Pectus Excavatum In Women
The deficit of web publications for pectus excavatum in women was the biggest motivation for me to write this. I stumbled upon lots of women who suffered from the deformity and were looking for information online.
Probably the main reason why there is a lack of information is because science says pectus excavatum occurs five times less frequently in women, in comparison to men.
However, the deformity may affect the looks of the female breasts negatively. Those women experience underdeveloped and uneven breasts, which may require plastic surgery like breast augmentation (boob job).
If the deformity is severe, women patients may experience physiological symptoms, which may negatively affect their health. The symptoms are the biggest reason why they look for ways to correct their deformity.
Like males, pectus excavatum in females is also characterized by a deep depression of the sternum in the anterior thoracic wall. In simple terms, it is a deformity in which the breastbone is sunken into the chest. Pectus excavatum leaves a deep hole into the center of the women’s chest. This is usually noticeable after birth.
Statistics About Females With Concave Chest
Statistics show that ladies suffering from the pectus deformities are less operated than males. Most girls don’t get their pectus excavatum and carinatum abnormalities corrected in childhood or adolescence.
Because of this, most females rely on breast implants or chest wall silicones to have a visual correction of the deformity. However, this is usually not enough, mainly because the pectus excavatum can impair the functioning of the heart and lungs.
Undergoing plastic surgery won’t change the bone structure of your chest. This can shorten the patient’s lifespan for about ten years.
Females repair their sunken chest less frequently than. They don’t get the surgery done in their younger years, and then rely on plastic surgery in later years.
How Pectus Excavatum Affects Females
Most female pectus excavatum sufferers don’t report heart or breathing problems. However, if you take a look at them, you’ll identify a standard pattern.
Most of them show off a lack of self-assurance, and they have a terrible self-image. There is minimal information about the patient’s mental state before the surgical correction.
Comparatively, a lot of scientific research is done on patients’ emotional health after the surgery.
Nuss Procedure Helps Females Mentally
A 2011 study was done to investigate the psychological shifts after a Nuss procedure, and whether it will improve the physical appearance, self-concept, and mental health of both male and female patients.
In the study, the surgeries were successful, and the patient’s expectations for their chest wall were satisfied. Post-operatively, the patients had improved self-confidence, well-being, and self-acceptance.
The study concluded that correcting pectus excavatum will improve both the physical and psychological health of ladies.
The young lady examined in the study showed improvement in her self-esteem because the cosmetic outcome of the surgery was very satisfactory.
If the pectus excavatum deformity is severe, it negatively affects women patients on both physical and psychological level.
Girls With Pectus Excavatum Keep to Themselves
Most girls with inverted chest conditions are skinnier than regular girls. They have only one wish, and that is a regular chest that doesn’t curve in.
I don’t find it surprising that there are just a few girls that openly talk about their concave sternum. Most of them are using Tumblr to express their depressive feelings and talk with other women about the deformity.
I encourage all women that suffer from pectus excavatum to talk about their feelings and thoughts about their chest openly.
That’s very therapeutic. Seeing other fellow beautiful girls that are so stressed about their chest wall appearance will help you understand that at the end of the day, you’re not the only sufferer.
You can hardly notice the deformity in females because they can easily hide it with a bra. That isn’t the case with males.
Because of that, I think males are more obsessed with it because they can’t hide their abnormality when they go to the beach or at the pool parties.
Girls with funnel chest are self-conscious. They remain mostly to themselves and don’t talk to others about their abnormal chest.
Best Way to Hide Pectus Excavatum as a Lady
The best way to hide the deformity is to choose the right bra. Surprisingly, finding the right bra as a girl with a funnel chest isn’t a simple process.
Because of the indentation, most bras don’t sit right. That can make the breasts get completely exposed if the girls lean forward in a low-cut shirt.
Also, as girls with pectus excavatum grow older, their breasts can develop unevenly. Usually, the left chest grows larger than the right one.
This motivates girls to get a breast augmentation (boob job). The uneven growth further increases the difficulty of choosing a suitable bra.
Below, you can check the full guide on choosing the right bra for pectus excavatum.
Females can hide their deformity with a bra. However, choosing a bra is hard because of uneven breasts.
Can Women Fix Pectus Excavatum Non-Surgically?
The simple and straightforward answer is yes!
Women have chest muscles, just like men. However, the only difference is that the breast tissue in women is hiding those muscles.
Because of that, building muscle won’t improve the visual appearance of the deformity. Don’t get discouraged. Training the pectoral muscles, even if you’re a woman, can still be very beneficial. It’ll improve your upper body’s functioning, which is probably weak because of your caved-in sternum.
