Rib Flare

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Rib Flare deformity (also referred to as Rib Flaring deformity) can be present with Pectus Excavatum (PE), Pectus Carinatum (PC), or by itself. It is characterized by an outwards protrusion of the lower ribs. It is an aesthetic issue and is most obvious when the arms are raised. when an individual has treatment for a PE or PC, the rib flaring deformity is rarely improved unless it is addressed at the same time. Otherwise the reduction of the PE/PC deformity can sometimes make it appear more prominent. As with PE/PC the Rib Flaring deformity usually develops during the growth spurts of adolescence children. Once the child has finished growing the deformity will not usually increase. Rib Flaring is usually asymptomatic so it is a considered a cosmetic issue. Treatment is most effective in a growing child but some correction is possible in an adult with appropriate bracing. Adults with a residual mild Rib Flare deformity may do specific exercises to try to help hide the deformity. Although, while these exercises may have a small effect in reducing the appearance of PC, the ribs are not improved by exercises.

Treatment Options

There are four possible treament options for Rib Flaring:

rib belt


The biggest mistake people make is trying to use rib belts/binders to treat their Rib Flare deformities. These are meant to be used for bruised and fractured ribs to help to minimize the motion of the ribs while they heal. However the are often used for Rib Flare because they are inexpensive and abundantly available. However, rib belts and binders will NOT fix Rib Flare and can often make the problem worse. They apply concentric pressure to the body and therefore apply sideways force as much as the apply front to back force. This sideways pressure can encourage the lower ribs to move medial (towards the middle) and anterior (forwards) thereby making the problem worse. The slimmer the person the more the problem is exaggerated.

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Exercises to attempt to reduce the appearance of Rib Flare fall into 2 categories.

1. Exercises designed to try to reposition the rib cage slightly to thereby realign the ribs. These include breathing exercises to strengthen the diaphragm and abdominal exercises to strengthen the core.

2. Chest exercise to build up the chest muscles to mask the deformity.

Exercises alone will NOT fix moderate/severe Rib Flare. They should ideally only be considered for mild cases. However, exercises used in conjunction with bracing may provide additional corrective effect or used post-bracing may  help to maintain correction.

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Surgery is rarely performed for Rib flaring deformity. When it is done it will usually involve breaking the ribs to reposition them and then treating the Rib Flare the same as is done with broken ribs.  This may involve using titanium plates to stabilize the fractured ribs while they heal and hold the ribs in their correct anatomic location.

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The LA Rib Flare Bracing technique is different to belts/binders and other bracing options. Through the fitting of multiple patients at our clinics in LA, we have determined that Rib Flare responds best to antero-posterior force application principles of treatment. We apply our Bracing algorithms to Rib Flare deformity to determine the correct force application and time needed for optimum correction and now can offer those with Rib Flare, the ‘LA Rib Flare Treatment Program’ to maximize the results of brace treatment. For each patient we design a program to successfully achieve the best outcome in the shortest possible time.

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