Symmastia ‘Uniboob’ the little-known medical condition

By Professor Marcos Sforza, Expert Aesthetic Surgeon and Scientific Director, MyAesthetics MyBreast

Former Geordie Shore star Charlotte Crosby suffered from a medical condition called congenital symmastia – she admitted that she compared herself to other girls, leading her to undergo surgery to correct her ‘uniboob’.

What is symmastia?

Symmastia is a rare condition that occurs when the chest skin lifts off the sternum/breastbone and there is no separation between the breasts.

What is Congenital Symmastia?

Congenital symmastia means you were born with this rare condition of no separation between the breasts.

What is Iatrogenic Symmastia?

Iatrogenic symmastia differs from congenital symmastia in that it is caused by a medical treatment, procedure or operation where the skin and muscle tissue becomes released from the sternum through dissection.

What Causes Symmastia?

In some cases, symmastia is congenital (meaning someone can be born with the condition).

However, according to the Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), symmastia is listed as a ‘rare disease’. This means it is a condition that affects less than 200,000 people.

Symmastia can occur due to a host of factors arising from incorrectly performed cosmetic surgery procedures. These include an accidental over-dissection of the pectoral muscle in the middle of the chest when implants are placed beneath the muscle in an effort to create a fuller cleavage.

In addition, symmastia can arise with implants placed above the muscle in what’s referred to as the sub glandular position. When this happens, the cause is either surgical error or it can be a result of stretching of the skin and breast tissue over time.

If symmastia occurs shortly after surgery (typically within a period of days or weeks), it is most likely to be a result of surgical errors.

Symmastia repair

Although symmastia can be surgically corrected with uneven breasts surgery, it can be expensive and difficult for surgeons to tackle, especially if it means you are correcting someone else’s mistake.

If implants are placed above the muscle, a symmastia repair typically entails moving implants into the submuscular position. This will create a new pocket for the breast implant.

Where breast implants are placed beneath the muscle, the first option is to move the implants into the sub glandular position. The alternative option is to keep the implants in the original submuscular position while simultaneously repairing the cleavage area with skin fixation.

In this scenario, a portion of the implant capsule is used to anchor the muscles and tissues in the breasts, so they can be sutured to the sternum. However, in other cases, soft tissue grafts are used instead.

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Symmastia repair recovery

Patients who have undergone symmastia repair surgery are likely to be given a specially-adapted compression bra to wear to help support the cleavage area. It also applies pressure which accelerates the healing process.

Most surgeons will recommend restricted physical activity when recovering from symmastia surgery. This is even more likely if implants were placed beneath the muscle.

In the very early stages of your recovery period, it is vital that you don’t exert too much pressure on these muscles as you want to avoid them lifting off the sternum again. However, should this worst-case scenario happen, there is no other alternative than to repair the damage by opting for additional corrective surgery.

Research your clinic in advance of any cosmetic procedures

When symmastia occurs due to surgical errors, this highlights the importance of research so you know you are choosing a safe and reputable clinic prior to your cosmetic procedure.

The best cosmetic surgery providers are continuing to develop innovative methods, ensuring the industry is always on top of the very latest surgical requirements. The wide array of options available, especially for corrective surgery, are generating more interest amongst potential patients, but with greater volume comes, in some cases, greater risk.

Patients must have an open and understanding relationship with their surgeon to ensure their expectations are realistic and that optimal results are achieved for the individual. It’s important not to be swayed by offers or deals. Research the treatment and read reviews to make sure you pick the right practice for you.

Most importantly of all, your surgery should only be performed by a fully-accredited plastic surgeon who is a member of the main representative bodies for maintaining industry standards such as BAAPS, BAPRAS or ISAPS.

At MyBreast, we have a team of highly qualified industry professionals whose years of clinical and teaching experience enable us to provide expert cosmetic surgery guidance from the more standard procedures, to advanced corrective or reconstructive surgery.