Surgery itself is the easy part. There is basically nothing you need to do. You arrive at the hospital, check in, take some tests, become unconscious, and allow your surgeon to make incisions on both sides of your chest, implant the Nuss bars into your thoracic cavity, and close you up. Your part in the procedure is basically a passive one – that is, until the moment you wake up from the anaesthetic. It is only then, my friends, that your journey begins. This is where the rubber meets the road. And look out if you’re not prepared because you could be in for a very bumpy and unpleasant ride.


The length of hospital stay after the Nuss Procedure will vary from person to person. Generally, however, it appears that patients in the United States typically remain in hospital for 5 to 7 days. This is a terribly short period of time. There is absolutely no way I would have been able to leave the hospital after such a short period. I was still in the Intermediate Care Unit on the fifth day following my surgery. At Helios Klinikum Berlin-Buch, the philosophy is somewhat different. Patients stay in hospital for as much time as is required. A typical stay is between 10 to 14 days.

With older patients, or those with more severe Pectus, and whose pain is expected to be greater, even longer hospital stays are normal. I was in Helios for a total of 18 days. The doctors want to ensure that you completely fine to travel. Many patients come to Germany from abroad for the operation so it makes sense to keep them there until they really are fine to leave. Those who experience complications, such as infection, will also normally stay longer to ensure they are all clear. To my knowledge, the record for the longest stay at Helios is 46 days. This record is maintained by my good friend Randy, another adult Nuss patient that I have come to know from the pectusinfo website. Randy had some serious complications which caused him to stay for such a long period of time.


I was told that I would most likely be able to return to office work after 3 to 4 weeks following surgery. This was quite accurate. I ended up returning to work 5 weeks after surgery and for the first few weeks back I was lucky enough to be able to do half days. I think each person will be different but for an office worker I think 3 to 4 weeks is quite a standard time frame. Manual labour is a different matter altogether. Adult patients who earn their living as carpenters or builders, for example, would possibly not be able to return to full work mobility for several months following surgery. This is certainly a matter to be taken into account when making a decision about whether surgery is right for you.


For about 6 to 8 weeks there should be no running or strenuous physical activity, and lifting is normally limited to ten pounds or less. Also, it is generally accepted to not play sports where impact to the chest is likely, such as hockey or boxing.

At first, day-to-day activities are difficult to perform. Getting dressed, showering, putting on your shoes and socks, getting in and out of bed, as well as many other daily tasks that we all take for granted, can be very difficult. Give yourself time. Slowly but surely, as you recover, you will notice that it becomes easier to do things. Even at 6 weeks post-surgery I still find many of these daily tasks quite difficult, especially getting in and out of bed. It is literally a real pain!


Recovery has been very tough for me. The pain has been quite constant despite taking morphine. I am constantly looking for ways to ease the pain and speed my recovery. Here is a list of things that I have found helpful during the recovery period. try them and see if they work for you, too.

Breathing Exercises

I have found breathing exercising to be absolutely crucial to my recovery. I am very lazy with The Coach incentive spirometer. I prefer to use my own deep breathing techniques. I take a very deep breath in through my nose for a count of 8, hold the breath for a count of 12, and the release the breath through the mouth for another count of 8. I do this for five minutes several times per day. I should probably do it more than this. Breathing exercises ensure that full lung volume is attained in the reconfigured chest cavity. The lungs and heart, which previously were compressed by the deformity are now are expected to accommodate this increased space. The patient must breathe deeper to force expansion of the lungs to the chest wall. Compliance with these exercises not only increases oxygen reserves but also helps keep the chest cavity expanded outward. This ensures greater success after the bar is removed. Many doctors say that these breathing exercises must be performed once an hour while awake after discharge and continued during the entire time the bar is in place. Most patients, on the other hand, are lazy. It’s difficult to always remember to do your breathing exercises but you should try to do them as much as you possibly can.

Stretching and Yoga

My whole body ached after surgery. It still does. Particularly, I get aches in my back, my shoulders, and across my chest. I have found that stretching really helps alleviate many of these aches and pains. I am also told that yoga is very beneficial. I decided to learn a few very basic stretching exercises for the back and basic stretching exercises for the shoulders. For the back stretches, you may want to lay on your bed rather than on the floor. I do these stretching exercises in the morning when I wake up and in the evening before bed. I always feel a great deal better after doing these exercises. Try them and see if they work for you.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise helps you maintain fitness levels, are good for your heart, and help you expand your lungs. All of these things are very good for someone recovering from the Nuss Procedure. You may not be able to run for a couple of months afer surgery so please make sure to take it slowly. If you are in a gym setting, a fast walk on an incline would be fine. if you are outdoors, even better. There is nothing like fresh air and a good brisk walk. make it a regular part of your recovery program.

Maintaining Correct Posture

Many people with Pectus have poor posture. It is important after surgery to try to maintain correct posture at all times. Doing so will help reshape your chest and will help you to obtain the best results possible from your correction. When I was in Helios, Professor Schaarschmidt pulled me up several times for poor posture. Since then I have been trying to walk shoulders back, chest out as much as I can. I do believe that it helps with the results a great deal.

Warm Baths and Hot Compress

I have found a warm bath before bed to be very relaxing. It also helps soothe sore and aching muscles, whether in your chest or your back. If you do not have a bath tub, then a warm shower would also be useful. I also highly recommend a hot compress or hot water bottle. Take it to bed with you and pop it on your chest. Just don’t make it too hot or you are likely to scald yourself. I have found my hot water bottle to be extremely soothing. Very highly recommended!


