I am a 17 year old male who just received surgery for Pectus Excavatum (an abnormal dent in the chest). I have 3 more days in the hospital, so Ask Me Anything!
Hello everyone! I’m Ethan, and my goal for this post is to bring awareness to Pectus Excavatum. Many people have it (it affects about every 1 of every 300-500 births) but are unaware that they have it and that it can have harmful effects and is relatively easy and safe to treat. I’ll describe it for those who are unaware of what it is, just skip down a couple paragraphs if you’d like.
I’ll be in the hospital for 3 more days including today, so I’ll have plenty of time to answer any and all questions you may have for a 17 year old with Pectus Excavatum! They don’t all have to be about my condition. Feel free to ask me anything!!! I’d especially love to talk about:
Running (I run cross country and track for my high school, I’m hoping this surgery will increase my VO2 Max and help me become a better runner. I’m so close to breaking 5 in the mile, desperately hoping this will get me there)
College basketball tournament (still mad about the UCF game)
Music (I enjoy hip hop/rap music TA13OO AOTY )
Golf, especially Tiger Woods’ comeback [I missed his match with Rory yesterday bc of my surgery :( ]
Trying to stay positive, persevere, and keep a healthy body image when it would be easy to sulk and give up
Now I’ll talk a bit about Pectus Excavatum and my personal experience.
It’s not imperative that you read all of it if you don’t want to (I know it’s long), but my goal with all of this is to help at least one person with Pectus Excavatum who needs it.
My DMs are open to anyone who anyone who wants to discuss this in private. I know I’m only 17 so I’m not extremely wise yet, but I know this is something I can hopefully make a difference with. Thank you!!! :)
Pectus Excavatum is a relatively common “birth defect” occurring in every 1 in 300-500 people. It occurs when one has a sunken chest caused by a deformity in one’s sternum/chest wall. It is a condition one has since birth, but it gets worse once one hits their growth spurt, during which the Pectus Excavatum grows deeper. The severity of the condition varies from case to case. In the more extreme cases, the dent can push on one’s heart and lungs, causing issues for the person (especially as they grow old and their heart and lungs grow weaker). Pectus Excavatum can also cause back issues and posture issues for some. Many people also seek out surgery for cosmetic reasons.
The look of one’s Pectus Excavatum can be reduced through different physical exercises, which can take a long time and much effort. The main method of surgical treatment is the Nuss procedure. During this procedure, two incisions are made on both sides of the chest, near the ribs. From there, curved metal bars are inserted into the chest to raise the chest wall and create room for the heart and lungs to function properly. Anywhere from 1 to 3 bars can be inserted depending on the height of the person.
OK, now for my personal experience. I first noticed something was wrong during my freshman year of high school. I always knew I had a small dent in my chest, but I just assumed it was insignificant and chalked it up to me being skinny and having small pecs. However, during my Physical Education class, I started to see my shirtless classmates in the locker room, and I realized that no one else’s chest looked like mine did. I hit my first big growth spurt between my freshman and sophomore years, which only caused my chest hole to grow deeper. This is when some of my classmates started to point it out to me. [I have some funny stories about this if you’d like to hear :)] I still just assumed it was a byproduct of being tall and skinny (I was 6”1’ and 130 lbs. at the time). I searched “chest dent” on Google, and that was the first time I discovered what Pectus Excavatum was and realized something may have been wrong.
About 6 months later, during a yearly physical with my doctor, he noticed my chest and asked me about it. Eventually, this led to him contacting the Chest Wall Center at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. After some breathing tests and an MRI, they determined I needed surgery. They found that my chest dent was not symmetrical and was mainly on the side close to my heart, causing some pressure on my heart, lungs, and liver.
Yesterday afternoon I went through the surgery and now I’m recovering. My chest is very tight at the moment and it is hard to take deep breaths. Once my body gets used to the bars I will be very much better off, but I need to get adjusted first. I’m on a lot of medicine at the moment (through an IV) and I have to undergo a lot of breathing exercises and some light physical therapy before I can head home in a few days. I’ll be out of school for 2-3 weeks as well because my range of motion will be severely limited and I will not be able to use my arms for anything.
If you have any questions about Pectus Excavatum, what the surgery is like, what I went through the day of surgery, what I’m doing now to recover, having and removing a catheter, or any other questions, I’d be glad to answer!! Thank you :)
Edit: Getting a massage (yes, a massage 😍), I’ll answer more questions in a bit. Thank you everyone for the questions!!!
Edit 2: WOW! Thank you for all the messages and the gold! Don’t worry, I’m gonna get to everyone’s questions eventually. Thank you to everyone who has reached out, I really did not expect this much support! Also I’m glad to help anyone who wants to talk or needs advice. Thank you everyone ❤️
Edit 3: Wow, 10k upvotes. Never imagined this would gain this much traction, I’m glad to bring attention to Pectus Excavatum. I’m getting my epidural out tomorrow so I wouldn’t expect too many answers, but I will get to EVERY SINGLE QUESTION AND DM. I mean it. I’m committed to help, so don’t be afraid to leave a comment or DM; I’ll get to all of them. Thank you everyone!! ❤️
Edit 4: I will eventually get to all my posts and DMs. Hospital life is very busy, and I have a lot to answer! I’m headed home in the near future so don’t worry. I’ll get to them all, whether it’s a day late or a week late. Thanks everyone.
If you’re seeing this and you’re worried about your comment being buried, don’t be! I check everything in my inbox. I’m glad to help ❤️