NEW YORK CITY (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) -- A condition that you've probably never heard of can wreck a child's health and self-esteem. Pectus, or chest wall deformities, are fairly common. As many as one in 500 kids are born with pectus, which either causes the chest wall to appear sunken in or to protrude. When corrective braces don't work, there is a surgical solution.
Thirty-two year old Joseph, or "Joey," Bond has come a long way in a short time.
Despite the scar across his breastbone, Bond is now comfortable with his shirt off. As a child though, Bond noticed he was different.
"You can see from other kids what their anatomy looks like and obviously you look at yours and you're like hmmmm," says Bond.
Bond had a condition called pectus carinatum, or pigeon chest. His chest pushed outward, sometimes making it tough to breathe.
"Growing up with this and going through the challenges, you don't feel normal. You feel like something's been taken away," says Bond.
Doctors aren't sure what causes pectus or chest deformations, but in Bond's case, overgrowth of cartilage caused his breastbone to pop out.
Andrew J. Kaufman, M.D., assistant professor at Icahn School of Medicine and director of the Thoracic Surgery Chest Wall Program at Mount Sinai in New York City says, "The chest is pointed forward like the bottom of a boat, like the keel of a boat."
During a three-hour surgery, doctors moved the muscles on the chest wall. Then they made controlled incisions to fix the sternum.
"We basically move all of the abnormal cartilage that is pushing the breastbone forward," explains Dr. Kaufman.
Permanent plates and screws keep the breastbone in place. Recovery takes a few months. Bond is looking forward to working out without thinking twice.
"To be able to catch my breath without having to struggle to catch it," explains Bond.
Dr. Kaufman says pectus excavatum, or a sunken chest, can also be fixed surgically. He said early detection is important so kids can get help through corrective measures, especially if the deformity is not severe.