Research shows that Glutamine aids in the healing process and boosts the immune system. I take 5mg of glutamine power two times daily, usually with my protein shake. I also take 120mg CQ-10, 1,000mg vitamin C, one multi-B vitamin, some milk thistle for the liver, and a magnesium tablet. This little supplement combo works very well for me and I make sure that I take it daily for maximum benefit. I have noticed that I am lacking in energy on days that I miss my vitamin cocktail, but this has only happened once or twice so far.

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is important at all times, especially when recovery from a major surgery such as the Nuss Procedure. I did quite a bit of research following surgery and found that a diet low in carbohydrates was best for reducing inflammation in the body. As such, I try to stick to a simple diet of lean meat and fish, vegetables, and fruits. I have tried (sometimes with varying degrees of success) to eliminate all refined sugars from my diet. I have also eliminated bread and anything containing flour, such as pasta. I have fallen off the wagon a couple of times but generally I believe that following a balanced, healthy diet is the right thing to do for anyone, whether you are recovering from surgery or not.

Pain Management

This is a controversial topic. Many people, including those who have been through the Nuss Procedure, advocate getting off all opiate-based medications as soon as possible following surgery. The grin and bear the pain approach. I completely disagree with this approach, as does my pain specialist. You need to give your body time to heal. Being in constant pain does not help you do that. In fact, pain puts great stress on your body and it also lowers your immune response. I am a firm advocate of staying on pain medications for as long as necessary, as long as you are being properly supervised. Why put yourself through unnecessary pain?

Advocates of the grin and bear it approach say that pain medications are for the weak or that the longer you stay on pain medications the harder it will be to get off them. I disagree completely. I am planning to stay on pain medications for as long as I need to. My pain specialist agrees with this approach. When the pain decreases, I will decrease the dosages of medication until such time as I am medication free. I am looking forward to the time when I am off all medications but I’m not in any hurry. Why would I be?

Positive Attitude

As I have discovered, this is the number one recovery tool, and one which I have failed to employ as much as I should have. The operation can be brutal both physically and emotionally. It is so easy, in my opinion, to spiral out of control into a quagmire of negativity. The pain, dissatisfaction with results, immobility, impatience, and the medications – all of these can add up and make you feel very negative. Try to surround yourself with positive, strong people. I was lucky to have a very good support group from all of my friends at the pectusinfo forum. Without their constant support and encouragement, and that of my partner, I don’t know how I would have coped with the stress of the operation and the recovery.

Think positive thoughts as much as you can. Things can and will get better, even if they look terrible from where you are standing. Trust me. I’ve been there and I know this is the truth. It just takes time and patience and an attitude of strength and positivity. You’ve struggled with the Demon for your entire life and now it’s your turn to be the winner.

58 Responses to “Recovery”

  1. 1 Nick Presson
    September 11, 2010 at 8:00 PM


    I got Nussed on the 25th of Aug. I am coming up on week 3 and I still have a very hard time breathing. Is this normal?

  2. 2 Nick Presson
    September 13, 2010 at 2:57 AM


    My son is Nic and is in need of knowing if he is on the right track for recovery. He has a tough time breathing and is still in a lot of pain and energy is gone. He also feels like he made a hugh mistake because of the way he feels and looks with all the scars now. Can you repond with your post surgery recovery. He also had to have his lungs scraped and a chest tube put in on week two.

  3. 3 brittany
    March 7, 2011 at 4:58 AM

    to above comment^

    my sister had the nuss procedure and rubbed vitamin e oil on it everyday for a few months and they have almost completely gone away. You can still see them, but it isn’t a big deal at all. Her recovery was very tough, she could barely move for a month and was in extreme pain for a long time. Right now she is two years post surgery and feels better than ever and can breathe well and exercise normally.

  4. 4 reece
    September 4, 2011 at 8:12 AM

    im 15 and really want to have this done – is this the right age to have this procedure?

  5. 5 Anonymous
    November 18, 2011 at 6:23 AM

    My son is 13yrs old and has moderate/severe PE. My insurance will cover the surgery but, when to have it done seems to be the dilemma. He is currently in the 7th grade and we are considering having the Nuss procedure done this summer before his 14th birthday. The problem is that my son is a football player and has dreams of playing high school football. If we have the surgery done this summer he is definitely taking this season off and wouldn’t play until possibly his freshman year (approximately one year after his surgery). Is this possible? How safe is it to play full contact football with a bar in his chest? Is he going to be able to do all the exercises and tackling etc.. His doctor says that he can begin working out 6-8 weeks after the surgery and play full contact sports after 4 months. Can we get his body ready in time to play high school football and is it even worth the risk? Should we wait until after HS and what about his self-image and self-esteem. I would appreciate any feedback. Thanks

  6. 6 Declan
    February 7, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    To above ^

