction bell therapy.
Dr. Robert J. Obermeyer is the leader of the non-surgical correction of the inverted chest at CHKD, the nation's best exploration facility for chest-wall abnormalities and a teaching site for doctors from around the world.
“Years from now, we may look at the surgical procedures and realize that many of these deformities could’ve been repaired with vacuum devices.”
Robert J. Obermeyer
The vacuum bell is the first non-surgical device pectus excavatum specialists ever used to fix a funnel chest.
Dr. Obermeyer also said, "CHKD has always made attempts to decrease operating, and I believe this could wipe out the need for surgery in some pectus excavatum patients,"
In the video below, you can see Dr. Obermeyer applying the vacuum bell to a patient with a sunken chest who doesn't want to undergo surgery.
The VB device is used in Europe for many years, yielding incredible results. Investigation indicates that the chest improvement could be permanent.
Dr. Obermeyer went to see pectus experts in Switzerland who used the vacuum bell effectively. Ever since he has been active in bringing this technology to the United States.
However, it is strange how the vacuum bell therapy for pectus excavatum is still dismissed by conventional medicine as an "alternative method."
It shows that many doctors are not seriously concerned with the non-surgical treatment of the deformity.
Every established surgeon prefers to operate. That's what they studied and learned in medical school for plenty of years. I really can't blame them at all. That is the way they earn their money.
Since the beginning of the health system, there was nothing but surgery for pectus excavatum correction. Now there is an alternative, the vacuum bell method.
Plenty of scientific studies show satisfactory results when it comes to vacuum bell correction for pectus excavatum. Also, a lot of surgeons worldwide start to implement the VB therapy for their patients.
4 Fundamental Things You Must Know About the VB
Where to Apply the Vacuum Bell
In most cases, the placing of the suction cup is done over the center of the hollowed chest, in between the nipples.
As a guideline, try to apply the device's hose nozzle over the sternum's upper area.
How to Attach the Vacuum Bell
To attach the device, it's silicone ring should be spread and moderately pressed to the body. It should tighten up by itself when its inner sides come into contact with the skin.
When the vacuum is applied, the VB should attach to your body by itself.
How to Apply Suction Pressure
The vacuum force is generated when you press the suction pump. To further increase the negative vacuum pressure, press the suction pump again when it regained its original form.
How to Take It Off
The vacuum bell needs to re-expose to air.
For this to be done, you need to do the following thing.
At the end of a therapy session, you should turn the suction pump's air inlet valve.
That is done, so air will come into the device slowly to avoid sudden aeration.
6 Fantastic Benefits of Vacuum Bell Therapy Over Surgery
As stated by Eckart Klobe, VB therapy has the following characteristics.
Notice how different these characteristics are in comparison to surgery. Also, with a Nuss procedure, you'll have two titanium bars beneath your breastbone for three years.
The surgery is excruciating and will limit your physical activity for around ten weeks. The suction bell can be removed at any time in the day, and you can continue to play your favorite sport with your buddies.
After that, you can put on the vacuum bell again.
That isn't the case with the surgery. Removing the pectus bars will require additional surgery.
These are the most notable advantages of vacuum bell therapy over an operation.
You'll Become Your Own Doctor
With the vacuum bell therapy, you are your doctor. There is a lot of room for creativity. There is very little pain in comparison to surgery. If the pain gets intolerable, you can take off the suction bell for a moment.
At the end of the VB treatment, there are no scars. You are uninhibited and can move freely.
The pain isn't too bad for a painkiller. There is no need to go to the doctor if a blister on the skin occurs.
If you want lasting successes with the vacuum bell, it takes a lot of time and discipline. You need to apply the device during the day consistently.
As an adult or teenager, you must clench your jaw and go on. You must continue the treatment for at least six months.
Some patients think that there is no correction at all and become impatient. Usually, there are no doctors to motivate them to continue the therapy.
Most recently, an Optical Scanning Device can be used for impatient patients to notice the differences before and after the vacuum bell treatment.
The goal of this approach is to keep these patients motivated.
If you have any questions and problems regarding the suction bell therapy and have nobody to get in touch with, feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me personally.
I will gladly respond and help you with the situation you're dealing with.
There are plenty of advantages of VB therapy over surgery. These advantages are enough for patients to choose this non-surgical treatment over minimally invasive procedures.
How to Order Eckart Klobe’s Vacuum Bell
Purchasing Eckart Klobe's vacuum bell is a complicated process. It can only be ordered from Germany.
The process of ordering is even more challenging for those that don't speak German.
To order, you must send direct letters to the originator and producer of the vacuum bell, Mr. Eckart Klobe himself.
You can find his contact information on his website.
However, the website is outdated by today's standards, and some visitors may find it confusing.
Before ordering, a doctor must confirm your suitability for the vacuum bell on a form. If everything is right, you'll get a "declaration of acquisition." Then, you send this form to Mr. Klobe.
If your doctor isn't willing to do that at all, Mr. Klobe can find you doctors who are familiar with vacuum bell therapy.
There is also another good company that builds excellent vacuum bells, similar to Eckart Klobe's. The manufacturer is called PectusHealing.
You can order the device immediately from their website. You can check my review on the PectusHealing vacuum bell below.
Ordering the Eckart Klobe's vacuum bell can be complicated if you can't speak German.
Pectus Healing Vacuum Bell Device Review
best deal for today
What’s the Pectus Excavatum Vacuum Bell Price?
As of this writing, the vacuum bell cost starts from around $200 and above. There may be additional shipping and VAT costs, depending on your location.
As of August 2020, the vacuum bell is not categorized as a so-called "medical device." That is why health insurance companies can't cover the costs.
Consequently, the vacuum bell treatment isn't accessible to all patients. That's primarily because of its high-cost.
With that being said, in most European countries, the vacuum bell needs to be purchased by patients or the patient's parents. It is not covered by health insurance.
The same goes for nearly all countries in the world.
In the United States, it is still considered an experimental treatment. Because of the short history of practice in the US, it is not covered by insurance.
Marshall Kapp, an FSU College of Medicine professor, said the vacuum bell device is currently in the gray area, also known as the "innovative phase."
It's evidently past the research stage since it's been approved by the FDA. Nevertheless, it is not yet considered standard care to be covered entirely by insurance.
In some countries in South America, the VB's accusation is covered by the different national health care system or the local insurance.
The Eckart Klobe's vacuum bell is priced 615.15 Euros, with a 2% discount for fast payment. You can buy vacuum bells from other brands for around 200 Euros.
Doctor's Appointment Increases the Total Price
Depending on where you live, in addition to the device's cost, you must pay for the doctor's appointment. That dramatically increases the cost of the Klobe's vacuum bell, which at the end of 2018 was priced at 615.15 Euros, with a 2% discount for fast payment.
However, if you live in Germany, the health insurance pays for the doctor's visit.
Honestly, I think this is why the vacuum bell therapy in correcting pectus excavatum isn't widespread among patients. Patients aren't aware of the benefits of this therapy. Also, ordering the suction bell from Germany can be discouraging.
If you live in the United States or Australia, Eckart Klobe's vacuum bell's shipping costs will be too high. On top of that, the delivery time can be very long.
On the contrary, PectusHealing offers free shipping worldwide. You don't have to pay extra money in addition to the product's cost.
