Women With Pectus Excavatum [2024]: How to Improve & More

Written by Mihail Veleski

Last updated on: April 25, 2023

The lack of web publications for pectus excavatum in women was my biggest motivation to write this. I stumbled upon many women with sunken chests looking for information online.

The main reason I believe there is a lack of information is that science says pectus excavatum occurs five times less frequently in women than men.

However, the deformity also affects the appearance 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 negative symptoms are the most significant reason women look for ways to correct their deformities.

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 in the center of the women's chest. In a lot of cases, it is usually noticeable after birth.


hayden panettiere sunken chest

Statistics show that ladies suffering from pectus deformities are less operated on 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. According to German surgeon Dr. Klaus Schaarschmidt, pectus excavatum can shorten the patient's lifespan by about ten years.


girl with pectus excavatum

Most females with pectus excavatum don't report heart or breathing problems. However, you can identify a standard pattern by observing the physical appearance. Most of them show off a lack of self-assurance, and they have terrible self-images.

Before the surgical correction, there is minimal information about the patient's mental state. Comparatively, a lot of scientific research is done on patients' emotional health after surgery.


If the pectus excavatum deformity is severe, it negatively affects women patients on both physical and psychological levels. A 2011 study investigated the psychological shifts after a Nuss procedure and whether it will improve both male and female patients' physical appearance, self-concept, and mental health.

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 ladies' physical and psychological health.

The young lady examined in the study showed improvement in her self-esteem because the cosmetic outcome of the surgery was very satisfactory.


women with concave chest are shy

Girls with funnel chests are self-conscious. They remain primarily to themselves and don't talk to others about their abnormal chest.

Most girls with inverted chest conditions are skinnier than regular girls. They have only one wish: a normal chest that doesn't curve in.

I don't find it surprising that only a few girls openly discuss their concave sternum. Most of them use Tumblr to express their depressive feelings and chat with other women about their deformities.

I encourage all women suffering from pectus excavatum to openly discuss their feelings and thoughts about their chest. That's very therapeutic.

Seeing other beautiful girls so stressed about their chest wall appearance will help you understand that you're not the only sufferer at the end of the day.

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 pool parties.


The best way to hide the deformity is to choose the right bra. Finding the right bra for a girl with a funnel chest isn't a simple process.

Because of the indentation, most bras don't fit right. That can expose the breasts entirely 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 breast augmentation (boob job). The uneven growth further increases the difficulty of choosing a suitable bra.


The straightforward answer is yes! Women have chest muscles, just like men. However, the only difference is that women's breast tissue hides those muscles. Because of that, building muscle won't improve the visual appearance of the deformity as much.

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.


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.

Yoga and swimming will help you tremendously with that. Also, consider the vacuum bell treatment for correcting pectus excavatum in women. There are a lot of studies that prove its effectiveness for females.

The vacuum bell manufacturing company Pectus Healing has created a product designed for women. The silicone ring 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, 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.


Lastly, 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 benefit you significantly.

I recommend you try Pilates. That's the best way to engage every small muscle in your core fully. Since starting Pilates, my core has become stable and sturdy as a rock.


The vacuum bell manufacturing company Pectus Healing has created a product designed for women.

The silicone ring 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, 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.


There are two main categories of pectus excavatum surgery for ladies.

  • Functional & Cosmetic
  • Purely Cosmetic


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 must be done for your good. Suppose the X-ray test shows that your cardiac and respiratory functioning isn't affected by the condition.

In that case, you may want to avoid the harsh possibility of extreme surgery. You can meet with a specialist consultant to find other options 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.


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


Repairing pectus excavatum with the Nuss procedure in women is widely accepted. Yet, scientific investigations of female patients corrected with this 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 only decent.


In addition to the Nuss, the modified Ravitch procedure is one of the most preferred methods for correcting a sunken sternum.

However, most girls aren't aware the incisions leave a permanent scar across the center of their chest.

This is unacceptable, especially if you're only worried about cosmetic repair. Honestly, it is far worse to have a red, nasty, horizontal scar across your chest than an indentation.

A few doctors, led by Tamer Okay, released scientific research in 2003 that showed the effectiveness of using two-sided inframammary distant skin cuts.

The cuts are 5 cm long, right underneath the breast tissue. They performed this adjustment to the Ravitch procedure in 12 female patients in 1991.

The surgery was successful, and the women patients were happy with the final results. No pectus excavatum recurrence was noted.


Undergoing plastic surgery will only fix your deformity visually. The cosmetic type of surgery is not a necessity. It is excellent for those who want to improve their chest looks.

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.


Even though pectus excavatum is five times less likely in girls, it is still the most common chest wall malformation. It psychologically negatively affects women, especially those in their teenage years.

If your deformity is moderate, the chances of it affecting the vital internal organs are 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 the deformity affects your heart and lungs.

If the results say no damage to the internal organs, you can correct the deformity non-surgically by exercisingvacuum bell remedybraces, stretching, and breathing.

You can also consider breast augmentation surgery. If the deformity is severe and affects 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.

Thank you for reading!

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