    I’m currently at the 4 week mark post surgery. I’m 16 and i too had severe pectus which is why i had two bars implanted. The ideal age for the nuss procedure is from ages 15-17, when most growing has stopped but the bones are still fairly workable. In the study published by Dr. Nuss himself it stated that in this age range there were no failures (the only age bracket that had none). As for working out and full contact 6-8 weeks and 4 months are complete dreams. The normal waiting period for working out and muscle building is around 3-6 months while full contact is highly discourged while the bars are still in. My own surgeon (Dr. G Ford from Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia) who has done a number of these procedures has told me to avoid all semi-contact sports (which include soccer, volleyball, basketball etc.) for at least 12 months and not to attempt full contact sports (such as Rugby, Amercian Football, Hockey, etc) until the bars are removed. At this point in my recovery i couldn’t even imagine going to play any type of sport. I’ve been walking everyday however running is still a long way off. The heaviest thing i’ve lifted in the past 4 weeks has been a bowl that weighed around 10 pounds or 5kg which hurt a fair bit. Usually the bars tend to stay in for 2-3 years with most surgeons now opting more for the 3 year option. The risk of surgery is fairly low but the pain of recovery is very high. It was unlike anything i could have imagined prior. My surgeon said the pain was equal to that of childbirth as i got my epidural out however it went on for a lot longer, with that scale of pain continuing for around 4-5 days. The pain subsides slowly and when i say slowly i mean very very slowly. I still have a decent amount of pain at the month mark but i plan on returning to school next week. The actual result is, of course, individual depending on who your surgeon is and how bad the pectus was to start of with. Because my pectus was so severe, i still have a very small indent because my surgeon wasn’t confident to push my sternum out any further out of fear of snapping it off. The scars aren’t big at all but the bars can be seen fairly prominantly under the arms for the duration of the time in. The rib flares associated with pectus excavatum are probably the most annoying thing after the operation. Apart from wearing a rib cage there isn’t much you can do about them. Some say good posture helps however i am quite sceptical of that. All in all i’d suggest not waiting until after highschool but wait until he’s 15 or so and until you can research this as much as possible. Talk to several surgeons if you can and also read this report by Dr. Nuss ( The pain and recovery are not to be taken lightly and anyone that has this has to be fully prepaired otherwise there is potential for depression. I hope this has helped you and your son and if you have anymore questions feel free to ask.

  7. 7 Michael G.
    June 11, 2012 at 1:01 AM

    Hi, I’m about a week into recovery, I’m taking ibu profan and oxycodone for pain. I often get nausea and feel like I will throw up but I only spit. It couses a lot of pain in my side and around the bars. I also have back pain now. My doctor said that I just need to be on my feet more to eleviate pressure from my back, didn’t know if there were any other ways. Thanks:)

  8. 8 Ketkanoke Kain
    July 24, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    My son (14) recently had two nuss bars implanted (june26th) My husband is pushing him physically a kind of forced rehabilitation in my opinion and I think he’s rushing him. But am accused of being overly protective. He has him riding a spin bike and pushing him to get his heart rate above 180. I think its too much too soon, and think he should work at building up to that target heart rate. Any opinions?

  9. July 24, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Your son should not be doing any strenuous activity for 6 to 8 weeks following surgery. You husband should not be pushing him like that. It’s ridiculous.

  10. 10 LINDA STARK
    July 27, 2012 at 8:17 AM

    My son had the Nuss surgery July 5, 2012. He goes for his post-op appt. tomorrow. He is 13 years old. He was not born with PE. At the on start on puberty is when I noticed his chest looked different. He had a Haller index of 2.8 About a year later we had him re-checked he was 3.8 He did not want an epidural so he only had a morphine pump. He did great with the surgery and was in the hospital for 6 days. We made sure he was up walking the next day and he used the breathing exerciser faithfully. When he came home he took 1 of the pain pills the first night and then motrin. He is doing wonderful and can not wait until the doctor clears him to play tennis. We are from Lindale,Texas. He had the surgery in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Darrell Hermann is his doctor. I also ordered him a medical I.D. necklace to wear.

  11. 11 Anonymous
    July 31, 2012 at 7:23 AM

    I just had this done and I was wondering if you had a lot of pain and tenderness in the breast? I’m female ago I was wondering if this was normal.

  12. 12 anonymous
    September 23, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    I am wondering if there are any adult patients here who have had this done and can comment on it (people 35 or over). I have had pectus all my life but am now wondering if I should consider surgery for it. If so please post info about your experience and pros/cons. I would also welcome info on where are locations here in the US that have experience with this operation on adults, especially in the eastern US. Thanks.

  13. September 23, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    Yes, me, the author of this website. I was 42 when I had the surgery three years ago.

  14. 14 JTL
    November 24, 2012 at 11:42 PM

    Hi all – I’m adult female @ 10 wk post surgery. In addition to chest pain, I am having recurring pleural effusions (fluid on lungs). Get no straight answer from radiology as to why and will it stop. Anyone??

  15. 15 Shelli B.
    December 13, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    My 15 year old son is going in on Monday for his surgery.. I am pretty scared and nervous. Is there any advice you can give me to put me at ease. or what to expect after the surgery? He is very active.. his dream is to play soccer in college and professionally some day. So he is anxious about the surgery because it will make him a better player. He is on the Premier team and would like to run with out being breathless.

  16. 16 AlexxH
    December 15, 2012 at 8:17 AM

    I am actually 17 years old and might be having this done i was kinda curious about how soon i could get back to school i am sure someone would carry my books for me and such but how soon could i go and another question could you describe the pain to me? That is a huge fear and will i be able to shower my self?

  17. 17 Christi
    May 12, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Thanks for the post. It was the pep talk that i needed tonight. I am post op 4 weeks. I am 34 years old. Three bars. I left the hospital on day 4 with a Ropivicaine on-Q ball for pain management. Mayo Clinic Phoenix. I transitioned to just ibuprofen by end of week 2. I’m not sleeping well though and i imagine that’s one of my biggest problems. I just can’t get comfortable on my back and narcotics didn’t really help that. BTW I also have 5 kids at home which plays a factor in a lot of things. I also can’t take full deep breaths yet and my rib flaring is really irritating me. Right now it prevents me from bending over and touching my toes. You’re right though that every week gets a little better and I’ll keep reading and focusing on a better future.

