At the age of two my chest collapsed causing the pectus excavatum. It slowly, but surely started pressing into my heart. The surgeon said if I didn't have the surgery, by the age of 18, my chest would crush my heart. At 17, I had one bar placed in my chest for four years and had the bar removed at 21. My chest has restored itself to the way it was before the (NUSS) surgery.

Here's a link to my surgery, as well as picture documentation. (Yes, that is me in the images.)

Here are recent photos:


Alternative proof:

Edit: Clarifying my thought: Overall I would say this surgery was not worth it, for the short time I had no problems compared to recovery time. I just wanted to bring to light, what a failed surgery looks like.

Edit 2: Thanks for all the questions, signing off for now. If you keep posting questions I'll try to respond to them in a timely manner.

Comments: 113 • Responses: 43  • Date: 

eyesearskneesandtoes33 karma

What is your favourite food ?

buddhabc34 karma

Chicken nuggets and chocolate frosties

eyesearskneesandtoes10 karma

Dip for the nuggets ?

buddhabc20 karma


FrENTlyguy26 karma

Yes I like that nickname but do you dip them in the frosty or no?

buddhabc10 karma

I haven't, but I do dip french fries into my frosty.

thrownawayzs24 karma

The proof photos don't load.

buddhabc2 karma

thrownawayzs3 karma

interestingly, the original pictures are now loading (didnt work on mobile), and the one you just posted is dead. lol

buddhabc2 karma

Really? It's working for me on several devices. Did you try alternate devices? Edit: typing errors.

blueSky_Runner20 karma


Thanks for doing the AMA. I'm a medical doctor so thanks for sharing. I've personally never come across pectus excavatum it's one of those things I've read about but haven't see. A couple questions:

1) Do you have any more surgeries planned for the future?

2) What are some of the main restrictions you have because of the condition (activity wise)?

3) Cheeky question: Do you ever get asked to come and help out as a patient actor for OSCE stations for medical students or doctors?

buddhabc18 karma

1) Yes. Actually, I'm in the process of being tested for Marfan Syndrome. I met with my primary today, and I'm being referred to Cardio.

2) No physical limitations, but that may change after I have my next meeting. I do have asthma as well.

3) I have never been asked to do that. Also, check out the link above. That is my actual surgery. A case study was done on me, and those photos are of me.

CONaderCHASER8 karma

I too have pectus excavatum and Marfan Syndrome (26 y/o M who has had a double valve replacement). Feel free to PM if you need someone to talk to.

buddhabc7 karma

Thank you. It's nice not to be a lone

Manveroo2 karma

If it turns out to be a Marfan Syndrome, there is quite a community out there. Don't hesitate to contact them. I myself have it (32/m) and the pictures of your your chest could easily be mistaken for mine...

buddhabc1 karma

Maybe we are related... haha.

But no, seriously, it's nice not to be alone.

When were you first diagnosed with Marfan? I can not believe how long it has taken for me. I fit all the symptoms, yet my wife was the only one to notice. I lived at the Colorado children's hospital for almost a year.

Siretruck18 karma

I just had this surgery last fall! Now you've got me spooked.. do they know what caused your chest to go back to the way it was? Or what caused the surgery not to work?

buddhabc5 karma

They are currently investigating. Most like has to do with the Marfan syndrome.

Coffeeworld3 karma

I had this surgery done 16 years ago. No reversion has taken place. Unlike OP, I do not have Marfan's.

buddhabc2 karma

I'm really glad it worked for you. Was it a huge improvement? How long has it been?

thebigmack2 karma

Me too! I had mine in January but it wasn't a complete correction :S. The bottom half is still sunken from my sternum not being long enough to support a full correction. Now I'm worried the odds are stacked against me.

buddhabc2 karma

That completely sucks. What have they recommended?

thebigmack2 karma

Not much unfortunately. My surgeon did what he could and knew that my chest would regress if they attempted a full fix, so they stuck with the goal to relieve the pressure on my heart. He was fantastic and well practiced in the technique. I think it's the best it could be, and as far as I can tell an improvement for my health (finally getting around to having that looked into - fingers crossed). The hard part is accepting it, as I was invested in the full cosmetic fix too. It hurts to hear of someone else having trouble with this stuff. If I could give any helpful perspective, is that this doesn't have to effect how we feel about ourselves and we're stronger for going through the process. I'm hoping the best for ya!

buddhabc1 karma

I agree about the perspective on ourselves. Hopefully it'll be better the next time around.

cantRYAN7 karma

Thanks for doing an AMA and sharing your story. What kinds of things can cause a two year olds chest to collapse?

buddhabc21 karma

My chest collapsed during an extreme asthma attack. During which, my right lung collapsed as well.

