With more than half a million procedures performed in the last year alone, it is safe to say that most people are familiar with the ideas of cosmetic and reconstructive breast surgery. Virtually everyone today is well aware that plastic surgery techniques can be used to increase the size or improve the appearance of the breasts. Most even know that it can completely rebuild the breasts after a traumatic accident or a mastectomy for the treatment of breast cancer. However, cosmetic and reconstructive breast surgery can also be an effective treatment for some specific diseases and disorders as well. One of these is a rare genetic disorder known as Poland Syndrome.
Named after British surgeon Alfred Poland, Poland Syndrome is an inherited condition characterized primarily by underdevelopment or absence of the pectoralis muscle on one side of the body. This muscle normally attaches to the upper arm on one side and the breastbone (or sternum) on the other, and so is largely responsible for the overall shape and definition of the chest. When the underlying muscle is missing or underdeveloped, as is the case in patients with Poland Syndrome, it can cause abnormalities in the structure of the breast of the affected side of the torso. These can include underdevelopment of the muscles in the chest wall, rib cage abnormalities, breast and nipple abnormalities, sparse or abnormally placed underarm (axillary) hair, and even short and webbed fingers (cutaneous syndactyly) on the affected side.
In most cases, the abnormalities in the chest area do not cause health problems or significantly affect movement, and while the condition occurs more often in males than in females, it is usually more noticeable in women due to the more pronounced nature of the female breast. Both male and female patients find that undergoing reconstructive surgery can give the chest and torso a more symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing appearance. Men with the condition can usually undergo reconstruction at any time after the age of thirteen. However, it is recommended that women wait until after their breast development is complete. Correction in women generally involves inserting a silicone breast implant, just as one would do in a standard breast augmentation procedure, in order to provide symmetry with the opposite breast.
Although cases as extreme as those arising from Poland Syndrome are rare, many woman do have some degree of asymmetry in the size and/or shape of their breasts. If you have a noticeable difference in the size of your breasts that you believe negatively impacts your appearance, there are many cosmetic plastic surgery options, like fat transfer breast augmentation, that may be able to help. If you are interested in reconstructive or cosmetic breast surgery, or if you would like to discuss what specific plastic surgery procedures might be best for you, please contact me, Dr. Philip Beegle and schedule an appointment for a full consultation.