Fortunately, those vacuum bells are built upon Eckart Klobe's principles, so you pay less for similar quality.
The VB Device is Worth the Investment
If you're suffering from pectus excavatum, there is no better financial investment in your future than in a vacuum bell.
A lot of people think that vacuum bells are overpriced. Because of this, they don't make a purchase.
This is true but to a certain extent.
Take a look at the shoes you got on. Look at the expensive car you're driving, the clothes, shoes, jewelry, and makeup you're wearing.
I guarantee that you won't hesitate a bit to buy a new pair of shoes priced above $100, or the new iPhone that costs three times as much as the vacuum bell.
Surprisingly, the thought of investing in a device that will help you fix the unattractive dent in the center of your chest doesn't even cross your mind.
If you didn't know already, the pectus excavatum condition isn't only cosmetic. Science has proved that it can harm your health. The dent may also get deeper if it is left untreated, making the deformity much more severe. The deformity can lower the life expectancy of a sufferer.
Scientists spent a lot of money and time developing a useful vacuum bell to repair your pectus excavatum and change your life.
The Vacuum Bell Can Change Your Life
In my mind, investing $300 in this device will be the best decision you can ever make for your health.
Comparatively, the pectus excavatum surgery costs thousands of dollars. On top of that, you'll live with two titanium bars below your sternum for three long years.
That is a painful procedure that requires a lot of pain medications. You'll also need to avoid contact sports because of a high chance of bar dislocation.
It isn't surprising that the vacuum bell therapy for pectus excavatum is becoming more popular than the surgical procedure. The best part is that the effectiveness of this therapy is backed by science.
After repairing your funnel chest, you can always sell the vacuum bell. It is a durable product that can't be damaged. The resell value will remain high.
This device is becoming more and more popular with time because of scientific evidence.
Investing in the vacuum bell is the best decision you can make if you suffer from pectus excavatum.
The Vacuum Bell History – How It All Started
The vacuum bell treatment of pectus excavatum has a long history. The process of applying a vacuum to lift the sunken sternum was first used more than a century ago.
In Europe, the idea of a vacuum device to repair the concave chest deformity has been discussed for years. However, the technology always trailed behind.
However, this wasn't a success. The materials were insufficient, and adverse side effects occurred. The suction cups used at this time were made of glass.
They were heavy, stiff, and unbearable to wear. Patients couldn't wear them for long enough. They couldn't see a satisfactory fixation sunken chest, and the vacuum bell therapy development has stalled
This stopped the use of this non-surgical method for plenty of years.
Ever since then, this method has improved considerably. Nowadays, it is an effective non-surgical method to fix the pectus excavatum deformity.
This method is also known as a cup-suction procedure, as defined in 2006.
Because of the invention of the pectus excavatum surgeries, and their initial success, scientists weren’t motivated to invest their time and energy in improving the vacuum therapy technology.
Most of The Improvement Happened in the 1990's
During the 1990s, materials for vacuum devices have greatly improved. This made them capable of applying powerful forces.
In 1992, the German chemical engineer Eckart Klobe created an exceptional device for the treatment of pectus excavatum. With this suction device, he managed to correct his concave chest in the years 1992 to 1995.
For two and a half years, he managed to elevate his breastbone to the point that no sunken chest was visible anymore.
Scientific studies concluded that Eckart Klobe's vacuum method proved to be promising and effective in the surgical and non-surgical correction of pectus excavatum.
In 1997, he registered his patent for procedures and equipment for non-surgical repairing of the indented chest.
The effectiveness of this method became popular among inverted chest sufferers. He decided to create an "everyday" suction bell. It had very little to do with his original model from 1992. He made hundreds of samples before developing a device that worked consistently.
In 2002 he applied for a patent for his "everyday" vacuum bell.
In 2003, Eckart K. founded his own business solely for the progression, manufacturing, and promotion of his useful vacuum bells.
In Germany, the vacuum bell is also known as "Trichterbrust Saugglocke." By 2004, the company already made the 400th suction bell.
ECKART KLOBE RECIVED AN AWARD IN 2013
The vacuum bells by Eckard Klobe are CE certified and patent registered. Nowadays, it is appropriately registered as a medical device.
Dr. Robert J. Obermeyer, heading the non-surgical correction of the PE project at CHKD, met with Eckart Klobe.
He visited the manufacturing facility where these devices are produced. He became aware of the effectiveness and safety of the VB.
That helped accelerate its classification by the Food and Drug Administration as a class 1 medical device, which permits the sale and use in the United States.
In the USA, the device was officially agreed upon by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2012.
4 Parts of Vacuum Bell That Actually Have Names
Suction Cup (Elastic Body)
The elastic body of most vacuum bells are made of orthopedic silicone. It is very flexible, pleasant to wear, and very compatible with the skin. At the same time, it is exceptionally durable and easy to clean.
Its chemical and mechanical attributes are also great. Don’t worry about it causing chemical reactions on your skin.
Every single vacuum bell on today’s market has a viewing window. It is made of polycarbonate.
Polycarbonates used in VB are very tough. They are optically transparent. Through the window, you can see how your hollow chest raises when you apply vacuum.
It is made of polyamide. The screw-coupling in the middle of the hose nozzle and the viewing glass has a reduced steadiness.
If you break the hose nozzle, you can ask the manufacturer of the device for a replacement. However, the chances of this to happen are very minimal.
Suction Pump & Suction Hose
They're made of PVC (Polyvinyl chloride).
Due to security hazards, the power of the suction bulb is restricted. Because of this, you should only use the suction bulbs that come with the device.
Back in the days, Eckart Klobe's vacuum bell concepts were so powerful that they could generate a powerful vacuum harmful to the skin.
Read This to Understand Vacuum Bell Dimensions
As of November 2020, there are three most popular vacuum bell dimensions: 16 cm, 19 cm, and 26 cm in diameter.
Additionally, PectusHealing offers 6 more sizes: 11 cm, 12.5 cm, 14 cm, 17.5 x 19.5 cm, 22 cm and 25 cm.
The vacuum bell size should be selected based upon the shape of your sunken chest and how wide it is. The patient's age, height, and deformity unevenness can also play a role.
Patients with Localized PE
Patients with localized malformation and children should use the smallest models (11 cm, 12.5 cm, 14 cm, or 16 cm).
I always advise parents to purchase the 16 cm model because it will need a more significant device to cover its chest as soon as the kid enters puberty.
This size works great for every child. Keep in mind that the device should be used for a year or two.
During puberty, your kid will experience rapid growth. That's why purchasing a larger model will always be a good idea.
You don't want to buy another VB because the previous one you bought doesn't fit your kid's chest anymore.
The center of the suction bell should be placed above the deepest point of the pectus excavatum.
Patients With Asymmetric PE
The sufferers with an asymmetric pectus excavatum (Grand Canyon type) should apply the smallest (16 cm) device to the area that has a more profound depression.
In my experience, the silicone of the 16cm and the 19cm models is a little more challenging than the more significant 26cm device and provides more negative pressure.
The medium-sized model (19 cm) is offered in an additional type with a strengthened silicon wall. It is meant for patients with big chest muscles or sensitive chest nipples.
It is called the "bodybuilder" for a reason.
