Can Pectus Excavatum Worsen With Age? [2024]: What to Do

Written by Mihail Veleski

Last updated on: April 25, 2023

Even though pectus excavatum is present from birth, it may not be very visible when the child is still young.

However, the malformation could become worse and evolve, becoming more noticeable as the child ages.

The cavity in the chest is often the only symptom or sign of pectus excavatum.

worsening with age

But, in some patients, the chest indentation worsens and comes with additional problems in the early adolescent years, which can last until adulthood.

When the deformity first becomes apparent, it usually progresses gradually and often quickly until puberty.

Since the chest wall is usually still flexible at this age, doctors recommend surgical repair around 12–14 years old.

That allows the bar to remain in place as the kid goes through puberty, which may help reduce growth-related worsening.

Does Pectus worsen after puberty?

People are sharing their various experiences on the internet. That is a great way to continue learning more about our deformity.

Symptoms undoubtedly worsen after puberty when your bones start to calcify in your early 20s. They believe the chest is no longer flexible enough to stretch to fit your increased lungs and heart pumping, making the symptoms worse.

The visible dent, though, should not get any deeper. However, if we do not start a non-surgical treatment and gain weight as we age, the dent may appear deeper with time.

There are far too many examples of young people who began to detect worsening in their pectus deformity and health after turning twenty. 

They express complaints about more than just their appearance, including increased tiredness, unpleasant sensations, and sometimes severe and persistent pain.

Because everybody and every pectus sufferer is unique, people will have varied experiences, which is normal.

If we give proper awareness and act in time, the chest situation will get better.

Patients report worsening even after age thirty-five, showing that there are no set guidelines and that each case is unique.

How quickly does It worsen?

Doctors shared their experiences, saying that in little than 6 to 12 months, a minor pectus excavatum malformation could worsen into a severe one (1).

During that stage, the deformity could get more complex and asymmetrical. That is why some surgeons prefer to undertake the pectus repair surgery before puberty since these changes make the surgical repair more challenging.

How healthy habits slow the worsening process?

The patient or family of the kid can choose several treatment options while under close monitoring during that worsening period.

Whether it is a surgical or non-surgical treatment, almost all patients begin with an exercise and posture program to help them control the deformity by standing up straighter and developing a larger chest.

For some people, vacuum bell therapy may be helpful, as well as a brace.

My situation

In my case, the deformity became more visible as I grew older, which made me feel insecure. As a result, I was able to stop my condition from getting worse, to improve it non-surgically, thanks to a doctor's consultation, continuous internet research, and my determination.

I love exercising, and it is now a staple in my lifestyle. I can't imagine myself living without exercising in any form. Nowadays, it helps me overcome challenging situations, as my deformity is far better.

That is why it is crucial to have a healthy habit, or if you don't have one, to work on developing one. Forming workout habits while we are younger makes things with the deformation more manageable.

Don't worry; there is always time to create healthy habits. It is never late.

Bottom Line

Knowing that our deformity can only worsen and not improve on its own can be discouraging at first. But if we turn everything in our favor, it will mean that our health and self-esteem are in our control.

We are the ones who can control the deformity, whether through a healthy lifestyle and exercise, a device such as a vacuum bell, or surgery. The crucial point is that treatment is always available.

As Dr. Sydney Haje recommended, I always recommend you try non-surgical treatment first. You can always undergo surgery if it doesn't work in a year. I strongly encourage you to do this.

I know it requires intense ambition and desire, but every one of us can find the courage to face this life struggle without succumbing to its ability to worsen. Thank you for reading!

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Article by:

Mihail Veleski

I am Mihail Veleski, the person behind this website. Established in 2015, Pectus Excavatum Fix (Now Mr. Pectus), has helped thousands of people improve their sunken chest deformity, both physically and mentally. I pride myself on ensuring the information and methods I share are tried by me and backed by research. I improved my concave chest and rib flare deformities non-surgically.

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