Man Born With ‘Caved In’ Chest Who Had Surgery Becomes Calvin Klein Model

by : Charlie Cocksedge on : 23 May 2019 15:24
model david james seedmodel david james seedKennedy News and Media

A man who was born with a ‘caved in’ chest endured excruciating corrective surgery, in which he had a metal bar bolted to his ribs as a child, has gone on to land a job as a Calvin Klein model.


David James Seed, 25, dreaded summer holidays as a youngster for fear of having to undress thanks to a condition that meant his chest grew inwards.

After years of discomfort, David was just 12 when he underwent gruelling surgery to have the condition – known as pectus excavatum – corrected.

David had a curved metal bar placed underneath his sternum and attached to both sides of his rib cage with wire and pins to force the bones back into their correct position.


The metal bar put pressure on David’s ribs and chest leaving him in immense pain which felt like being ‘crushed under a heavy weight’.

But David believes the pain was worth it, as the surgery allowed him to become a confident young man, rather than one defined by his condition.

Now a successful full-time model and fashion blogger, David had the bar surgically removed on May 15 and shared photos of his transformation to inspire others suffering from the condition.

David has worked with the likes of Calvin Klein, Ted Baker and Alfred Dunhill, and thanks the ‘life-changing’ operation for his success in his career.

The 25-year-old, who lives in Manchester, said:

Essentially I would not have a career working in fashion without the surgery. I wouldn’t be able to do topless shoots and the clothes wouldn’t fit me like they do.

When I started to get all these modelling jobs, it was mad really because I knew I never would have been able to do them if I hadn’t had the operation.

Apart from my career, I also appreciate the simple things the surgery has given me like being able to go on summer holidays and not having to worry about showing my chest. I have been allowed to become a confident young man.


He continued:

You grow into the deformity as well so if I didn’t have the surgery, my shoulders probably would have rolled forward but now I can stand up proud with my shoulders back.

I just know that I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the surgery. It has changed my life.

After first noticing the dip in his chest aged 10, David watched as it got deeper over the next two years. Pectus excavatum occurs when the cartilage in the rib cage grows too fast so the ribs start to grow inwards and cause the sternum to sink.

Doctors diagnosed David with pectus excavatum at age 12, and his parents pushed for their son to have the corrective surgery.

The two-hour operation was performed at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in summer 2006, giving David the school holidays to recover.

xray of 'caved in' chestxray of 'caved in' chestKennedy News and Media

Speaking about the operation, David said:

I remember meeting the consultant and he was explaining to us what was going to happen and that it was going to be extremely painful and it just freaked me out. I got a nose bleed and almost passed out.

But going into hospital for the operation I was really naive. I was just a happy little boy going along. It wasn’t until I was about to get the anaesthetic and the nurse mentioned that this is the second most painful surgery that they’re allowed to do that I started panicking.

After the operation, David recalls:

Then I woke up and I had a flat chest. It saw it straight away, it was mad. I was just amazed to have this new body. I had gone from having such an extreme dip to a perfectly flat chest.

The pain was excruciating. I had this foreign object in my body and it was pushing and putting all this pressure on my bones.

It was like having a really heavy weight on your chest but you can’t lift it off.

I went back to school after the summer holidays but it took me a long time to recover fully. It was a huge change to my body adjusting to having this object in me. And it takes time for your bones to realise that this is how they’re supposed to grow now instead of constantly trying to keep growing inwards.


After fully recovering, David started working out to build muscle and get the rounded chest he had always wanted.

And at 15 he strolled up to his mum in his Calvin Kleins, flexing his pecs and six pack and jokingly declared that one day he would be a model for the fashion giant.

david james seed's chest before surgerydavid james seed's chest before surgeryKennedy News and Media

But it wasn’t until his gap year working as a teaching assistant in Sydney, Australia, when a stranger suggested David pursue modelling that the then 19-year-old took the idea seriously.

The teen was signed immediately after attending a walk-in at a modelling agency and gave up his place at university to explore the career.

Since then David, who is now signed with the London agency Models 1 and Boss in Manchester, hasn’t looked back and travels the world modelling for designers, magazines and editorials.

Despite not knowing anything about fashion before ‘falling into’ modelling, David quickly developed an eye for industry and now runs his own fashion blog, which features men’s outfits all put together with items from affordable retailers such as George at Asda, New Look, Primark and River Island.

And David is now using his blog to share his journey since his chest surgeries as he wants to show people the reality of what he’s been through to get to where he is today.

The metal bar was removed from David’s chest during 90-minute surgery on May 15 this year as it is no longer needed to keep his rib cage and sternum from sinking in.

Despite a few cracked ribs and bruising, David is recovering well and is looking forward to getting back to work.

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Charlie Cocksedge

Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.

Topics: Health, chest, Model