It is also designed for adult pectus excavatum sufferers who have a tiny but deep hole. If your height is around 1.85m, then the 19 cm VB would be perfect for you.
If Your Deformity is Wide But Not Deep
Get the largest vacuum bell size (26 cm) if your entire anterior chest wall is hollowed extensively (there isn't a deep narrow dent). The silicone of this bigger VB is softer than the smaller devices. It also doesn't provide the same amount of negative pressure as the smaller ones.
Special Vacuum Bell Shape for Women
Moreover, a unique model is designed that fits adolescent girls and women. The silicon body of this model doesn't have the usual circular shape. It is intended to be easily applied on a woman's chest (not hindered by the breasts).
Of course, it is tough to choose the appropriate VB size without seeing a photo of the available sizes.
It is also critically important that the suction cup's circular silicone ring rests on your chest, outside the hollow.
If the edges of the cup rest in the recessed area, the suction cup cannot raise the indentation.
If you're not sure about the sizing, I'd recommend you get the medium-sized (19 cm), model. It has the benefits of both the smallest and biggest models. If the size doesn't suit you, you can return the item and get your money back.
Before ordering, make sure you check out all available sizes. Choose the one that is designed for your type of deformity.
How a Suction Bell Therapy Should Go
It is recommended to apply the first VB therapy under medical supervision.
If you choose to overlook this and start the treatment in your home, I advise you to have a relative or a friend right next to you.
You start by lying down to set the suction cup on your chest. It should be placed tightly and comfortably.
Slowly pump and increase the vacuum pressure. There shouldn't be any considerable pain. Feel how the inverted chest starts to lift to the transparent glass of the device.
At this point, it is entirely natural to have mixed feelings. You'll feel hopeful, but at the same time, you'll feel slight discomfort.
Pump and apply negative pressure to the point where you feel a minor ache.
Then, carefully try to stand up and walk around your room. Notice how the device stays on your chest without falling. That's the power of negative pressure.
You can wear it underneath your shirt. Nobody will notice the device unless you wear a shirt that is too tight. You can wear the VB and do the therapy at school, at work, going for a drink with your friends, etc.
According to Eckart Klobe, 15 minutes of wearing time is enough for the first time.
Your goal isn't to correct the deformity after one single therapy. The purpose of the first session is to get familiar with the power of the vacuum bell.
To finish the first therapy, you should do a follow-up Medical check-up.
A lot of patients are starting VB therapy on their own. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with that. Even Eckart Klobe managed to correct his deformity on his own, using the vacuum bell.
The first time I did the VB therapy, I wasn't under any medical supervision. However, I had my parents and my brother right next to me. We were aware that VB therapy is safe and doesn't have any dangerous side effects because many studies confirmed this.
Wear the VB when you have the time.
After applying the VB for several weeks, it may be essential to take a break for several days. That's done to dismiss any chest and skin sensitivity to external pressure.
With time, your protruding rib cage familiarizes with being raised out of the dent.
After a few weeks, slowly extend the VB application time to several hours in a day.
It is also advised to do Medical check-ups every month. A month after starting the vacuum bell therapy, I went to my doctor. He was astonished by the fruitful results. That encouraged me to continue with the treatment to the point of total repair.
For long-term correction of pectus excavatum, you should continue to apply the vacuum bell for a year. The length of the therapy depends on the severity of your deformity.
Don't rush the first vacuum bell therapy. Please be cautious and follow the guidelines that I listed above. Your goal in the first month is to get familiar with the power of the vacuum bell. Make it a habit to wear it on daily basis.
Phases of Treatment
To fix pectus excavatum with vacuum bell therapy, there are three stages that you need to go through.
The stages will define the frequency of the vacuum bell application.
Generally, the more you apply the vacuum bell, the softer your breastbone will become. After several months of daily VB application, the treatment won't be as efficient as when you first started.
Because of that, you will need to take rest days in between vacuum bell applications. That will help you maintain the effectiveness of the treatment.
Phase 1 - Mobilisation
During the first phase, you will observe rapid improvement in your deformity. You'll be extremely motivated to continue the treatment because of the success. The breastbone will elevate psychologically, and your bodily appearance will start to change. This will help you both physically and.
This stage will last for representative purposes until your breastbone is raised to roughly 20 mm of depth.
If your breastbone is sunken deeper than 20 mm, I recommend applying the vacuum bell every day. If you notice skin rashes in the area where you use the vacuum bell, then you should apply the device for three consecutive days, followed by one day of rest. One day of rest will give your skin time to heal.
The second stage starts when the deformity improvement starts to slow down, but you can still see weekly improvements. Usually, this stage begins when your sternum depth is about 20 mm and lasts until it improves to 10 mm.
I recommend you apply for the VB for two consecutive days and one day off in this stage.
During this phase, your skin will get more itchy and sensitive. You need to practice skincare more intensively.
In the third phase, the progress will grind to a halt. This stage is where you will begin to lose motivation because you'll see improvement only for several weeks or months. It will start when you go below 10 mm and last until you corrected the pectus excavatum deformity. If you're already satisfied with the results you've attained, you can stop the vacuum bell treatment midway through this stage and live happily with your flat, repaired chest.
During this stage, you will need to apply the vacuum bell device every other day. If you're less motivated but still want to continue the therapy, you can even take a week off every month. It will be enough for your skin to heal completely and gain the lost motivation to forever defeat the deformity.
5 Most Common Complications of Suction Bell Use
The most common vacuum bell complication symptoms are bruises and discolorations of the skin (subcutaneous hematoma), small red circular non-raised patches (petechial bleeding), pain in the upper back (dorsalgia), tingling of the upper extremities (transient paresthesia), and sternal discomfort.
If your skin turns blue after applying the suction bell, this is a hematoma (Bruise).
A high percentage of vacuum bell patients have such hematomas. This is nothing to be afraid of.
These hematomas usually go away very quickly, and recover on their own. Your skin will get used to the suction bell therapy within a week.
These side effects are only temporary and usually disappear with suitable daily use adaptation.
Generally, the vacuum bell therapy for pectus excavatum is considered very safe. Over the years, just a few problems have been reported.
Multiple studies demonstrated considerable improvements in the malformation’s depth and Haller Index with vacuum bell use. Also, they confirmed that this alternate method of treatment is both safe and effective.
Comparatively, the extensive use of Nuss procedures for correcting sunken chest raised the frequency of surgical complications. Plenty of studies reported increasing rates of near-fatal complications. Generally, injuries were caused to the heart and mammary vessels.
Because of these pieces of evidence, the vacuum bell therapy for fixing pectus excavatum has made this alternative therapy a focus of interest of sufferers.
The vacuum bell therapy may cause some skin complications. However, they usually go away on their own in a few days.
Does Vacuum bell Cause collapsed lung?
Vacuum bell therapy can’t cause a collapsed lung (tension pneumothorax).
Some people believe in this because tracheal suctioning is directly related to pneumothorax.
However, tracheal suctioning can’t be done with a vacuum bell. It is done by a suction device (completely different than a vacuum bell) to aspirate secretions from the airways, during surgical procedures.
Scientific evidence shows that Rehbein's method causes a collapsed lung during operation. This method is one of the few surgical procedures to repair pediatric pectus excavatum.
Pectus excavatum patients need to be cautious of the possible occurrence of pneumothorax, especially during minimally invasive procedures.
