Pectus excavatum surgery, colloquially known as sunken chest surgery, is a procedure to correct a hollowed or “funnel chest.” A silicone molded implant is placed into the chest cavity over the bone of the sternum to create a more normal-looking chest. This minimally invasive procedure does not require hospitalization. For patients with some hollowing of the upper chest, fat grafting can be done to fill in this area at the same time as the insertion of the implant.
Dr. Reza Momeni at Summit Health is one of a small number of plastic surgeons in the U.S. who specialize in this surgery. As a result, many patients fly to New Jersey from around the world for the procedure. For more information about this condition and procedure, see www.SimplePectus.com.
The surgery does not change the shape of the rib cage, no metal bars are inserted into the chest, and no cutting into the ribs or sternum is necessary.
The procedure is not appropriate for patients with heart problems from cardiac compression or breathing abnormalities from lung pressure. Five to ten percent of patients with pectus excavatum have truly severe heart and lung problems as a result of the pectus excavatum, but this surgery is cosmetic in nature. It does not help medical problems because it does not change the internal chest cage. SIMPLE Pectus Repair is for the vast majority of pectus excavatum patients who do not have heart or lung pressure and would like to improve the appearance without a seriously invasive surgery.
The surgery also cannot be done on children or young teenagers, as the chest must be fully grown in order to make the proper size of customized silicone implant.
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Pectus Excavatum Surgery
When you meet with Dr. Momeni for your pectus excavatum surgery consultation, he will have an honest discussion about your goals, expectations, and concerns, as well as the limits and risks of the surgery. He will review your medical history, examine you, and advise if you are a good candidate for the procedure. If you are traveling to our facility, you can provide a medical history prior to your visit in order to ensure that you are a good candidate.
We will give you thorough written instructions to prepare for your surgery and how to care for yourself after the surgery. Dr. Momeni will, of course, answer any questions you have.
At Summit Health, the patient experience is of primary importance to us. We customize every single procedure we do so that it is tailored to what is best for you and you alone.
If you decide to have SIMPLE Pectus Repair, a custom mold is created during your visit, from which your personalized silicone implant can be made about 2 to 3 weeks prior to your surgery. For those traveling to our center, we offer an expedited 48-hour service for an additional fee.
The surgery takes 1 to 2 hours and is performed with the patient under general anesthesia. A small incision is made under the pectoral muscle where the incision is easily hidden. A small, lighted retracting tool is used to raise the skin from the sunken sternum, and the implant is inserted through the small incision and moved into the proper position within the pectus hollow area. The incision is then closed with sutures that will dissolve on their own.
For patients who have a slight sunken appearance of the upper chest as well, fat grafting can also be performed by taking fat from the abdomen using liposuction. The fat is treated and then injected into the upper chest in order to build up the area so that it is no longer sunken.
You will be able to leave a few hours after your procedure, but you must have someone to drive you home or to your hotel.
Bandages will be placed on the incisions, and these must be kept dry for the first 3 days, after which you can shower. You will have your first follow-up visit within 3 days of surgery. Surgical drains are placed under the skin after surgery to capture fluids. We will give you instructions for caring for them, and they will be removed during your second follow-up visit by day 7. Your third post-operative follow-up visit will be 4 to 5 days after drain removal.
Walking is encouraged after your surgery, and light activity is allowed. Light exercise can be resumed 2 weeks after surgery. Strenuous exercise and contact sports (particularly involving the chest and shoulders) can be resumed in 6 weeks.
We ask local patients to follow up with us again at 1 month and 3 months. If you are from out of town, you may follow up with us by phone or internet.