  18. 18 Julie
    July 20, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    On the second day they wanted to start phisical therapy. But i said no. We started day 3. I hated it. I stayed for 5 days! They pretty much made me go home! I lived a while away from the hospital so the ride home was terrible and bumpy I was crying the whole way. I payed with my coach leaned back but I was in a lot of pain. I took a lot of pills but eventually I was able to sit up. My parents made me walk around and sit up and stand. Honestly I was expecting the worst… And it was worse than that. But I’m so glad I got it! My pectus used to hurt me a lot. I wasn’t very athletic. I remember this one girl from 7th grade would make fun of me in the locker room because of it.

  19. 19 Sam Allen
    July 25, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Im currently 1 Year 11 months post-op, and am about to have the nuss bar removed and i was just wondering what kind of pain/recovery time to expect?… is it anything like the pain from the original Stratos procedure? im hoping to leave the hospital on the same day. also will i be able to go back to full weight training any time soon after the removal as its one of the main reasons i want the bars removed?

    my recovery from the original op was pretty swift, i was walking on the second day and able to leave on the fourth thanks to a high pain tolerance, and the scars have healed up very nicely to a point where i dont even think about them. The operation is definitely something i would recommend for someone who isnt sure about it.

    though i do worry about after the bar is removed as i was not informed by the hospital about any breathing exercises..

  20. July 25, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    1 year and 11 months is a bit too soon if you ask me. 3 years would be better – just to be on the safe side.

  21. 21 Josh
    September 25, 2013 at 4:47 AM

    I had the ravitch procedure around 4 years ago and since then my ‘hole’ has returned and I’m still getting sharp stabbing pains in the left side of my chest, has anyone else had this? Any ideas?

  22. 22 Kayla
    November 6, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Hello! I am a 23 year old female with a 15month old daughter, and I am considering having the surgery done… But my Dr. said I won’t be able to even pick my daughter up for at least 3 months. Is that an accurate estimation? Has anyone with little kids had this surgery?

    My Dr. said 3-4 in the hospital post-op, 2 weeks before I can go back to work (teaching), and 3 months to pick up my little girl. But after reading this blog about hospital stays being 10-14 days, etc. it doesn’t sound like it would be wise for me to do this surgery – which is a bummer because I would really like to live a normal life.

    Thoughts and opinions anyone? Thanks in advance.

  23. 23 Christine
    December 2, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    Hi my son had the Nuss procedure 7 days ago, he went home on day 5. Everything looked great , but last night when he got up and i saw him from the back i noticed i could see the bar on each side. Most on the right side, and his pec on that side has a indent line under it , more than the other side. I guess thats the best i could explain that. I had been away at work for 12 hours and ask if anything different had happend . The only thing he had did, was start standing straight with his shoulders back. Before that he had been sitting and standing slouched over. Im trying to find out if it normal to see and feel the bars on each side. Thanks

  24. 24 Ard
    December 3, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    Hi Pectus Dude,

    I had my Nuss Procedure 2 weeks ago, only one bar was put in and de result is pretty good.
    My recovery is going wery well, i’m 45 and thougt it would be worse!.
    The letter from the hospital with al the “do’s and Dont’s” during recovery says, i have to wait for 3 Month before i can starting to work out. When dit you start your training?.
    When i look at the 6 month post surgery picture your looks already very good, dit you dit this in only 3 month?

  25. 25 Sonja
    December 29, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    I am just over 4 years post op with the Ravitch Procedure. I had a great team of both adult and pediatric doctors and nurses, but I had a extensive recovery due to an infection in the incision. Since my surgery, I haven’t had much feeling in my chest with touch. I get sharp pains in my back and chest that literally take my breath away and leaves me in a lot of pain. When this happens, I take it easy, breath shallowly and push through. I do have a few noticeable scars but nothing clothes can’t hide. The surgery has helped me despite the the lack of feeling, the sharp pains and no foreseen date for removal. I would like to know if anyone else has any of these issues of which I briefly described and how they deal with it.

  26. 26 Anonymous
    January 6, 2014 at 6:56 AM

    Hi im 16 and there are 3 months since ive had surgery but i still havent done anything like running jumping or lift wights and if i just go on my toes and down i feel the bar move shout i be worried? Or should i just run and jump and not think about it becurse i have been scared of doing these things

  27. 27 Ard
    February 23, 2014 at 7:45 PM

    Hi, i am now 3 month post surgery with one nuss bar and almost complete pain free.
    Only during workout i feel the bar when i’m running, this is still very uncomfort.
    I am 46 now and so far the recovery went very Well.

  28. February 23, 2014 at 8:06 PM

    That’s great. But one bar is baby stuff! Try two bars! 🙂

  29. 29 Gordon
    March 9, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    43 yr old male, about 1 month post op. I had the first operation on the 15th of Jan. but my bar flipped. I had the second surgery on the 31st with 2 bars. (I am 6′ 10″) My height and size of my chest caused major problems for my surgeon. I am still in a great deal of pain, at times it goes up to level 10. I notice that car rides and flour\sugrr tend to increase the pain for a while. I was hoping for more tips and tricks for faster recovery, but I really appreciate the OP’s tips.

  30. 30 Michelle
    March 14, 2014 at 6:35 AM

    I thought this is very helpful. My finance has had this procedure done once and has to do it again because it was not successful the first time. I will remember what to expect now.

