Vacuum Bell Therapy

What is the Vacuum Bell?

The Vacuum Bell is a suction cup device that is used to create a vacuum at the chest wall, in order to pull the sternum out. More specifically, a vacuum of up to 15% below atmospheric pressure is created using a hand pump to draw the sternum out into a more normal position. The vacuum bell is currently available in three different sizes (16cm, 19cm and 26cm in diameter) in order to allow for treatment of a range of patients. In addition, a model specifically designed for the treatment of female patients is also available.

How does it work?

The usage of the vacuum bell works by pulling the breastbone out from its caved-in position into a more raised position. The cartilaginous rib ends and costal arches, which are attached to the breastbone, are also pulled into a raised position. Simultaneously and with equivalent force, the rims of the vacuum bell press on the human body. The stress of these concurrent forces produces bending movements, primarily in the breastbone area and at the funnel edges. The bending movements at the funnel edges are counterbalanced by the anchorage of the ribs to the spinal column (backbone). These bending movements transform the cartilaginous rib-endings and costal arches and the two moveable breastbone-hinges. Correction of the funnel is primarily brought about by this transformation.

Lifting of the funnel involves a 3-part process effecting the bones, cartilages and ligaments of the ribcage:

  • an initial, reversible (elastic) deformation;
  • a gradual, permanent transformation;
  • and micro-ruptures, most likely occurring at the beginning of the treatment (until these ruptures heal, the patient?s ribcage will experience a slight temporary loss of firmness).
  • The funnel’s return to its concave position upon removal of the vacuum bell might be explained via the analogy of a competition between the ribcage’s firmness and the pull of muscles, including the diaphragm. Optimal responses to therapy appear to result from lifting the funnel slowly and continuously in such a way that the temporary losses of firmness in the ribcage are kept to a minimum. It should take some time (even 2 to 4 weeks) for the chest to be lifted to the degree that the funnel comes into contact with the viewing glass. The inward-pulling muscles, such as the diaphragm, become stretched by lifting the chest wall.
    As a result of the complete duration of treatment, these muscles grow accustomed to their new position and to pulling the funnel less forcefully. In many cases, this growing process takes longer than any other part of the treatment.

    How do you use it?

    The use of a vacuum bell device is very simple indeed. The device is placed in the center of the patients chest above the sternum. It is then pushed onto the chest to pressurize the space contained underneath. The hand pump is then used to force air out of this space in order to create a partial vacuum. This process causes the sternum and chest wall to be sucked out, replacing the removed air, producing a more normal appearance to the chest. It is recommended that during the initial usage, the patient should increase the pressure to a comfortable level and leave the device on for roughly 30 minutes. After this period, the device can simply be lifted of the chest to release the pressure and remove the vacuum.

    With subsequent uses, as the patient becomes more comfortable with the device, they will be able to extend the period of usage and increase the pressure within the contained space to a higher level. According to the experiences of our members, the vacuum bell should be used for a minimum of 30 minutes, twice per day, and may be used up to a maximum of several hours daily. More advice from members who have used the device can be found on the blog.

    After removing the device, the sternum will gradually revert to its original position. However, with the continued usage of the device, the sternum will revert less each time, until a more normal position of the sternum is achieved. It is recommended that the vacuum bell be applied regularly on a daily basis throughout the period of treatment in order to maximize the effectiveness of the treatment, though many patients decide to work up to this frequency. A typical treatment period spans between one to three years, depending on the success of the treatment, though many users experience positive effects within a few months.

    Does it really work?

    The initial results from using the device are extremely dramatic, though these dissipate after usage. For permanent gains to be achieved, the vacuum bell must be applied regularly over a prolonged period of time. Many individuals who have used the device for a period in excess of a year have documented significant gains and some have even obtained a completely normal appearance to the chest and cured the Pectus Excavatum condition. The vacuum bell can therefore be considered an effective alternative and a therapeutic option when compared to the highly invasive and painful cosmetic surgery options.

    A comprehensive medical study was recently conducted in order to determine the effectiveness of vaccum bell treatment. It revealed highly positive and significant results and has cemented the vacuum bell treatment as a viable and effective option. For more details on this study, please read this post.

    What are the complications?

    There are very few complications or side effects associated with the use of Vacuum Bell therapy. However, some patients have experienced subcutaneous haematoma, petechial bleeding, dorsalgia and transient paresthesia of the upper extremities during the application of the device, though none of which are considered serious. In addition, there are extremely rare cases where inappropriate usage has resulted in rib fractures.

    What types of Vacuum Bell are there?

    There are two main types of vacuum bell available, the Costa vacuum bell and the Klobe vacuum bell. Both devices share a similar design and are both considered to be highly effective. However, there are in fact distinctions which can be made between the two devices. For example, the Costa vacuum bell is black whilst the Klobe vacuum bell is white. Additionally, both vacuum bells have a slightly different positions for the suction pipe, although the two devices are largely identical in the materials used.The two versions of Vacuum bell differ greatly in price. The Costa vacuum bell is priced at $450 USD, whilst the Klobe vacuum bell is more expensive, priced at $600 USD. Moreover, whilst the Costa Vacuum bell is available in the US and Europe, the Klobe vacuum Bell is only attainable in Europe.

    More importantly, the two devices differ greatly in the sizes offered. The Costa vacuum bell is only available in one size; 10 inch vacuum bell intended for male adults 5?7 or taller. However, the Klobe vacuum bell is available in 5 different sizes:

    • The Large Vacuum Bell, diameter about 10?, for male persons taller than approx. 5? 7? (1.70 meters)
    • The Small Vacuum Bell, diameter about 7.5?, for person taller than approx. 4? 7? (1.40 meters)
    • The Small Vacuum Bell Type Bodybuilder for bodybuilders and special applications
    • The Mini Vacuum Bell, diameter about 6.3?, for children taller than approx. 3? 5? (1.04 meters)
    • The Vacuum Bell for women

    In addition to these two official devices there are a number of home made alternatives which individuals, unable to obtain a vacuum bell, have created as a replacement. These devices can vary in effectiveness and are typically less capable. An example of a home made device is the converted head of a plunger. Whilst some argue that these devices can be effective, most people serious about obtaining a more normal appearance to the chest choose to purchase a Costa or Klobe vacuum bell.

    How do you get a Vacuum Bell?

    Obtaining a vacuum bell can be a difficult process since they are not commercially available. To purchase a vacuum bell it is usually necessary to contact the manufacturer directly by email.

    Costa Vacuum Bell –

    Klobe Vacuum Bell –

    To order a vacuum bell simply state that you are interested in purchasing their product and tell them you height and weight so that they can determine which sized device would best suite you. They will promptly respond to your query with more information about the medical device in order to help you decide whether their product is right for you.

    You should also be aware that both manufacturers require that you consult a medical doctor before buying their product. Whilst Costa will accept your own word, Klobe, will only sell you his product if you are able to provide written permission from a registered medical practitioner.

    Occasionally, it is possible to purchase these deices from users who have finished their vacuum bell treatment. Such examples are typically made available on ebay or community based websites such as – to find out if any members are selling a vacuum bell, please visit the blog.

    Want to find out more about how to treat Pectus Excavatum?