I thank god everyday for my mom. She had her hands full with me, and not mention was a single mother. I wouldn't be here today without her.

xxf1sh3rxx7 karma

What was the worst/least enjoyable part of your time in the hospital/during surgery?

buddhabc13 karma

The prep leading up to surgery, the catheter and the allergic reaction to the iodine cleanse.

PantySniffers5 karma

:'( That sucks. Will it be better this time around?

buddhabc3 karma

Lol, I can only hope

ItMeAedri5 karma

I have a pectus excavatum as well, though not as severe that it's pushing against my heart.

What were the biggest problems you were facing with this condition?

buddhabc1 karma

The biggest issue I faced was that it would have crushed my heart at 18, unless I had the surgery. The initial idea was that the doctors would cut the ribs and flip them. Luckily (or not so, since it failed), the bar was the option they chose.

ItMeAedri2 karma

Were you also physically have trouble with it?

buddhabc1 karma

Standing up straight, and laying flat

Pingly5 karma

Wow. I'm 51 and have had it as far back as I can remember. Mine seems similarly deep but each doctor I've seen (for a variety of unrelated issues over the past years) has just written it off as a curiosity. I've always wondered how everything could fit in there with such a deep well.

If I place a ruler on my nipples (I'm sure there are plenty of jokes to throw in here) I get about two inches deep from the ruler to my chest.

But each time a Doctor notices they just say "Having trouble breathing?" "No." "You're good!"

The best of luck to you!

buddhabc3 karma

I would ask to be referred to a cardiologist. Yours may not be deep enough? Mine was almost 5 inches deep.

timshundo5 karma

Hey I also had surgery when I was 14 (I'm 27 now) because it was pushing down on my lungs. Couldn't run 1/4 a mile without wanting to die. I went to UCLA and had the ravich procedure done (I have a big upside-down Y-shaped scare on my chest). The cartilage never healed right, my chest still looks like crap, I get weird phantom pains/sounds/cracks from my sternum area every day and I feel like I forgot how to breathe correctly. Something in there just doesn't feel right and it feels like a matter of days before I twist my body in a weird way and it all collapses in on itself.

Trying to explain this to anyone goes nowhere and I'm not sure what to do. I've seen advancements in 3D printing take off and someone in China now has a 3D printed titanium chest/sternum so I'm kinda just waiting until I can walk into the hospital and get a brand new 3D printed rib cage. Just swap the whole thing out yall! Lol

Have you looked into following up and doing another reparative surgery and what that wouldn't entail?

buddhabc2 karma

I'm currently looking into it right now. Having a titanium sternum sounds pretty cool though. I always thought that having the ribs flipped sounded horrific.

BeingofUniverse5 karma

Do you know of anyone in your family that also has pectus excavatum?

buddhabc5 karma

I believe my father may have, but he died before I could meet him.

BeingofUniverse2 karma

May have? So he could have had it, but if he did, it went undiagnosed?

buddhabc6 karma

I don't know, and I have no way of finding out.

turbogoon4 karma

Have you ever put any dips in your pectus excavatum to easily dip your chips while laying down? Additionally, have you ever used it for food play in the bedroom with a partner?

buddhabc4 karma

When I was about 13-15 I used to eat cereal out of it.

ickyickyickyicky3 karma

I thought PE was genetic. Please explain how your chest collapsed during an asthma attack. How did that episode change your bone structure?

buddhabc2 karma

Marfan is a genetic condition, that weakens the connective tissue. During an asthma episode, my chest collapsed from the pressure, which in turn also cause my lung to collapse.

Rbv3zina3 karma

Is it painful, at all?

buddhabc1 karma

It's only painful when I'm having an asthma attack.

Upvotes_poo_comments2 karma

Do you have any difficulty breathing, or any issues with breathing?

InHelixWeGust5 karma

Not OP but I got my bar taken out before my senior season of college athletics and I became twice the athlete I ever was, you feel like you can breath with a third lung

Coffeeworld3 karma

Also not OP. I had my bar out summer before high school. My athleticism and breathing did not see any benefits as a result of nuss.

InHelixWeGust2 karma

Probably harder to notice at that age. I played 4 years of varsity high school, had the surgery, and didn't reap the benefits until my last year of college. 18-21 already carries a ton of added athleticism for boys so that might have contributed. I just didn't notice until the bar was out

buddhabc1 karma

Did/ do you have asthma?

buddhabc1 karma

At first my breathing did get better, but it's slowly reverting back.

idiotsandwich20001 karma

May I ask how deep your pectus was?

buddhabc1 karma

At the deepest almost 6 inches

buddhabc1 karma

At first my breathing did get better, but it's slowly reverting back.

buddhabc2 karma

Yes, asthma, and when I have an attack, my chest will sink in even further. It's like a black hole and everything around it sinks in, which causes my collarbone to protrude.

buddhabc2 karma

Yes, asthma, and when I have an attack, my chest will sink in even further. It's like a black hole and everything around it sinks in, which causes my collarbone to protrude.