  31. 31 Nikola
    June 25, 2014 at 6:51 AM

    I done my operation in January with a Nuss procedure.I had a very deep PE.Only one bar was planted and I was very happy with the results.I recovered quickly and spent seven days in the hospital.Although I felt I can exit the hospital after 5 days it was a standard procedure.The visual results were fantastic and I couldn’t be happier.But after a month I went to a control and the doctor said the bar moved.I was really scared because I didn’t want to go throw it all again.Four days later I underwent my second surgery.It was really painful.After this I was leaving in fear mostly because I was very careful the first time.On the first control after the reoperation everything was O.K. So three months later the bar moved again.But it can stay this way because it didn’t move by much.I don’t now what to do.Should I go for it again or what?!What I want to know is can the hole return and what to do in this moment.Also the right side(edge) of my back hearts badly.Is this normal?

  32. 32 Nikola
    June 25, 2014 at 6:52 AM

    Also I forgot to mention that I am 14 years old.

  33. 33 Anonymous
    July 24, 2014 at 5:25 AM

    How long after the surgery can i go back to boxing?

  34. 34 George Carranza
    July 24, 2014 at 5:26 AM

    How long after the nuss surgery can i go back to boxing?

  35. July 24, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    What kind of boxing? In the ring with an opponent? I would not do that.

  36. 36 Will
    July 28, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    Hello! I had my surgery on July 4th and I’m in my third week, I still have constant pain which is sometimes dulled by the meds the docs prescribed, however they are only for three weeks and I am concerned that even in week four or five I am going to need some medicinal relief.

    Furthermore, my doctor is unfortunately away until next month, which he didn’t mention even though he told me to come back in three weeks (this week) I called and the receptionist’s voice-mail said the office wouldn’t be picking up the messages patients left. How lovely, eh?

    Don’t get me wrong I’m not disgruntled I’m quite pleased with the result but I’m frustrated with the discomfort. This is coming from someone who has had many many surgeries and all manners of pain. Here’s the annoying part I now have a cold which is easing off but as with most colds the aching muscles and joints seem to be amplified since I’m still healing.

    I’m probably being super paranoid but it made sense to me that if a return to work could happen after 6 weeks that I would be at a point in my pain management where I would be on occasional use of meds and the pain wouldn’t be consistent. I tend to over-think and worry and I went online to see other people’s journeys (even before the surgery) I watched many youtube blogs and my experience in the hospital was the same or similar however at three weeks post-op, I seem to be in more pain than anyone else I looked up or read about. Furthermore now I’m reading several blogs that suggest the pain is consistent for several months even years, (If this is true, how does anyone live like this?!) that all being said you can understand my confusion about be able to return to work after 6 weeks.

    I suppose I just want a vote of confidence or something…that this will get better. Also, any tips on sleeping (please note I don’t own a recliner, my parents got rid of them years ago and now I’m missing them tons). I’ve done the propped up pillows I’ve even on at least two magical occasions slept on my back. For the most part I seem to sleep through pain if I’ve moved or something but waking up is quite the ordeal…getting out of bed is a 1,2,3 GO and hope I don’t swear kind of deal.

    On a more personal side note….

    In the beginning when I was considering this my parents were half supportive, my dad attempting to sympathize by recalling his struggle with bad acne as a teen. Which was sweet and I appreciated that but, it just wasn’t the same, though I let it go and it became a driving force for me to go ahead with it knowing he really tried to understand. My mom was just super fearful which makes sense all parents are and as they should be….thankfully she watched videos afterwards and one day said “I understand why you did it” which was the biggest most supportive thing she said so far in this experience. Now I suppose me having taken on this physical and super emotional challenge, has grown stale to them and they just seem to not care or at least they seem unconcerned, they don’t even ask if I’m feeling ok or not. I love them and I know they love me but…has anyone else felt a lack of support as the recovery period progressed?

    What I notice has helped with pain

    -Breathing exercises (though some of them do irritate pain areas)
    – Walking (seriously after a walk I feel so much looser)
    – Hot bath ( if only I could sleep in a heated tub every night.)
    – Heat pads or blankets and the opposite a nice cold ice pack

    I know this is a long-ass post but I wanted to make sure everything got in there in case a subsequent post went unanswered. Everyone deserves to be heard and replied to 🙂

  37. August 8, 2014 at 7:53 AM

    Hi! I had surgery on July 14th, so I am in my 4th week of recovery. In addition to the Nuss procedure, I had a mechanical valve put in to replace my aorta. Quite the procedure. I spent just over a week in the hospital.

    I am recovering pretty nicely, and feel like most of my aches and pains are from the Nuss procedure- not the heart surgery. I am 34 years old and have a 16 month old daughter. For me, the most difficult part of my recovery has been that I can’t really take care of my kid. I can’t lift her, I can’t get down on the ground to play with her. It’s awful for me, though she seems pretty entertained by her dad and my parents. I went from being a stay at home mom with a toddler just learning to walk to only seeing my daughter when someone else is around.

    The pain I feel from lifting anything much more than 5lbs lets me know that I really can’t hold my 28lb baby any time soon. So, my question– when can I expect to? at 2 months post-op? 3 months?