Is It Worth It to Make a Homemade Vacuum Bell?
This may surprise you, but a pectus excavatum sufferer decided to create his homemade vacuum bell. The unreasonable price of the Eckart Klobe vacuum bell motivated him to create his suction bell.
The patient preaches that his suction bell is working very nicely. He saw a noticeable improvement in his chest wall appearance.
This seemed very interesting to me and decided to see how it can be manufactured.
You can see how he created his own vacuum bell here.
Truth to be told, I was amazed to see how motivated this pectus excavatum patient was. He didn’t have any excuses. Correcting his deformity without surgery was his only purpose. Nothing could stop him.
We must learn to innovate our way out.
I DON'T RECOMMEND YOU BUILD A VACUUM BELL
However, I don’t recommend you build your own vacuum bell. The process is complex, and you will most likely mess it up.
As he said, you must be very careful with the Vacu Vin Wine Saver. It can generate a mighty vacuum that can damage your skin.
Also, you will fail a couple of times before you make it work. From a financial aspect, there won’t be any noticeable difference between a homemade vacuum bell, and one built from established manufacturers.
Likewise, please don’t put your health at risk. Investing in a vacuum bell should be your priority. Don’t consider the money spent on it to be a waste.
To conclude, homemade vacuum bells might work. But then again, there is a high health risk associated with them that saving a couple of dollars isn’t worth it.
Building a homemade vacuum bell isn't really cost efficient as many think.
On top of that, there is a high chance that you may mess something while building it. That can be hazardous to your health.
Effectiveness of Pectus Excavatum Vacuum Bell for Adults
Five different sizes of vacuum bells would fit any adult patient perfectly. The medium size “bodybuilder type” vacuum bell is built for adult patients.
It has a reinforced silicone wall , which has a higher capacity of applying negative pressure.
Correction of pectus excavatum for adult patients with vacuum bell therapy is possible. This is backed by science.
Doctors believe that adults have an advantage over teenagers, mostly because their ribcage is firmer and more stable. The adult sternum doesn’t fall back into a sunken position as fast.
For example, Dr. Eckart Klobe fixed his deformity in his adulthood for 2.5 years. He repaired to the point that no dent was noticeable any longer.
The daily application will differ from patient to patient. For example, grownups will have difficulty applying the vacuum bell at their workplace. Comparatively, kids have a lot of free time, which they can use for correction.
The anterior chest wall of adult sufferers isn’t as flexible as younger patients. This will increase the duration of treatment.
The fixing of adult pectus excavatum, with the vacuum bell therapy, is anticipated to last 24-36 months.
However, this time frame isn’t set in stone. Two patients at the same age may have a different chest wall stiffness. Because of this, if they apply the vacuum bell for the same time amount, one may see better results than the other.
For example, if the adult patient is more motivated and disciplined than the other, he will see faster and better results.
Therefore, I am a massive advocate of discipline. Make it a habit to apply the vacuum bell daily, even when you don’t feel like doing it.
Some motivated adults with inverted chest apply the vacuum bell during office hours, for 8 hours a day. They don’t care what their coworkers think about them. Their purpose of correcting their abnormal chest without surgery is higher than other people’s judgments.
Eckart Klobe corrected the dip in his chest with a vacuum bell in his adult years.
Adults have an advantage over younger patients when it comes to VB therapy, because their anterior chest wall is less flexible.
How Long to Apply the Device Before You See Results?
First 1-4 Weeks of Therapy
When you use the Vacuum Bell, your sunken sternum is pulled up, so it comes close to the device's viewing window. Younger patients' chests can almost touch the transparent glass within two weeks of therapy.
Comparatively, older patients or patients with severe pectus excavatum need more than four weeks to reach this point.
However, during the first weeks, it is essential not to accelerate this process. Stronger vacuum or prolonged therapy times aren't required.
Lifting the hollow breastbone too fast is unnatural. It can lead to needless loss of rib cage stability.
After 10 Weeks
At the end of each treatment session, patients will experience the chest to remain in an elevated position throughout the day. After a couple of hours, it slowly falls back to a concave position.
The adults' chests will stay in a raised position longer, in comparison to younger patients, because their rib cage is firmer.
During the First 12 Weeks
Your posture and overall body appearance will improve considerably. Your chest will remain flattened in between one treatment and the following one, usually the next day. This wasn't the case in the 1-4 weeks of therapy.
In numerous instances, the improvement during this phase was about 0.4" (1 centimeter).
The effect of the suction bell is most evident during the first 12 weeks.
From the 4th month, the dent reduction is about 1 mm / month.
After 18 Weeks
The patient will have much more physical endurance. Lung capacity and heart functioning will improve. You'll experience a deeper breath because of the chest expansion.
However, the effect of the suction bell is most evident in the first 18 months.
Applying the vacuum bell wouldn't feel like a responsibility because your body and mind will get used to it.
From the 18th week and on, the reported monthly dent reduction is about 0.04" (1 millimeter) per month.
How Long Should I Wear the VB Daily?
At the beginning of the therapy, it is enough to apply the vacuum bell two times a day for about 30 minutes. The frequency and wearing time should be increased later in the course of the therapy.
Your body needs to get used to the vacuum bell during the first weeks of therapy. Learn to listen to your body. Don't force yourself to wear the vacuum bell for about 8 hours in the first week.
If you do that, you'll feel resentment with using the device. You can't form a habit this way.
According to Mr. Klobe, it is always recommended to start slowly and increase the duration with time.
Start applying the vacuum bell for about 30 minutes a day when starting. Then, gradually increase the duration.
How Much You Should Pump?
When you start the VB therapy, always pump until your inverted chest becomes flat. You can see this through the see-through window of the suction bell.
Consider this as a "warm-up" for your chest.
Wait 5 minutes until the chest relaxes and gets used to this new elevated position.
After the 5 minutes pass by, you should squeeze the sucking ball together three times. Then, repeat and pump every 5 minutes.
I always wait until the unpleasant sensation diminishes. After about 20 minutes, the hollow chest is almost touching the window of the suction cup.
At this point, pumping doesn't do anything. It can't elevate further because that is as far as it could go.
When your chest reaches this point, I recommend you sit in this state for about 40 minutes. After 60 minutes, let air in and finish the successful 1-hour therapy.
Try to pump until the sunken chest is raised up to the transparent window. Listen to your body. If you feel sharp pain, stop immediately.
Simple Tip to Maintain Negative Pressure Without Pumping
I've stumbled upon many patients that complain about a problem with negative pressure maintenance. They had to pump continually to maintain the elevated breastbone to the window.
This is very irritating if you're trying to do therapy while sleeping. During the day, you can pump to maintain the negative pressure. However, it is a whole different story at night.
I had this exact problem while sleeping.
As soon as I woke up, I noticed that the suction cup stayed loose on my chest.
TWO PROBLEMS YOU MUST FIX
There are two things that you must adjust to.
The first problem is caused because the pump ball and the valve are not tight.
After pumping and reaching the desired chest elevation, take the pump off. At the same time, squeeze the hose tightly so no air will come out.
Most vacuum bells usually come with a silicone plug designed for this purpose. If it doesn't include one, any circular item made of metal, plastic, or silicone with a diameter of around 7mm will work. You can grind it out to become cone-shaped. Then, it would be much easier to insert it.
