Treat the funnel breast with the suction cup


A funnel breast (Pectus excavatum or Funnel chest) is a congenital malformation of the rib cage. The sternum stands too far inwards and the rib cage is drawn in in the shape of a funnel.

In most cases, a funnel breast only has cosmetic disadvantages. Since the chest retraction can reduce the space for the heart and lungs, the funnel chest may need to be treated. In addition to respiratory gymnastics, physiotherapy and surgical measures, the suction cup can be considered as a non-surgical therapy option.

How does the suction bell work on a funnel breast?

Treatment with the suction cup according to Klobe and Schier is suitable for patients in whom the funnel breast is not very pronounced and, above all, has a cosmetic disadvantage. This method of treatment is particularly preferable for children and adolescents, as the bone and cartilage structure of the chest wall is still soft and successful.

The suction cup is a vacuum pump made of orthopedic silicone. This is attached to the outer, front chest. The vacuum pump then creates a negative pressure. This negative pressure should then ensure that the inwardly inclined chest stands up.

So that there are no pain or circulatory problems, the first treatments should be carried out in a clinic under supervision. The vacuum of the suction bell falls below atmospheric pressure by a maximum of 15%, so that major skin damage is unlikely. The negative pressure can cause skin irritation.

In addition to the suction cup, physiotherapy and muscle building training should definitely be carried out in order to provide positive support for vacuum therapy.

What results can be expected?

After about three months, the first successes of treatment can be seen. After about half a year there is lasting success, which means that the funnel breast does not fall back into its starting position. In order to maintain the therapeutic success, the therapy must be continued for a further two years. Good results can be expected especially in children and adolescents.

The extent to which the chest wall will ultimately rise cannot be precisely predicted. In any case, muscle building and posture training should support the suction cup treatment in order to achieve the best possible results.

Find out more at: Funnel breast OP

Does the use of the suction cup still make sense in adults?

The treatment is especially useful if the funnel breast is not very pronounced. Children and adolescents have an advantage due to the not yet completed growth phase that the therapy leads to success.

But adults can also benefit from the effect of the suction cup. On the one hand, the suction cup can be used before operations so that the operation is no longer as serious.

On the other hand, the chest remains raised for up to several hours after the treatments before it sinks again, making it possible, for example, to visit swimming pools with purely cosmetic complaints.

How long does the suction cup take?

Regular and consistent use of the suction cup is important for a successful treatment. The importance of daily use is often compared to wearing braces. Here, too, the straightening of the teeth is only achieved through consistent wear. The suction cup must therefore be used every day with a funnel breast.

The suction cup should initially be used 3 times a day for at least half an hour, the times can then be gradually increased to a total of 3 hours a day, for example. The time can also be shortened for young children or more sensitive people, depending on how much the person concerned can tolerate.

In any case, daily use should be carried out as often and for as long as possible. The first lasting treatment success - i.e. an initial correction of the chest wall deformity - usually occurs after 6 months. In other cases, the chest wall is only erected after a year.

Treatment with the suction cup usually lasts two to three years.

Cost of treatment with a suction cup

If the costs for the therapy of the funnel breast through the suction cup are not covered by the health insurances, the patient has to pay them himself. These are currently a little over € 600.

Does the health insurance pay for that?

Visits to the doctor due to a funnel breast and diagnostics, for example to find out whether internal organs are impaired by the funnel breast, are covered by the health insurance.

The costs for the suction cup are often not covered by health insurance companies. The financial burden then lies with the patient or the relatives or parents. It is therefore important to ask the respective health insurance company under which conditions the costs can be covered. The best way to proceed in such cases should be discussed with the attending physician, as he / she is usually more familiar with the application and the assumption of costs.

Side effects of the suction cup

Treatment with the suction cup has relatively few side effects. Often times, skin irritation and reddening of the skin can occur where the negative pressure acts on the chest wall. Small, punctiform hemorrhages in the area of ​​the suction cup are also possible.

The gradual straightening of the chest wall can also cause pain in the chest wall area. Since the ribs pull back towards the spine and their position is influenced during the therapy, back pain can also occur during the treatment.

The occurrence of circulatory problems due to the unusual negative pressure on the chest wall is usually only a problem in the first therapy sessions. In addition, the suction cup therapy can cause sensory disorders and abnormal sensations.

If side effects occur, it is absolutely advisable to consult the attending physician, as the symptoms are in most cases caused by the duration of treatment and the daily duration of use can then be adjusted to reduce side effects.

Where can I find a doctor who uses the suction cup?

On the one hand, those affected can search the Internet for suitable clinics that offer suction cup therapy for funnel breasts.

Many university hospitals in Germany have thoracic surgery departments that also allow non-surgical therapy of the funnel chest using a suction cup.

In any case, the health insurance company or the treating orthopedic surgeon can also be asked to whom to turn for suction cup therapy.

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