A further possible treatment for Pectus Excavatum is the use of an external brace, though this technique is more commonly used when treating pectus carinatum. The method involves the wearing of a specially designed brace which applies pressure to the chest and back with an aim to alter the appearance of the sternum. Most braces work by attempting to pull the shoulder blades back and down helping to address the individuals posture. The effect of this will be to produce a more appealing chest shape and potentially pull the sternum out.
The relative effectiveness of the bracing technique is dependent on the quality of the brace used and the extent to which the patient wears the brace. Typically patients are recommended to wear a brae permanently for a sustained period of time, taking it off only for washing, or throughout the night.
The bracing techniques has been attributed with notable improvements to the appearance of the sternum in Pectus Excavatum patients. These are achieved primarily due to an improvement in posture and spinal alignment which helps to pull the shoulders back encouraging the sternum to come out. However, the bracing technique tends to only be successful for children and young adolescents, who’s bone structure is more ‘plastic’ and amendable. In adults, the bracing technique can produce marginal improvements if used for an extended period of time; it must be used for a long time as the force exerted on the user is only small. Typically patients are advised to wear the brace under clothing throughout the day to maximize potential results.
For this reason, many adult patients tend to combine the bracing technique with other non medical techniques such as the vacuum bell to maximize the likelihood of success. It’s usage in this scenario can be effective, as the small and constant pressure exerted helps to compound the effect of the vacuum bell, and it has been shown to speed up the attainment of changes in the chest shape.
How can I get a Brace?
There are many types of medical chest braces, many of which are extremely similar in design. However, patients are recommended to use a brace specifically designed for Pectus Excavatum, since many braces can exert a force on the front of the chest, which could make the condition worse. LaceIT braces are one example of braces designed for Pectus Excavatum.
How much does a brace cost?
Braces vary greatly in price, but they also vary greatly in effectiveness. For a medically prescribed Pectus Excavatum brace, patients are expected to spend close to ?200. However, there are many non medical alternatives which are much less expensive, but are also much less effective.