Stick the silicone plug (stopper) in the hose, and you're good to go.
After doing that, the device should work correctly and stay tight without pumping!
See the following video.
The second problem is with the suction cup positioning on your chest.
If you try to sleep with the VB applied, you should put it a little lower on your chest.
Contrary, if you place it in a higher position on your chest, the air will slowly get drawn out of the device. You can hear the air getting out.
Biggest Disadvantages of the Vacuum Bell Therapy
The vacuum bell has a few weaknesses that are worth mentioning.
The most significant problem is that it is:
It'll bring a substantial improvement to your chest deformity, but it won't permanently flatten your chest in under six months of constant therapy.
With the vacuum bell, your funnel chest will never entirely disappear from your mind. You'll be reminded that you have a chest abnormality daily.
For example, if you wear the device for an hour, you'll be mentally busy on your indented chest for an hour. You'll get impatient, and you'll always look at yourself in the mirror. You'll wonder how much the sternum raised, how deep it will fall back, etc.
To conclude, your pectus excavatum will become a more substantial part of your life than it already is. That will last at least a year, depending on how severe your deformity is and how long it'll take to correct it.
The psychological strain was the exact reason why I decided to meditate. I felt a significant mental and emotional release while I was meditating with the suction bell applied. The purpose of meditation is to have an absence of thoughts. Make it a goal to release the thoughts and feelings of pectus excavatum.
When you are at home, applying the vacuum bell isn't tricky. However, you'll unavoidably get in situations in which the suction bell is very irritating.
However, these disadvantages aren't bad enough to convince you to opt for the surgery instead.
With time, you'll get used to wearing the vacuum bell. During the first weeks, you'll feel annoyed. But, with time, these feelings subside.
The advantages are enormous in comparison to the disadvantages.
With that being said, please think for yourself and decide which type of treatment will work best for you.
The VB therapy can be boring, monotonous and requires a lot of discipline. Even though you will see amazing improvement, you still won't be able to completely raise the dent permanently.
Can You Wear Vacuum Bell During Sleep?
The vacuum bell can be used even during sleep.
In my opinion, this is the best time to apply it.
However, many patients are uncomfortable falling asleep with their suction bell lifting their sunken sternum. If you're lucky not to be bothered by the vacuum, feel free to use it while you sleep.
That's at least 5-6 additional hours of vacuum bell therapy. If you're changing a lot of positions while sleeping, there is a high chance that you'll dislocate the device.
I am such a sleeper, and I had to wake up 2-3 times to create new negative pressure.
If you had a busy day at school or work, there is no excuse not to use the vacuum bell. Nighttime suction treatment is excellent to make up for the lost time in the day.
That way, you can easily reach a minimum of 8 hours of vacuum bell therapy a day.
As a rule, the more you use the suction bell, the faster you'll notice results.
In my opinion, using the vacuum bell while sleeping is the best time of the day for a therapy. However, not everyone can sleep with the device applied. It takes a few weeks to get used to the feeling.
Best Position to Sleep in With a Suction Bell On
The best position is to sleep on your back, without a pillow.
At first, you'll have an unpleasant feeling while trying to fall asleep with a vacuum bell on.
However, after a month, you'll get used to it, and the strange feeling will disappear.
If you sleep lightly, there is a high chance that your chest will still stay vacuumed to the window of the VB, even after you wake up.
Tips to Maximize Wearing Time Without being bothered
The vacuum bell application time differs from person to person. That strongly depends on how sensitive your skin is. The only way you can know whether your skin is sensitive or not is to apply the device to your chest!
However, skin irritation isn't something important to worry about. You should pay more attention to the health dangers of the inverted chest. The skin renews very quickly, but the concave chest has the potential to harm your heart and lungs.
That's why you need to apply the vacuum bell as often as possible, for faster and better results.
Best Way to Protect the Skin from Irritation
When I first started the therapy, I had skin problems because I was wearing it for more than two hours.
The upper levels of the skin become red and small bubbles may appear on its surface. Also, bruising can be caused by blood being sucked into the upper layers of the skin by applying too much pressure in the first couple of weeks. This will heal with time, but there are a few ways you can speed up the skin healing process.
I had horrible skin irritation for a long time. That prevented me from applying the vacuum bell therapy daily. Unless you interrupt the treatment for a few days until it heals, the redness will hardly getaway.
At that time, I figured out that the problems were caused by skin dehydration. Moisturizing the damaged skin is obligatory.
I started treating the skin after each suction cup application with moisturizing body milk once a day. After doing that, I didn't have any skin complications.
I have always used pure almond body oil that my mother bought. I highly recommend the L'Occitane Almond Body Oil. It works perfectly.
That's a great body oil to protect the skin from extreme negative pressure.
You can also take an oral supplement called Astaxanthin, which is an antioxidant said to have many health benefits, taken with Phospholipids (krill oil).
This speeds up the skin healing process, increases skin thickness, flexibility, and water retention.
Astaxanthin is also a natural sunscreen that protects your skin from harmful UV radiation.
It is proven to make your skin a little darker during the time you're taking it. It is a natural food colorant that works inside-out.
Before taking this supplement, it is recommended to consult with your primary physician.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body responsible for the structure, stability, and strength of the skin. Sufficient intake helps in proper skin repair. It can be taken as a supplement in the form of gel pills.
Intake of vitamins is essential not only for your skin health but also for your overall well-being. According to Healthline, the four best vitamins for your skin are vitamins C, D, E, and K. Make sure you get enough of these four vitamins.
Skin irritations are quite normal to occur. To minimize complications, it is best to use moisturizing body milk, baby powder and Fenistil gel.
What to Do If Blisters Appear on Your Chest?
This problem occurs when you vacuum too harshly, without a gradual progression. Remember to start lightly and increase the vacuum over time.
I experienced blisters three times during my therapy.
It is ideal to leave the blisters to heal by themselves, without popping them. Most of the time, they disappear after 2-7 days, depending on their size.
Usually, the blisters are filled with liquid. I used to cut and drain them with a clean fingernail. Then I disinfected them with Ethanol. After that, I applied chamomile.
The alcohol works as a disinfectant, and the chamomile mixture is anti-inflammatory.
However, popping isn't recommended.
Apply Penaten Cream from Germany at night. It contains zinc-oxide that serves as a protective coating for mild skin irritations. It also promotes the healing of chapped skin and diaper rashes.
Just in case, you should continue the VB therapy only when the sores are healed.
If you continue to use the vacuum bell while the blisters are unhealed, then there is a high chance to put new secretions into the skin sore.
Don't concern about the few day's break. The hollow will stabilize again, and the chest elevation will then last longer.
Stop applying the vacuum bell if blisters occur. It will only make the blisters worse.
Simple Tip to Cope with Annoying Itching
Itching during VB therapy is very unpleasant. It usually happened during the hot summer days while my body was sweating excessively.
I found a simple way to deal with this irritating itching.
Before applying the suction cup:
I have a lot of chest hair, so I had to shave it off entirely because it prolonged the skin drying process. The hair also caused me to itch and obstructed the vacuum bell seal.
Make sure that everything is dry before applying the VB.
The massage promotes blood flow to the nerve endings, which are responsible for the itching. This stops the skin irritation.
