Women with pectus excavatum

The lack of information, photos, and studies for women with pectus excavatum can be frustrating. This article is an ongoing resource for women to share photos of their PE, and a place to learn about new studies specifically tailored to women.

Updated on
August 24, 2021
Insight
Young women showing her pectus excavatum chest condition depth.

What is pectus excavatum?

Pectus excavatum (or funnel chest) is a condition where the chest wall is slightly caved in at birth, and gradually gets worse with age up until puberty.

How many women have pectus excavatum?

There is quite the gender divide between men and women with pectus excavatum. Studies show that women develop pectus excavatum about five times less frequently than men, and when surgery is recommended by a doctor, they often recommend that cosmetic breast surgery be done in conjunction with the repair to create a more uniform appearance.

Fixing sunken chest in women

Just like for men, there are multiple ways to address women wanting to improve the look of their pectus excavatum. The first option is always going to be getting corrective surgery, whether it's the Nuss or Ravitch procedure. These are typically done on patients with a certain Haller index (or severity) of a certain amount, so surgery is not often available to everyone. The second, non-surgical option is improve the look of the chest through corrective posture, vacuum bell treatment, and some fitness.

Vacuum bell treatment for women

We've talked to many women with pectus excavatum, and feel the frustration they have when dealing with their bodies. Not only do they have less resources than men (naturally, since it's much more common in men), medical studies often skew towards men, and vacuum bell fittings can often be difficult depending on breast shape and size.

Thankfully, non-surgical options to improve pectus are still available, but will often come down to getting a proper fitting vacuum bell designed specially for women. If you do decide to try the non-surgical option, we put together an article on how to use a vacuum bell to help you get the best results.

Working out to reduce pectus excavatum

There is a variety of things about pectus excavatum that can make it look worse than others, some that are out of our control, but others that we can improve. The depth of your pectus is something that is very difficult to fix without surgery or vacuum bell usage, but things like posture and musculature can make a massive difference. People with PE often slouch forward, but instead of hiding the condition, it often makes it worse. By sticking to a fitness program, not only will your self-confidence improve, your increased strength (especially on the back) will help naturally pull your shoulders back, improving your posture in the process.

After about 6 months at the gym, I've had multiple people tell me I actually looked taller, but in reality, the only thing that I was focusing on was my posture. If you're interested, I've put together a home workout guide focusing on pectus excavatum.

Another benefit of sticking to a healthier lifestyle is the reduction of the very common pot belly that comes with people with pectus excavatum. Often PE comes with a case of flared ribs, which makes our stomach stick out a bit more than the average person.

Wearing bikinis with pectus excavatum

One of the biggest complaints from women is how hard it can be to find proper fitting bikinis. Since the middle of the chest is dented slightly, wearing bikinis will leave the middle section floating above the chest. From our experience, we've found the following options the best when it comes to hiding your chest while wearing a bikini.

High neck bikini tops

Woman wearing a high neck bikini top

You can often find some triangle tops that tie around the back and neck. These are great because they cover a decent amount of area, and you can adjust it to fit your body exactly.

Crop tops

woman wearing a black crop top

If you still want to cover the middle of your chest, but don't want a high neck design, a simple crop top will do the trick.

Bandeau top

woman wearing a multi colored bandeau top

Last but not least, the classic bandeau top is another great option. It shows the most skin out of the 3, but still covers up the center of your chest (plus, less tan lines!)

Photos of women with pectus excavatum

Since there aren't many resources on women with pectus excavatum, we've reached out to the community for those that were willing to share their photos in order to provide some pictures ranging in severity. All of these women granted us permission to use the photos, and if you'd like to submit yours so that we can add it to this article, feel free to email us (you can stay anonymous if you'd like).

We've also included some women in the celebrities with pectus excavatum list.

woman showing before and after of her nuss surgery

After the Nuss procedure. 22 years old, Haller index of 5.9. Surgery performed by Dr. DiFiore in the Cleveland clinic.

woman showing her pectus excavatum

22 years old, Haller index of 5.

woman showing her pectus excavatum

27 years old, Haller index of 8.1, corrected with the Nuss procedure.

woman showing her pectus excavatum

21 years old, Haller index of 6.4

woman showing her pectus excavatum

32 years old, Haller index of 4.5. Breast implants previously removed.

woman showing her pectus excavatum

24 years old, Haller index of 5

woman showing her pectus excavatum

Haller index of 3.8

Submit your photos

If you have some photos you'd like to share, feel free to contact us, and we can add them to this article.

Get notified of new resources, news, and information on how to improve your pectus excavatum

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.