Q: I am a 16 yr old female, and would like to get into corsetting.  I was reading the section you have on RIBS, FLARED AND CORSETTING (RIB PROTRUSION).  The first question is somewhat similar to my problem, but not quite.  I do have flared ribs, but nothing as extreme as 'Pectus Excavatum'.  The other problem is that my sternum is sunken in, but only slightly.  While I researched some on the Pectus Excavatum and Pectus Carinatum, my case did not seem nearly as severe as some of the pictures that are shown.  I have never had heart or breathing problems before, my ribs are even on both sides (no awkward sticking bones), and I do not have posture or spinal problems.  I am not sure what it is, but  when I was born, the doctors only said that it was a common birth defect and nothing to worry about.  My sternum hasn't grown in and my ribs haven't grown outward any more than they were when I was born.  I've read that the only way to fix such a problem with people who have these cases is to have surgery.  I want to avoid surgery at all costs. I am going to the doctor to ask about my ribs and to find out what my defect is -- if it is a slight case of 'PE' or 'PC', or if it could be anything else.  My doctor most likely doesn't know much about the effects of corsetting, and I am not sure if there are any corsettieres in my area that I would be able to talk to. 

So, do you think that a corset would help in a case such as mine?  Mostly what I am worried about is, that if I were to use a corset, it would have a  dangerous effect on my sternum. --  'Hello Kitty' (1/13/04)

A: The condition you mention may or may not be PE or PC, as you already have suggested. Your doctor's consultation should confirm this. The condition itself is in large part a function of alternate growth of the cartilage between the ribs and sternum. Depending on the degree, it can stiffen the ribcage, making breathing more difficult and, if the sternum is sunken, it
can press and displace the heart, usually further towards the left. Since you do not appear have the issues associated with more advanced forms of the condition, I would not be extremely concerned that corseting would cause problems. However, in your case, I would urge you to go slow, as you may be more dependant on abdominal breathing. This becomes more inhibited as the corset is worn tighter. 

The other area to watch is the degree to with your sternum is moved as a result of increased IAP (intra abdominal pressure). Your primary indicator is discomfort in the sternum as a result of excessive stress. In individuals without PE or PC, the sternum can be moved considerably (upward and outward) without great difficulty, and similar to breathing with the upper
ribs. If you don't have difficulty now with upper thoracic (chest) breathing, you should not have any issues from corset wearing. The advice as always is to go slow and listen to your body. There is nothing inherent to modern-made to measure corsets that should worsen your condition.


Q: I have pectus carinatum, and I was wondering, if I were to start corseting would the corset would press it down or if it would cause the corset to bulge in a peculiar fashion?
-- Grace (11/29/13)

A: Pectus carinatum (PC) is a thoracic skeletal anomaly caused by excess cartilage formed as part of the sternum and or it's associated structures.  It is commonly treated, if desired, with bracing, but also muscle training.  Corseting, if fitted by an expert, could possibly be of help, but depending on the degree and location, different models should be considered, e.g., an overbust style will offer the fitter likely a better chance of finding a proper support configuration. Bulging due to corseting should not occur if properly fitted. A shoulder strapped underbust could be a consideration as well, again depending on the shape and degree of the PC.



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