  38. 38 Dee
    September 1, 2014 at 5:32 AM

    Hi there thank you for your site. I’m 48 years old and just over 3 months post nuss but really struggle to find any info to my particular situation. I had breast implants about 9 years ago to mask my chest deformity but at that time I thought I was just born with one breast bigger than the other and it was at my first appointment with the plastic surgeon he informed me I had PE. So about 5 years later BAD heart palpitations and shortness of breath meant I needed the surgery. My surgeon was Mr Adrian Pick, and I’m in Melbourne, Australia. My journey has been tough. After thestre I was rushed to intensive care as blood pressure and heart rate were so low and wouldn’t rise and then my lungs collapsed. Got through all that and then at home my lungs filled with fluid and couldn’t breathe so back to hospital and got through that. I’ve been back at work for about 3 weeks now (own a fashion retail store) but the pain some days gets really bad. I gave up the OxyContin and endone and anti inflammatries after first 2 months and pain got very bad on my left side so specialist put me back on anti inflammatries. I’m still on them but I still have stinging kind of pain each side and the muscles in my back ache. I tried a physio for 2 sessions but that was no good. I walk briskly for 30 minutes every morning. I’m praying this pain will soon go as it really gets me down sometimes. There has been some very very dark days especially when I came off the meds. Would love to hear from anyone experiencing similar pain at this stage. Many thanks

  39. 39 Jg
    October 24, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    It seems like a bunch of mixed experiences in the comments section… I just went for a consultation today and I’m stressing out!
    Should I do this procedure or just live with PE.

    I’ve learned to be confident with my shirt off over the past few years (I’m 29 now). I guess I will do some tests on my lungs and 3Dimentional CT scan on my chest and play it by ear. If there is need then yea. If not. I can’t imagine not being able to go to a gym and relieve some stress by lifting heavy weights or running for that long. I’m sure if the surgery is successful it’ll be worth it in the long run. But, based on what I read on here it’s a 50/50 chance that the bars don’t move. Yikes. I’d rather work on becoming more confident with what I look like than go through all that pain!

  40. 40 Nicola Jeffreys
    November 21, 2014 at 3:58 AM

    I’m 3 months today post ravitch procedure and am 53 (female). I first noticed my PE when I was a child and wasn’t particularly bothered by it in that I learnt to just accept it and get on with my life. Over the last 10 years I developed AF and valve problems and also started to become more breathless than usual. I was tested for asthma prior to this which I don’t have so my GP thought the shape of my chest might be the cause of my problems. I was sent to see Mr Wells a well respected heart surgeon at Addenbrookes hospital here in the UK back in January. Initially I decided that I didn’t want to go through with such a major operation but when I found out that my heart was twisted and ‘squashed’ and my lungs were also ‘squashed’ by my chest wall I changed my mind and decided to go ahead. There was no certainty that my heart would untwist or my lungs expand but it was felt very likely that I would hopefully not develop any more heart problems and also a very good chance that I would benefit generally from it. Anyway, I had the operation in August. The post op has been incredibly painful but I am slowly improving and getting back more mobility.

    I thought by 3 months that I would feel a lot better than I do. I still can’t do much with my arms as it causes the surgical area to be very painful and inflammed, I don’t know if this is normal? I wonder if recovery is slower due to my age? I do a lot of walking everyday but apart from that really can’t do much of what I would normally do which I find frustrating. I have one bar in which moved after about 2 weeks causing a lot of pain but it seems to have settled now. I have a lot of pain on one side of my chest still around where the bar is.

    My PE is not totally gone but this is because it was so severe but I do look a lot more normal now which I like and I’m optomistic that with time I will get back to my old life and running etc.

    I’m probably not saying much that will help others than to share that I had this operation at the age of 53. I will try to post again in a couple of months to let you know how I’m going. I would probably say go ahead with this operation if you are severe as although it’s very painful it should prevent you from developing any further problems as you get older.

  41. 41 Anonymous
    November 23, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    I was also in my 50’s when I had the procedure (2012). Had a lot of post op problems. Couldn’t sleep on my side for 4 months and had plural effusions for 6 months! Kinda concerned about bar removal next year.

  42. 42 Dee
    November 24, 2014 at 3:42 AM

    Hi Nicola, thank you for sharing your experience and recovery status. I’m now six months post op (nuss procedure, 1 bar) and I’m 49, female. I certainly do feel that our age is a factor in a slower recovery. Although I have to say from 5 months it did get a bit easier. What I found was I got shocking pain in the muscles in my back which affected the large muscles down each side of my torso. I also feel more pain on one side. So my hubby gave me back massages every few days which helped immensely in keeping pain at bay.
    I still can’t lift anything heavy as it feels really sore on my chest and I feel it damages the healing tissue. When I read of people going back to the gym after a few months and running etc, I’m go smacked as I couldn’t imagine doing any of that yet. I have still had a couple of palpitation episodes since my op (my main reason for having op was bad palpitations) but I’m hoping when bar is removed they will stop.
    Hope you start feeling better soon.

  43. 43 Gstar
    December 23, 2014 at 7:35 AM

    Hello I’m a 39 year old doing the Nuss in 3 months problem is I’m a police officer and need to be back to work in under 6 months. I would have to climb 300 steps, push a 200 pound sled several times, and carry 150 dummy 10 yards. Is this even doable in 6 months??? Please help me figure this out!

  44. 44 Tracy D.
    February 27, 2015 at 4:42 AM

    I’m a 43 year old female who had the Nuss procedure done June 7, 2013 after they discovered I had massive aortic restriction on the right side. I had only 80% use of my lungs due to the fact that my chest had caved in over time since childhood over 4 inches crushing my heart into my lung. I was having breathing and heart murmur problems since I was 17.

    All the doctors couldn’t figure out why I was having these issues even the same year of my surgery I continued to be misdiagnosed until I had a MRI done. That is when they finally realized what was going on. I was told I was going to die but was not a candidate for surgery due to my age.