Easy Trick to Minimize Redness
I learned this method from a fellow pectus excavatum sufferer, who was using the vacuum bell therapy for several months. At first, the vacuum caused him excessive redness, rough, scaly skin, and even blisters.
He was in pain. However, he managed to find a solution for this. He didn't give up on the VB therapy and was able to correct his 3 cm deep inverted chest.
After doing the hairdryer trick, he managed to wear the VB for 5 hours on average.
So, here's the trick.
Before putting the vacuum bell on, make sure it's silicone ring is completely dry. Also, make sure your chest skin is dry too.
It is best to use a hair blow-dryer to dry the area quickly.
After doing this, expect the redness and other skin problems to disappear in a few days.
Dry the suction cup and your chest with a hair blow-dryer to minimize redness.
My Experience with Applying the Vacuum Bell Device
The first impression of the vacuum bell was a bit surprising. I didn't expect it'd be that big. I always imagined it being smaller.
The device is shaped something like a giant silicone doughnut.
I was thrilled and delighted. After I used it the first time for around 20 minutes, I instantly noticed that the lungs have much more space. It expands your entire chest.
After using the VB for about ten days, I managed to pump up the dent up to the glass. The morning after the 10th day of doing this, the indentation of the pectus excavatum (was 2.5 cm deep before starting the treatment) stayed elevated up to 1cm on its own.
I was delighted with it.
I PUMPED UNTIL I FELT INTOREABLE PAIN
To correctly position the device on my chest, I used to lean against the wall or a table to push it onto my chest with more force. I used this trick to better position the device without it falling off my chest during the daily therapy.
I was a bit hardcore with the VB because I pumped until real chest pain occurred. The motivation to fix my pectus excavatum deformity was too high at the time. Tolerating pain was a piece of cake for me.
However, if you have a gauge on your vacuum bell pump, try to pump the air out of the device to about 120 – 150 mmHg (5-6 inHg) of negative pressure and leave it on for an hour.
Other than the skin problems I had in the beginning, I had no issues whatsoever. My chest skin was beautiful after I implemented the skin routine before and after each treatment. The VB caused the skin to be reddish because of the sharp curves of the suction cup. Ten minutes after taking the device off, everything was normal again.
At the time, I was 18 years old. I must give a lot of credit for my success to my doctor. He was extremely positive and motivated me on every appointment.
The feeling of suction is extreme. When I tried to speak, I noticed an energetic vibration in the chest.
Generally, it is a gratifying sensation of pain that lessens after a few minutes.
TRY TO STAY DISCIPLNED DURING THE FIRST WEEKS
At the start, I could only use the device for a few minutes. The pain was tolerable. However, chest circulation sometimes goes crazy. During the first few days of therapy, I felt the need to lie down.
After three days, I saw that my chest was flattened through the transparent viewing window.
When I took the device off, the sternum stayed in an elevated position for around 2 hours before it fell back. However, it doesn't fall back to the old depth. It remains elevated for a few millimeters after a week.
I was amazed by this. It was proof that the vacuum bell therapy could correct pectus excavatum. I was so motivated that I continued to use the device without taking a day off.
It works just like a dental brace. If you do not wear them daily, the teeth will return to their original state. For best results, most patients wear braces from one up to three years.
The beginning phase is always the hardest. After a couple of days, you'll get used to it.
After five weeks, I could apply the VB without any problems for up to 2 hours and even more.
After I finished the final, third stage of the VB application, I decided to take a six-week pause. I wanted to give my skin and bones some rest.
During the break, the dent fell back by only 0.2 cm, while it was raised by 1.5 cm. The red circle and the darker discoloration in the center of the hollow were gone during the break. I didn't have any problems with the blisters. I wrote about the way I deal with them in the text above.
How I Managed to Wear the Vacuum Bell for 8 Hours a day
My orthopedist advised me to wear the vacuum bell for as long as possible. He told me that the sternum would get back to the hollow position if I only wore it for an hour a day.
At that time, I was still a high-school student.
He counseled me to wear the vacuum bell during the whole night for about 7 hours while I was sleeping.
I was doing that, and I was removing the device while I was preparing for school in the morning. I made a habit of putting on the vacuum bell as soon as I returned home from school for another 2-3 hours.
If you do the math, that is an 8-10 hour therapy a day.
With this simple tip that I received from my orthopedist, I managed to lift my sunken sternum almost to a flattened position in about seven months of therapy.
I was highly motivated to correct my pectus excavatum deformity. It was ruining my life on a psychological level. I ignored the red skin rashes that formed around my chest. All I focused on was fixing my inverted chest without surgery.
Generally, the younger you are, the faster you want to get rid of pectus excavatum. The older you get, the more cautious you turn out to be.
Should You Combine Bodybuilding and Suction Bell Therapy?
The suction bell didn't impact my training negatively. Surprisingly, it was an extremely positive experience!
I focused mainly on the musculature of my chest, core, and back. Back training should never be neglected. Those muscles are responsible for keeping your posture upright and sturdy.
The combination of physical therapy and suction bell treatment made the dent in my chest unnoticeable.
Performing bench press, dips, chest flys, dumbbell pullovers, pull-ups, and rows will have a tremendous positive impact on your deformity. Weightlifting will strengthen you both mentally, physically and will help you build discipline. This will help you in the vacuum bell applying consistency.
WEIGHTLIFTING BUILDS DISCIPLINE FOR VACUUM BELL THERAPY
I didn't have any struggle with the discipline of applying the VB daily. I genuinely believe that weightlifting was a direct factor for this. I always thought that performing these heavy exercises was ten times harder than having the discipline to put on the suction cup for a few hours in a day.
If you have the habit of going to the gym for a few days a week, then applying the vacuum device will be a breeze.
Additionally, I highly recommend you do yoga, Pilates, or other posture improving exercises before starting the VB treatment.
That will stretch your anterior chest wall.
Placing the suction cup directly over the dent will be much easier. Also, the chance for the vacuum bell to fall off your chest will be significantly minimized. Walking upright with a stable posture will ensure that the suction cup stays on your body tightly.
Combining weightlifting and vacuum bell therapy will make the dip in your chest much less noticeable. Your chest muscles will be toned and muscular, which can also increase your confidence to show your abnormal chest in front of others.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can the vacuum bell bend the bones?
Of course not.
The solid bone structure can't be reshaped with the Eckart Klobe suction bell.
However, the sternum's internal joints are moved, the rib cartilage is bent, and the connective tissue fibers and ligaments are stretched.
Are a couple of weeks enough for a full correction?
You can't permanently repair PE in a couple of weeks.
However, the chest will stay elevated on its own after every vacuum bell therapy session. When you apply the vacuum bell, the trunk is flattened.
Many patients with a compressed heart and lungs feel a substantial relief while applying the vacuum bell.
The device decompresses its chest. The patients instantly feel their lungs expanding to a point they never felt before.
However, this type of correction is only a mobilization of the chest.
After you take the vacuum bell off, the dent in the chest will fall back again.
It takes plenty of months of consistent VB application before the funnel remains stable without a suction cup.
Is it possible to permanently correct 1 centimeter in less than three months?
That is possible.
In most cases, the caved-in chest is closely associated with postural flaws such as scoliosis, round back, forward head posture, and rounded shoulders.
