Pectus Excavatum Life Expectancy in [2023]: 10 Years Lower?

Written by Mihail Veleski

Last updated on

Evidence-Based This post has medical citations

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. "

Dr. Klaus Schaarschmidt

He is the chief surgeon at the pediatric operation hospital at the Helios Clinic in Berlin-Buch. According to, Dr. Klaus performed over 1000 Nuss procedures on children, teenagers, and adults.

This is a remarkable number of surgeries, proving Dr. Klaus is a well-known expert in the field and knows the pectus excavatum deformity from the inside out. As you can see, the concave chest bone abnormality is not just cosmetic.

2009 STUDY

Researchers busted this myth in a 2009 scientific article. A 59-year-old male patient suffered from heart and breathing problems because of the deformity.

The study concluded that pectus excavatum could become significant as you age and shorten your lifespan.

concave chest causes complications with time

Researchers did a 2005 medical investigation to determine whether congenital pectus excavatum decreases lifespan. Researchers reported that out of all 50,496 autopsy reports, pectus excavatum was discovered in 62 people.

Out of all patients, six were between the ages of 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.


pectoralis excavatum shortens lifespan

Not all severities of pectus excavatum are causing harm. Suppose your anterior chest wall malformation is mild. In that case, it shouldn't cause problems with the internal structure of your chest and organs.

You shouldn't worry about your health if your deformity is minor. Nevertheless, it would be best if you still visited a Thoracic surgeon to run a CT scan on your indented chest to keep things safe.

Your doctor can tell if the deformity is compressing your heart and lungs by looking at the X-ray images taken from different angles around your chest. In addition, the CT scan helps determine 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.


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

  • Surgical Treatment
  • Non-Surgical Treatment


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:


Plenty of research shows 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.


In a frequently cited 2008 research by Dr. Castellani, major complications happened in 7, and 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% complete success rate of the Nuss procedure in this study.

The primary complications included accidental heart perforation and piercing of the liver, which required immediate surgical intervention. Also, bar infection occurred in two patients, and pectus bar dislocation occurred 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 judge and decide whether this type of surgery is minimally invasive.


A 2006 Norwegian article 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 surgeons inserted during a Nuss procedure. After that, they saw the aorta, the main artery carrying blood away from the heart, bleeding profusely.

The puncture was caused by the pectus bar. If the doctors didn't react instantly, the boy would die because of Nuss's procedure complications.


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

He underwent surgery in one of America's most advanced hospitals, the Medical University of South Carolina. Additionally, other scientific evidence shows 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 are marketed to pectus patients as if they are safe.

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


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.


  • Effectiveness is backed by 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


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 social media, movies, TV, marketing, the Internet, and magazines, manhood and masculinity are promoted as ideal. Wherever you look, you see the tanned and jacked Dan Bilzerians of the world with eight-pack abs, getting massaged by ten Victoria's 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 deformity playing a huge role in that.

concave chest life quality


Dr. Klaus Schaarschmidt, who I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, 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 be great: going for a swim at the pool, seaside vacation with your family and even making love".

Dr. Klaus Schaarschmidt

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

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

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


Scientific studies and experienced doctors confirm pectus excavatum can cause problems later in life. It is known that deformity can hinder the functioning of the heart and lungs.

If the condition is severe, it can displace and even rotate the heart. 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 at 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 imagined as a kid, please read the scientific studies I posted above and see that pectus excavatum is nothing to be messed with.

10 Sources



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