    I was on hydrocodone for 8 months and decided I didn’t want to get stuck on them since some day as I get much older I would really need them. It has been 1 year and I months and found that I can predict the weather better than a weather forecaster. I’m in constant pain and some days are more extreme than others. I’ve asked about removing the bar to eliminate the constant shooting pain in my sides where the bar attaches and the tight bruising pain where the bar goes across. Exercise seems to aggravate the pain and is almost paralyzing.

    I had them cut me from one side under my breasts to the other side (basically cutting me in half but they did leave a small section between the breasts uncut so I could wear a bikini and it not show). I would suggest this if your young and its severe or potentially will be over the years as your bones will continue to go inward but not if your old and its not that much of a issue. I find some days I just want to give up due to my limitations and pain but my other option was I was dying. It was just a matter of time when my heart just gave up finally with being severely crushed.

  45. 45 Ben
    March 27, 2015 at 8:17 PM

    I am thinking of getting the buss procedure, I have pectus excavatum and really bad posture and want to fix this. I also get really short of breath after easy things like stairs. I am 16 and have played rep hockey for 12 years and next year is my last year. This is the main thing stopping me from getting it done because I want to play for my last year… Any suggestions? And should I get it done, is it worth it?

  46. 46 Victoria
    May 14, 2015 at 9:06 AM

    Hello! My name is Victoria and my boyfriend got the Nuss Procedure about three years ago. He is supposed to get the bar out at some point this year, and I was wondering if there is anything I could do to help him ease the pain and help his recovery. We will be living together and I want to be able to minimize his pain as much as possible so he can be comfortable and happy during recovery before school starts again. If you have any tips or tricks for me, it would be greatly appreciated!! is how you can reach me if you have anything!

  47. 47 Anonymous
    May 25, 2015 at 5:39 PM

    I really would like to know if sports like boxing are EVER a possibility after getting this surgery, I’m only 14 and have recently started boxing. I really do not feel very confident with the chest I have, my dip is only mild but my chest is sunk back and my shoulder blades stick out. I have had chest some bad chest pains over the years but those have faded away, my lungs dont seem to be affected that much. If I’m honest im a pretty good runner and I can huff and puff for a LONG time, I can hold my breath for nearly two minutes. But yeah, back to my question, is boxing ever possible after surgery.

  48. 48 lj
    December 27, 2015 at 9:50 PM


    I had the nuss procedure two weeks ago. I am a 22year old female. Just worried about the ends of the bar being visible under the skin on either side of the chest wall. I had a single bar put in but it has not made a difference to the PE. The deformity is especially prominent when I am sitting up. What went wrong?

  49. 49 Jac ablett
    January 5, 2016 at 6:49 PM

    My son had the Nuss procedure in September 2015. He is 26 and has 1 bar. 4 months in is still on pain medication, can’t sleep properly, (has to sleep sitting up) and has difficulty in getting in or out of car and bed. He gets very stiff when not moving around. He returned to work after 8 weeks and has good and bad days. He works in an office. He has taken 1 further day off after several bad nights and they have started disciplinary procedures. At first they were sympathetic but expected him to have fully recovered upon his return. The stabiliser fixed on his right side seems to cause an extremely painful shooting pain. There has been little advice from the hospital and no physio advice, we learned about physio from the Internet. I cannot see much change in the near future but it has made a difference in the appearance. Whether his breathing has improved will be discovered if the pain becomes less and he returns to more physical activity but at the moment he is still in a great deal of pain.
    While waiting on the day of surgery we spoke to the parents of a young man the same age who was having the bar removed after 18 months because he could not get along with the bar any longer.

  50. February 12, 2016 at 2:49 AM

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  51. March 5, 2016 at 1:27 AM

    Hi, I’m Emily I’m a 13 year old female who had the nuss procedure approximately nine days ago. I only had one bar placed in, however my haller index is 10. And I had about 3 cm left between my sternum and spine. Before the surgery I had very severe pain in my chest for about 1-2 months. After some serious research on the procedure we met with a doctor, my family and I, and agreed to have the surgery. Personally, I wasn’t nervous, the pain from my pectus excavatum was so awful, I just wanted to be done with the surgery. I had my surgery done at UCLA with Dr. Dunn. From there I spent 6 days in the hospital.Through out the following week in the hospital I had many obstacles. First, I had developed a awful rash on the side of my rib which we first thought was shingles, later deciding it was a allergic reaction to a lydacain patch. Then my lungs started to collapse. This however was resolved the more I walked around. After that my right lung began to fill with fluid. If you have had the nuss procedure you probably know coughing is extremely painful, and I had pneumonia. I also began sweating like crazy. I would sweat through my shirt in the hospital and while being in so much pain I couldn’t take it off. All in all even 9 days after my surgery and being in critical pain, I don’t regret the surgery. The best advice I can give anyone is too find happiness in the little things. Celebrate the little victories, like putting on your shoes, sitting up, and walking. And don’t get depressed, you have already made it up halfway up this mountain. You can’t quit now.