According to Dr. Eckart Klobe, correcting the posture problems with stretches and physiotherapy exercises will help faster repairing with VB.
Is the correction progress slower after three months?
During the first months, you should finish the most straightforward steps.
Those are chest mobilization, improving posture, and upper body muscle strengthening.
The most tedious and challenging task during vacuum bell therapy is stabilizing the sternum in a raised position.
How can I make progress after three months?
During the first three months, the mobilization phase stretches the fibers, ligaments, and joints in the anterior chest wall.
Mobilization is done by applying the vacuum bell on the inverted chest for at least an hour a day.
To stabilize in an elevated position permanently, the sternum should be kept in a raised place as often and as long as possible.
To simplify, try to increase the duration of the VB application gradually.
Try to use the device while you sleep. Aim to wear the VB for at least 4 hours a day in the second phase (month 3-6).
How long can you wear the suction cup?
Essentially, as much and as long as possible.
That's how you correct the pectus excavatum deformity in the shortest time frame.
However, individually, there are lots of significant differences.
Some patients can tolerate only half an hour of VB application. Truth to be told, that isn't enough to correct the funnel chest without surgery.
Usually, sensitive skin is the biggest reason patients can't endure even a 30 minute VB therapy session.
You must learn to listen to your body. If you're feeling severe aches, please contact a specialist and stop the therapy.
If everything goes smoothly, in the first weeks, you will be able to tolerate shorter therapy sessions. With time, you should increase the wear time gradually.
How to clean the suction cup?
To clean the suction cup, you need a soft cloth. You can moisten it with either pure water, soapy water, or alcohol.
Never use propanol or isopropanol. Propanol makes the vacuum cup cloudy.
Always be careful with ordinary disinfectants.
Most of the time, they usually contain propanol. Therefore, they're unsuitable.
Often, a lightly moistened cloth with clean dishwashing soap is more than enough.
While cleaning, please don't soak the cloth into liquids. Make sure the rug is only slightly damp.
That's because the valves of the suction bell don't tolerate water and will leak.
Just like I previously mentioned, the ideal age for vacuum bell therapy still needs to be specified.
Doctors believe that both children and adults have some advantages and disadvantages of VB therapy.
For example, physicians believe children with congenital PE have an overall advantage over adults in chances of successful correction with the VB.
Their bodies are still growing, and their anterior chest wall is more flexible. Also, they will be more motivated to fix their deformities than adults.
Alternatively, adult patients can benefit from an entirely different advantage. When the adult’s breastbone is raised after wearing the VB, their sternum sinks more slowly in comparison to children.
This is perfect if you want a carefree swimming pool experience. Also, you can do this before going to the nightclubs or bars. Members of the opposite sex won't notice that your chest is malformed.
It also allows for adults to distribute the VB application throughout the day. That way, the dent can barely sink back in between.
For example, apply the VB for one hour in the morning, one hour in the afternoon, and one hour in the evening.
That way, the chest will stay in a normal position throughout the entire day.
Is VB therapy more effective For kids?
Just like I previously mentioned, the ideal age for vacuum bell therapy still needs to be specified.
Doctors believe that both children and adults have some advantages and disadvantages of VB therapy.
For example, physicians believe children with congenital PE have an overall advantage over adults in chances of successful correction with the VB. Their bodies are still growing, and their anterior chest wall is more flexible. Also, they will be more motivated to fix their deformities than adults.
Alternatively, adult patients can benefit from an entirely different advantage. Unlike most children, most grownups have the breastbone raised after wearing the VB.
After a couple of hours, their sternum slowly sinks back.
This is perfect if you want a carefree swimming pool experience. Also, you can do this before going to the nightclubs or bars. Members of the opposite sex won’t notice that your chest is malformed.
It also allows for adults to distribute the VB application throughout the day. That way, the dent can barely sink back in between.
For example, apply the VB for one hour in the morning, one hour in the afternoon, and one hour in the evening. That way, the chest will stay in a normal position throughout the entire day.
Younger patients are usually more motivated to fix the dent in their chests than adults. Their chest wall is more flexible, which makes it easier for the vacuum bell to pull the dent up to the viewing window of the device.
How Powerful are Vacuum Bells for Pectus Excavatum?
A regular vacuum bell's power is enough to lift a maximum of 1 kg per square centimeter.
This isn't enough to lift a sunken sternum.
However, the suction cups that are designed to fix pectus excavatum can generate mind-blowing force.
Let's take Eckart Klobe's vacuum bell, for example.
The surface of his circular VB is 20 cm in diameter. That's roughly 315 square centimeters.
This device can lift a total of 314 kg with full vacuuming.
With partial vacuuming, the suction forces are congruently lower. For example, if you use 15% of the device's vacuuming power, it is enough to pull around 47 kg.
That's why modern vacuum bells can pull out the indented chest to the device's transparent window. Some patients use the VB's maximal capacity, so their inverted chest goes into a "pectus carinatum shape."
The vacuum bells are extremely powerful. They can pull up to 314 kg with full pressure applied.
6 Occasions When Not to Use VB
Eckart Klobe clearly stated a few circumstances in which the Vacuum Bell should not be used.
Don't use the VB therapy if you suffer from diseases that alter the strength of the bones.
Such diseases are:
In the case of Angiopathy. That is a standard term for an illness of the blood vessels (veins, arteries, and capillaries).
These can result from:
If you suffer from Coagulation Dysfunctions. These are disturbances in the body's capability to regulate blood coagulation, involving:
Is Using VB Pre-Treatment Before Surgical Procedure Effective?
There is a discussion between patients and physicians, whether using VB therapy before an operation is helpful.
However, the vacuum bell cost in the United States needs to be covered by the patients. Because of this, most patients aren't interested in this "pre-therapy."
Recent studies showed no remarkable difference between patients that did the VB therapy before surgery and those who opted directly for primary surgery.
In my opinion, there is no reason to purchase the vacuum bell device if your end plan is to opt for a Minimally Invasive Nuss procedure. It'll only add up to the costs.
The vacuum bell is powerful enough to fix the pectus excavatum deformity on its own.
Don't purchase a vacuum bell if you plan to undergo a surgery to fix your chest.
Ideal Age for Vacuum Bell Treatment
The best age for vacuum bell treatment is yet to be identified.
Studies are continually examining variations of success dependent on age. After making a growth spurt in puberty, the pectus excavatum severity will be at its peak.
Additional studies need to determine if starting the VB therapy before is better than starting it during or after puberty.
How to Remain Motivated and See Results
If you want to see progress and success, you must measure the deformity regularly.
I used to measure my chest with a ruler weekly and note the result on paper.
The vacuum bell therapy requires a lot of patience. It is hard to notice the results just by looking at yourself in the mirror.
You can gain a lot of motivation by merely looking at the progress that is evident on paper.
It's hard to notice any improvement in the caved-in chest, especially if you look at your body every day.
The vacuum bell therapy won't be useful for the impatient! Always remember, the funnel chest correction can take up to 2 years!
Another useful measurement tip is to take photos (front view and two lateral views at 45° and 90°).
First, take photos before starting VB therapy. After that:
Remember to measure your chest after taking off the device for 14 hours.
As you already know, the chest will be raised to a normal position after each session of VB therapy. It will gradually fall back to a hollow position, but not as deep as before.
