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What is symmastia? What are the common causes and treatment options?

Quick read

Symmastia is a condition where the breast tissue extends across the breastbone, giving the appearance of a single breast. It can occur naturally or as a result of breast augmentation surgery. While it is not a serious medical condition, it can be unsightly and cause discomfort. There are several options for treatment, depending on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, a simple breast augmentation procedure can be performed to correct the problem. In more severe cases, breast reconstruction may be necessary. Regardless of the approach, treatment for symmastia typically results in a significant improvement in appearance and quality of life.

Signs of symmastia

  • Fusion of breasts
  • Moving implants
  • Nipple rotation

What are the causes of symmastia?

Congenital symmastia

Congenital symmastia is a condition characterized by the fusion of the breasts. In cases of congenital symmastia, the breasts are fused together along the sternum, or breastbone. This can cause the breasts to appear to be one large breast, rather than two separate breasts. The exact cause of congenital symmastia is unknown, but it is believed to be a rare congenital defect. Treatment for the condition typically involves reconstructive surgery to separate the breasts and create natural-looking contours. In some cases, additional surgeries may be necessary to correct any nipple malformations or asymmetry. With proper treatment, patients with congenital symmastia can achieve normal breast anatomy and function.

Acquired symmastia

While symmastia is typically a congenital condition, it can also be acquired. Acquired symmastia is often the result of trauma from breast implant surgery. Acquired symmastia is characterized by the abnormalunion of the breasts. This can create a “uniboob” appearance and may be accompanied by pain. Treatment for acquired symmastia typically involves surgical correction to restore the normal positioning of the breasts.

Treatment: Symmastia repair surgery

Surgical procedures for symmastia are available and can help the sufferer correct their enlarged breasts. There are various procedures for symmastia repair, including implants and repositioning.

Symmastia surgery typically involves moving the breast implants into a submuscular or sub-glandular position. This creates a new pocket for the implant. The surgeon may also reinforce the edges of the implants with a dermal matrix product that contains collagen fibers. Another option is an internal bra procedure which involves utilizing sutures to reposition the breasts farther apart.

The surgical procedure for correcting symmastia requires a few months of recovery time. In some cases, it may require multiple surgeries to fix the problem completely.

Prevention

The most common method for preventing symmastia is to have your implants placed correctly. Subglandular implants are placed above the pectoral muscle and submuscular implants are placed under the pectoral muscle. When a patient has an implant placed underneath the muscle, it is not likely to move, but if the implant is misplaced or the wrong size, the muscles can push the implant around. This can result in symmastia. It is important to find a surgeon who is experienced in breast augmentation and minimizing the risk of symmastia.

Possible complications from symmastia correction surgery

It’s important to weight the benefits of this surgery to the potential risks. These possible complications could include:

  • Asymmetry
  • Contour irregularities
  • Scar tissue
Symmastia surgery before and after

Summary

A plastic surgeon will be able to perform an accurate diagnosis and suggest treatment options. Symmastia can be either mild or severe and can affect both cleavage and self-confidence. Surgery is available to correct this problem, but it’s important to note that any type of breast correction or plastic surgery carries risks, therefore prevention is always best whenever possible. If the condition is affecting your self-esteem and cleavage, you should consult with an experienced plastic surgeon to determine a treatment plan that will address your individual needs.

References

Familial congenital symmastia: ultrastructurally abnormal breast tissue (2009) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19995254/

Congenital Symmastia: A 3-Step Approach (2016) https://journals.lww.com/prsgo/fulltext/2016/12000/congenital_symmastia__a_3_step_approach.30.aspx

FAQ

How common is symmastia?

The condition known as symmastia is relatively rare, occurring in an estimated 1 in 100,000 breast augmentation patients. However, the exact incidence is difficult to determine because it often goes unreported.

Can symmastia be fixed without surgery?

Thankfully, there are a few nonsurgical treatments that can help to improve the appearance of symmastia. One option is to use special tape or bras to push the breasts apart. This can be tricky to do on your own, so it’s important to consult with a specialist before trying this method. Another option is to inject fat or filler into the area between the breasts to create more definition. This approach is often more successful than taping, but it can be expensive and may require multiple treatments. Ultimately, only a small percentage of people with symmastia opt for surgery, and there are plenty of nonsurgical options worth exploring.

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