Women Sufferers Must Improve Posture
First and foremost, I will recommend you improve your posture. That is a great way to make the chest look less indented.
Walking with an upright posture is also great for improving your confidence. You’ll feel much more confident.
Fake it till you make it. Strengthening the muscles in the back, and stretching the tight muscles in the frontal part of your upper body will dramatically improve your posture.
The vacuum bell manufacturing company Pectus Healing has created a product designed for women. The silicone ring of it is much more suitable to fit the woman’s chest.
It provides more room for the breasts, so the vacuum effect will only pull the indented sternum, and not the surrounding tissue. You can also try deep breathing, also known as diaphragmic breathing.
It can help you expand your chest, and at the same time, teach you how to breathe correctly.
Core Exercises are Great For Women with Pectus Excavatum
Last but not least, I highly recommend you do core exercises, especially if your ribs are flared. If that’s the case, pay attention to the exercises that target the external obliques.
Exercises like the plank, side-plank, and scissors will be of a considerable benefit. I recommend you try Pilates. That’s the best way to fully engage every single small muscle in your core.
Ever since I started doing Pilates, my core became stable and sturdy as a rock. As a side effect, my protruding rib cage caused by pectus excavatum is no longer noticeable. I no longer feel any back pain, which was probably caused by a muscular imbalance.
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.
Doctors Must Examine Your Chest Before Surgery
Before any surgery to correct your concave chest, a doctor should check your heart and lungs for irregularities. You may be nervous about this, but this process needs to be done for your own good.
If the X-ray test shows that your cardiac and respiratory functioning isn’t affected by the condition, you may want to avoid the harsh possibility of an extreme surgery.
You can meet with a specialist consultant to find out what other options are available to make the dent less visible. If the hollow in the chest is extreme, it will cause breathing troubles that you will be conscious of, even if you don’t do an X-ray examination.
Pectus Excavatum Surgery for Females
There are two main categories of pectus excavatum surgery for ladies.
- Functional & Cosmetic
- Purely Cosmetic
Functional & Cosmetic
The functional type is meant to correct the abnormal, concave structure of the bones in your chest. That will lead to an improvement in the cardiac and pulmonary functioning of the patient.
This type of surgery is recommended for females in which the deformity is causing internal organ damage, and is impairing some vital body functions.
- Nuss procedure
- Modified Ravitch procedure
Nuss Procedure for Women
Repairing pectus excavatum with the Nuss procedure in women is widely accepted. Yet, scientific investigations of female patients corrected with this type of procedure are scarce.
A study published in 2008, led by Dr. Fang, investigated 15 women out of 126 adult people who underwent a Nuss procedure. The study concluded that the Nuss procedure gives satisfactory results for female patients, and the chances of complications are minimal.
A breast augmentation (breast enlargement) surgery can be performed after the Nuss correction area has healed.
All-female patients in the study were happy with the Nuss procedure’s cosmetic results, except for one that considered the outcome to be only decent.
Ravitch Procedure for Females
In addition to the Nuss, the modified Ravitch procedure is also one of the most preferred methods for correcting a sunken sternum.
Females are enormous fans of this surgery. However, they aren’t aware the incisions leave a permanent scar right across the center of their chest.
This is very unacceptable, especially if you’re only worried about the cosmetic repair. In my honest opinion, it is far worse to have a red, nasty, horizontal scar across your chest, than an indentation.
The cuts are 5 cm long, right underneath the breast tissue. They performed this adjustment to the Ravitch procedure in 12 female patients since 1991.
The surgery was very successful, and the women patients were happy with the final results. No pectus excavatum recurrence was noted.
The Nuss and Ravtich procedures can repair your deformity both visually and functionally.
The cosmetic type of surgery is not a necessity. It is excellent for those who want to improve the looks of their chest. This type of surgery doesn’t affect the bones in any way.
It can’t improve the cardiac or respiratory functioning of your body. It is ideal for milder cases of deformity. This type of surgery usually doesn’t require a hospital stay.
Undergoing a plastic surgery will only fix your deformity visually.
Even though pectus excavatum is five times less likely to occur in girls, it is still the most common chest wall malformation. It psychologically negatively affects women, especially those in the teenage years.
If your deformity is moderate, then the chances of it affecting the vital internal organs is slim to none. However, you still need to visit a Thoracic Surgeon and do a physical examination.
The doctor should perform a CT scan and see whether your heart and lungs are affected by the deformity.
You can also consider a breast augmentation surgery. If the deformity is severe and affects the pulmonary and cardiac functioning, consider undergoing a Nuss or Ravitch procedure.
Lastly, please learn to love the shape of your body. Embrace the dent in your breastbone. Consider it a blessing in disguise. It is a condition that makes you unique.