PEthrowaway112 karma

Hi! I had the nuss bar procedure when I was 10, two years after I had the bar taken out and two years on again my chest reverted back with the bonus of flared ribs.

Other than my parents none of my mates are aware of this. It does make me feel pretty self conscious and feel it will affect my ability to get a girlfreind. Guess I'm just looking for some advice?

buddhabc1 karma

Well, the only thing that will affect your ability to get a girlfriend is you. As long as you have self confidence in yourself that's all that matters. As far as myself, I just made outlandish stories to liven it up. For example I would say the hole in my chest was from one of my friends punching me or something along those lines. But as long as you find the confidence don't let anything get to down. Also, you don't have to talk about it. You can be vulnerable with someone that you like and tell them that it's a sore subject for you and use that as a way to bind with someone.

As far as mates go, either tell them or don't. That decision will be whether they're the king of friends that will always be around or people you're just acquainted with.

InHelixWeGust2 karma

I had the same procedure when I was 18, bar got taken out after 3 years. Would've been in longer but the wires and screws began coming loose as I was playing a college sport with it in. Were you able to be active with the bar in?

buddhabc1 karma

For the first month, I could not lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. After, I was able to resume normal activity.

How does your chest look? Did it work for you?

InHelixWeGust2 karma

Asymmetrical more so than concave but not bad at all. My pectus was almost entirely on one side, overall totally pleased though. Took me much longer than a month to get back into things though

buddhabc1 karma

That's really great, that it worked for you :)

Maybe I'll be more successful with my 2nd surgery.

thegforce5222 karma

How was your recovery from the nuss bar operation? I myself had pectus excavatum and about 3 years ago i had a bar placed. They told me that in about a month most people can lead their normal lives again, for me it took like half a year so i was wondering how it was for you.

My bar got removed a month ago, and the result is pretty nice.

buddhabc2 karma

When I had the bar put in the recovery went well. After removal I had an allergic reaction to the iodine cleanse and broke out in hives.

DetestableCreature1 karma

How long did it take for it to revert? I just had my bar removed around 18 months ago and am worried about reversion (though my surgeon assured me it won't happen).

buddhabc1 karma

2 years after the bar was taken out. It's been slow reverting over the past 10 years.

DetestableCreature2 karma

Interesting, and not very comforting.

Thanks for the answer.

buddhabc1 karma

If it helps, mine is most likely linked to Marfan syndrome

Badlydressedcake1 karma

How do sexual partners react to seeing it for the first time?

buddhabc1 karma

Never bothered my wife.

Croatian_Hitman1 karma

I have pectus carinatum, though to a smaller degree. Did you have spinal problems like scoliosis as well? As did I.

buddhabc1 karma

My spine does curve, but I haven't been diagnosed with scoliosis as of yet.

NYLaw1 karma

I had a friend in high school who has the same condition. I always wondered, is it just a self confidence thing that led you to get surgery, or did it cause problems for you?

buddhabc3 karma

It started to crush my heart

todayIact1 karma

Do you sit upright?

buddhabc1 karma

To the best of my ability.

thebigmack1 karma

Hey OP, so sorry to hear this. I'm close to your age and had the surgery in January. Do you know what your haller index was before and after? Mine was 5.9 and seemingly had heart trouble from it, which will be confirmed or not soon :S

buddhabc1 karma

I honestly don't remember my haller index, but I'm getting my old files released to my current doctor. When I get them I'll post back the conclusion.

SirGoose34321 karma

Damn op, I'm really sorry to hear that your surgery failed. I have pectus excavatum too, I'm 20, and had my bar removed last year. So far so good for me... When did you notice that the surgery had started to fail? Was it apparent right after removal?

buddhabc1 karma

It took about 2 years before the PE came back. So, it wasn't noticeable right away.

CodyMoto1 karma

My ex girlfriend had pectus. As a woman, obviously, it took a pretty weighty toll on her self-worship. We did our research on treatments, options (she did the majority of it), and decided not to go with the NUSS procedure. If I recall correctly, her pectus was too severe for it anyway. I can't remember what the procedure was called that they used, but it was intensive.

My questions to you: What would you do differently if you went back in time? If it weren't an immediate health issue, would you go still opt for the surgery?


buddhabc1 karma

If I went back in time I would let doctor's know what I have. If it wasn't a health issue, then I wouldn't have done the surgery.