What is Rib Flare?

Rib flare is where the lower portion at the front of your rib cage protrudes forwards or out. This often gets worse when you lift your arms over your head. It tends to be more prominent on the left-hand side of the body.

Do your ribs protrude out 1-2 inches in front of the rest of your body?

Rib flaring is associated with Pectus Excavatum and Pectus Carinatum conditions. A rib flare can often appear to be the most significant deformity associated with otherwise a minor pectus deformity. Rib flaring can also appear to be isolated without any other obvious abnormality.

Specialist Screening Healthcare Ireland’s PectusCheck service offers both a consultant thoracic specialist opinion combined with specialist investigative diagnostic tests (if clinically indicated) specifically tailored to rib flare conditions.

Severe Bilateral Rib Flare, 25 years old.

Asymmetric Rib Flare with Asymmetric Pectus Excavatum, 28 years old.

What are the Symptoms of a Rib Flare? 


Back pain.

Abdominal pain that is initially sharp and intense before fading to a dull ache.

“Popping” or “clicking” feelings, or the sensation that the rib is slipping.

Difficulty breathing properly.

Treatment Options for Rib Flaring

For milder cases of rib flare conditions, a rib flare strap or for more severe cases a rib flare brace are effective and successful treatment options in young patients while their chest walls are still flexible and can be easily manipulated into the correct position. Specific exercise routines to target and develop core muscle groups especially the abdominal external oblique muscles can offer the greatest chance of improving rib flaring but requires commitment.

For individuals with rib flare conditions and whose chest wall has matured and is no longer flexible to be easily manipulated with a brace into the corrective position, chest wall resection and reconstruction surgery may be a suitable option.

Rib Flare Strap

Before Surgery: Severe bilateral rib flare, 25 years old. Chest wall has matured and is no longer flexible.

After Surgery: 3 months post-surgery (bilateral chest wall resection with reconstruction) performed under Professor Karen Redmond, March 2021.