The Procedure

Pectus excavatum, a chest deformity caused by depression of the breastbone, or sternum. Pectus
Excavatum is generally not noticeable at birth but becomes more evident with age unless surgically corrected. In most instances the abnormality is due to a shortened central tendon of the diaphragm, the muscular partition between the chest and the abdominal cavity. It may also result from displacement of the heart to the left of mid-chest or from excessive pulling downward by the
diaphragm. Corrective surgery is best performed in early childhood. The heart and lungs are most affected by pectus excavatum. The heart is displaced to the left, there is more pressure on the heart, and the respiratory movements of the lungs are impaired. The effects include breathlessness upon exertion, pain around the heart, and dizziness. -
Encyclopedia Britannica

A Pectus Excavatum is a chest deformity which is caused by the ribs growing too long and they grow inwards. This makes the sternum depress inwards making the chest appear indented, as if a fist had pushed the chest in. It can be inherited. At birth you may or may not notice the
indentation. But as the child grows it becomes more obvious. In later life it can get allot worse and cause health problems. -
Jackie Kulick

In the words of the girl...."...Age three was the worst year of my life.  It started with a bone saw to my chest to correct a wisp of a torso that would hold a fist-sized puddle of water.  I imagine my little piglet body on that operating slab, my torso split wide for their manly hands to caress my avocado sized heart - to this day I cannot eat ribs, for the thought chills me, chewing on my own bones...

....Dozens of staples, stitches held me back together; with skill they had forced my ribs into normalcy, chiseled away the awkwardness and created a shape to entice the boys once my body spurted breasts around 12 years of age.  "Perfect", my gynecologist would comment many years later at an annual appointment.  Pressing his cold hands against me, his usual precise, clock-wise hand movements slowing on my breast examine - admiring, like they always do, the work of another physician.    "This scar is perfect.  The doctor, a genius.  The scar tissue is natural - it aligns perfectly between your breast and torso".

Later, I looked at myself for hours in the mirror.  My body so white, the scar blends, riding like a magical horse in the shadow of my breasts.  I touch it, run my hands across it, and I always get that feeling I am touching the inside of my body (another doctor told me that this is normal, the scar tissue builds up, the nerves rotating out of the tissue from the inside of my body to visible flesh)....

...I do not regret the choice my parents made.  Of course, it is still considered a "cosmetic procedure" to most insurance companies, unless the heart or lungs are affected by the growth of the ribcage - my body was like this, my torso turning in on itself, pushing organs into themselves - so I was fortunate that insurance paid for most of the surgery.

I do not regret it.  I really don't think about it too much, but there are times when I brush the scar in the shower, or hooking my bra.  Then I feel my insides, like only the doctors have.  It is then when I realize the enormity of the miracle of my own body, and the upside down bird that rides across my chest, chasing the answer to why my body chose self-destruction at birth...." - M. Kettenhofen


A before picture of a pectus excavatum patient.  The red in the middle is iodine (or something similar), used in surgery.  This picture is not of me - it is an image I pulled from another website (see links).  This boy had the same "fist of water" qualities in his chest cavity (along with heart and lung problems) to have surgery.  Surgery is the only option for individuals with "funnel chest" to live their lives cosmetically normal, and with proper lung and heart functions (image trying to run a mile in gym class like this).
This is similar to the scar that now runs across my chest.  Mine is more of an organic form, like one of those upside down seagulls you might see in a child's drawing, with my breasts pretty much overshadowing everything.
This is a recovery picture of the same individual that went through this surgery.  Unfortunately, I do not know the name of the doctor they named the procedure after (there are three main doctors that have specialized in pectus excavatum), and if it is the same as the individual at the left.  But the wound (ie - scar) is so similar to mine, I chose to picture this individual up on this website.
This is a picture of a three-year-old child that would eventually undergo pectus excavatum.  Since I was the same age as this child at the time of my surgery, I wanted to put this picture up on the website as a picture of history I do not have.  And yes, this is genetic.  Another reason I have not brought any children into this world - I do not want to burden another human being with this.
A nice, yummy picture of pectus excavatum surgery.  This is a little more invasive than I went through (I only had an upside down bird scar, compared to this child, who has an upside down U; during surgery, it looks frighteningly close to an autopsy), but the rearrangement of organs is the same.  Lungs, heart, sternum bone have to be visibly seen and adjusted during the procedure.

Links for Pectus Excavatum:

Pectus Info Pages

Pectus Excavatum and Pectus Carinatum Info Site

Surgical Treatment General Information

UCLA Pectus Excavatum Sugrery Page Ravitch Correction Procedure

Nuss Procedure for Pectus Excavatum

Lorenz Pectus System for the Nuss Correction Procedure

Leonard Surgical Corrective Procedure

Pectus Severity Index

Interpreting the Pulmonary Function Test

Confused about Pectus Anatomy Lingo?

What is an echocardiogram?

Everything you ever wanted to know about CT Scans or CAT Scans

Surgical Correction of Pectus Excavatum in Adults


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