That's why 14 hours of wait is required to have the same foundation.
After taking photos every week, I can proudly say that I raised the dent by 2 mm every month in the first stages of treatment.
As I previously stated, the progress stalls after a few months. However, if you do the math, that is still about a 2 cm correction in a year!
That is more than enough to correct the deformity and make the sunken chest less visible.
If you have a more severe case of pectus excavatum, you must continue with the treatment even after a year. Be patient, take measurements, and trust the process.
I wish you continuous achievements and persistence!
The following exercises and stretches I will show you are created to warm up and loosen up your chest muscles and soften the cartilage and bones before vacuum bell application.
They are also useful for posture improvement.
The warm-up will take no more than 5-10 minutes in your day. Perform the exercises slowly, and control the movement.
Take a dumbbell with both hands, and lay with it in front of you. Make sure you fully extend your arms and legs.
It is similar to the superman core exercise, but the only difference is that your legs will stay on the ground. You'll mostly feel this movement in your chest.
Hold the dumbbell for at least 5 seconds, then lower it back to the ground.
Repeat five times.
Drunk Man Stretch
Lay on your right side of your body, with the right leg fully extended and the left leg resting on the ground just in front of the right.
Put your right hand under your head. Your head should be slightly turned to the ground.
Your left hand should be placed behind your head with the fingers pointing to the back.
Then, rotate your head toward the ceiling. Feel the stretch in your chest.
Perform ten deep abdominal breaths.
Repeat with the other side.
This exercise serves as a warm-up movement for vacuum bell application. It should be done on a bioenergetic stool.
Grab a light dumbbell and rest your upper back on the towel placed on the stool, with your feet flat on the ground.
Hold the weight above your chest, and slowly lower it with straight arms until they become parallel with the ground.
Then, remain in the stretched out position for about 5 seconds. Bring the weight back to the initial position and repeat five times.
You should feel the stretch in your chest muscles and lats.
Standing Twist Stretch
Stand with your legs set at shoulder-width-apart, right next to the side of a door frame. Put the left palm on it.
Push your hips forward and rotate as much as you can to the right side, with your right arm fully extended.
Feel the stretch and hold it for about 30 seconds.
Repeat with your other side.
Set your feet at shoulder-width apart. Step on your left toes with the legs straight.
Take your left arm and put it over your head. Lean-to the right and feel the stretch in your sides. Your right arm should slide slowly on your right side.
With each breath, try to stretch even further. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, and repeat with your other side.
Chest Rotation 1
With your feet set at shoulder-width apart, hold the left pectoral muscle with the right hand.
Rotate to the left side with your left arm fully extended above your shoulders. Your head should turn in the direction of your left arm. Squeeze the glutes and keep your hips forward.
Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat with the other side.
Chest Rotation 2
With the same foot positioning as with the first stretch variation, hold the lower ribs' left side with your right hand. Usually, the left side of the ribs protrudes more because of the pectus excavatum deformity. If that's your case, hold the rib flare.
Rotate as much as possible to the left side with your left arm fully extended below your shoulders. Squeeze the glutes to protect your lower back and keep your hips forward.
Hold for 30 seconds. Do the same for the other side.
Stand with your feet set at shoulder-width apart. Squeeze the glutes to protect your back from hyperextending.
Stretch out your arms behind, as much as possible, below shoulder level. Don't hyperextend your lower back. Feel the stretch in your chest.
Hold this for about 30 seconds.
Then, take your arms above shoulder level. You'll feel the stretch in a different spot on the chest.
Again, hold for another 30 seconds.
Core Stretching Exercises
The following stretches will help you with the effectiveness of the vacuum bell therapy. In my experience, the sternum elevation lasted longer after doing these exercises.
Even though it is not mandatory, I still recommend you do these exercises before the VB application.
Hold the stretches for at least 60 seconds. At first, some of them may be hard to execute, but eventually, you'll build your endurance to the point where you'll be able to hold them for longer.
If you practice yoga, you may be familiar with some of the exercises. That is why I am a massive advocate for pectus excavatum sufferers to do yoga daily. It even helps in the vacuum bell therapy.
Depending on your flexibility levels, it is essential to do one of the bridge's three variations. At first, you'll struggle with it, but you'll progress in this movement as you try it consistently. It may take a few months until you're flexible and robust enough to go from 1a to 1c.
1a - Headstand Bridge
First, lay on the ground flat and bend at the knees until your feet touch your butt. Put your hands right next to your head, so the fingers of the palm point to you.
Raise at the hips as much as possible. The weight should be distributed on your feet, head, and hands.
If it is your first time practicing this movement, expect to shake a lot while holding this position.
Set a goal to hold this position for 60 seconds.
After you're able to hold it for 60 seconds, then it is time to go to the bridge's next variation.
1B - Handstand Bridge
Repeat the same movement, but try to distribute the weight only on your hands and feet. Elevate the head and try to push with your shoulders as much as possible.
This movement is a great strength developer for your shoulders. It mimics the overhead barbell press.
When you're able to hold this for 60 seconds, do the next, more challenging variation.
1C - Elbow Bridge
The last and final bridge variation requires a lot of strength and shoulder flexibility.
As you get into a headstand bridge, try to shift the whole weight of your body to your feet and head.
Grab the back of your head with your hands, and place the elbows on the ground at a 45-degree angle.
Push your hips up so the weight is supported on your elbows.
Then, you need to straighten your legs and push the body forward so you feel a more significant stretch on your abdominals and chest muscles.
Set a goal to hold this position for about 60 seconds. This is the final progression of the bridge. Stick to this variation as soon as you can hold 1b for 60 seconds.
The goal of 1a and 1b is to progress until you can do 1c.
Sit down in a meditation position. You should sit on your left leg, with the knees bent at 90 degrees. Your right leg should be in front of your left.
Your right arm should be extended, so your hand touches your shin area, and your elbow sits comfortably on your thigh.
Rotate with your body, and fully extend your left arm, so it is placed behind your left hip. Your fingers should point away from your body. Your head should point in the direction of your fingers.
For a better rotation, you can push with your right arm on your right thigh.
Hold for about 60 seconds. Repeat with your other side.
Lay down flat on your stomach and chest.
Bend your legs, and grab both of your feet from the outside with your hands.
Pull your feet upwards, so you lift your upper chest and legs as much as possible.
Hold your head up and forward. Feel the stretch in your chest, abdomen, and quadriceps.
Half Frog Pose
Lay flat on your chest and stomach. Place your forearm at a 90-degree angle right in front of you. Support your weight on your forearm. Bend your left leg and hold your foot with your left hand from the inside. Pull your leg to your butt, and try to rotate your chest towards it. Your head should point in the direction of your leg.
Hold the stretch for 60 seconds, and repeat on the other side.
Lay down flat on your stomach. Put your arms right next to your abdomen, with your fingers pointing in front of you. Extend and fully engage your arms, so you push your hips slightly off the ground. Squeeze the glutes to protect your lower back.
Bend back as far as you can while stretching the chest and abdomen. Your head should point to the sky.
Hold for 60 seconds.
Start in a kneeling position, and slowly lean yourself back until you can grab your heels. Push the hips as forward as you can. Open up the frontal part of your body and breathe with your diaphragm. Expect to shake and vibrate during this exercise.
Hold for 60 seconds.