  52. 52 Jason
    March 10, 2016 at 3:45 PM

    Hi. Firstly thanks to the author for the website and to all those adding comments. I have also had the Nuss procedure. I was 43 at the time of surgery which was four months ago. It was with Dr Hans Pilkegaard in Denmark. I researched as best possible where and with whom to have the surgery. I read a lot about complications for the procedure especially for adults over 30. It is clear that some surgeons have much more expertise in this area. I believe that I was incredibly fortunate to find Hans. He answered all my questions personally be email when I deciding whether to proceed. In particular, I am convinced that he and team take the highest level of precautions to mitigate against complications. Hans has completed over 2000 procedures since the early 90s. If you are considering surgery please take great care on deciding who does your surgery. I personally had no complications. Yes, the pain is immense and the recovery is very difficult and slow. But that is the nature of the surgery especially if you are older. I came off synthetic morphine within 3 weeks but still take ibuprofen and paracetamol daily. I was jogging/shuffling by 4-5 weeks which helped tremendously. Breath work has been essential. I do yogic breathing everyday and this not only helps physical recovery but also helps mental and emotional stability. I still don’t lift very heavy items but have been carrying back packs over 10kg for 4-5 weeks. Massages were essential for the back pain! Thanks to my amazing wife! I was useful for 6 weeks – could not dress myself etc… So having someone to help makes a world of difference. Hans was also very honest about expectations. He was clear that my ribs flaring wouldn’t change massively. But this I don’t mind. The chest depression is gone all but a very tiny dent due to the bones now being inflexible due to age – but it is nothing really. My main reason for having surgery was the sudden onset of symptoms – severe heart palpitations and breathing problems. The palpitations have reduce significantly. There continued to be some after surgery due to the trauma of the surgery but now I have been given the all clear by a cardiologist. Breathing has also improved a fair bit. Hans said there won’t be a massive improvement in breathing. The medical profession really needs to take note! Good luck to all who decide to go ahead with surgery!

  53. 53 Joseph D
    March 13, 2016 at 1:28 PM

    I’m 26, had nuss procedure done the 13th of January in Boston. As today with 8 weeks after surgery I still depend on pills to control the pain but mostly during bed time, if I go out I also take myself a dosis. 3 weeks ago I was feeling confident by not taking pain meds and being lazy all day instead of walking around as the doctor told me to. I paid the price for that, out of the blue I started having chest spams that escalated when I tried to move around, it got to a point where I couldn’t take the pain, felt like heart attacks. I ended up calling an ambulance. At the clinic they calm me down with morphine and after some X-rays and 24 hours of observation to see if everything was ok they send me home.

    This surgery is not easy, i have loss weight, gained an uncomfortable belly and i have prohibited to lift anything heavier than 5 pounds for the first 12 weeks. I have just one bar made of titanium, since I’m skinny I can see the the bar on the side, specially on my left where I have a bump which I hate to look at. The doctor said that would get better if i gain weight. As right now my level of satisfaction with the surgery still 50-50.

    July 28, 2016 at 9:31 AM

    Im 4 weeks out of double bar surgery and am on a good dose of meds but the pain is is horrible. I am a carpenter and was put out of work for 4 months. Im trying to stay positive but the pain takes me. Im 38 and had complications in surgery where breast bone and cartilage had to be chopped out after taking the 2 bars that were bent on the bone out . This is horrible and I have a high pain tolerance. ANY words or help would be most appreciated.


  55. July 28, 2016 at 4:27 PM

    The only words I have is that it will improve over time and soon you will not be able to remember what the pain was like. Hang in there!

  56. 56 Caspian Sutherland
    September 11, 2016 at 8:14 PM

    I’m 8 weeks Post-op, and was operated on July 4th by Dr. Joel Dunning in the UK on the NHS. I’m 18 years old, and I was in hospital for 5 days (Monday to Saturday) for the insertion of 2 bars.

    I was part of a trial to monitor pain levels in young adults who only received a PCA pump as pain relief, as opposed to an epidural as well, therefore I didn’t have a catheter. I was given Paracetamol, Codeine and Ibuprofen as pain relief, as well as lidocaine patches and by the 2nd week I was off all medication. The only complication I had was a small pneumothorax, and that was gone by the 2nd week. By the 4th week I was able to sleep all through the night, without waking up and I was near enough lying flat. Although the first few weeks were a struggle, I made sure that I was prepared by buying all the healthy food and supplements I needed, all in all I only lost a few pounds. By the 6th week I was free from any discomfort, although I find even now that strenuous exercise can cause soreness.

  57. 57 Carl Coleman
    November 14, 2016 at 4:10 PM

    I’m 4 months in post procedure and I was wondering if I could get some advice. I have been dealing with unrealiable doctors who all say different things and are sending me every which way. I am 17 years old and a senior in highschool. I was given an epideral for the surgery which failed. I had to deal with the brunt of the pain for a few hours before I could talk in short gasps. I was sent out of the hopsital on the second day and they convinced my parents that I would be able to attend school within the week. I could barely last half an hour sitting up before I would feel like passing out from the pain. My doctors were reluctant to give me pain killers and made me stop them after the first month. Its 4 months down the road and I can only sit up for maximum of 4-5 hours on my best days and it is affecting my chances of graduating. Does anyone have any advice on what helped them get through it and/or what I should do?

  58. 58 Ermes
    December 8, 2016 at 5:07 PM

    This is a great website. An incredible resource in many ways.

    i’m a male at 54, living in Japan for 20 years with the need to have heart surgery to repair a small aortic aneurysm (replacing it with an artificial artery) within the next 4 years or i may not make it to 60, the doctor says. i have Grade II PE and i am hearing from other doctors that either a Nuss or Ravitch procedure is possible. The doctors i have spoken to have not stated that fixing the PE is absolutely necessary, but agree that doing so would definitely lessen any pressure on the heart afterwards, which is quite important to me. So, after the heart surgery, i’d like them to fix the chest and then sew me up. My question is:

    Which procedure would any of you recommend? Ravitch or Nuss?

    If anyone has any thoughts on which one would be best to do at this age, i would very much welcome a response.

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