What is Poland Syndrome?
Poland Syndrome gets its name from British surgeon Alfred Poland who first described the condition in 1841. It is a rare disorder where individuals have underdeveloped muscles on one side of the body. This can affect the chest, arms, hands and shoulder, but is most common in the chest, known as the pectoral muscle. People who have Poland Syndrome will be able to see a clear asymmetry in their chest. These symptoms often become more prominent during adolescence.
Many people with Poland Syndrome will have other abnormalities, particularly on their hands, and will have short fingers, underdeveloped fingers or fingers that are fused together.
Poland Syndrome occurs in 1 in 20,000 births and occurs twice as often in males than in females. However, Poland Syndrome is potentially underdiagnosed, as those who do not have other abnormalities, such as those in their hands, may not seek medical attention, and it will not be noticeable at birth.
Currently, there is no known cause of Poland Syndrome. It is not hereditary, as the condition can occur in people with no family history. It is thought it may be caused by problems with the blood flow during the development prior to birth.
Can I have surgery?
Poland Syndrome often has a negative impact on a person’s self-image and confidence levels. If this is a problem, surgery is an appropriate solution.
However, it is important to note that the recommended age for surgery differs between boys and girls. Girls are encouraged to wait until their breasts are fully developed, while boys can have the procedure from 13 years old.
What does surgery involve?
Surgery for Poland Syndrome is non-invasive and involves a custom-made 3D implant made of high tech polymerised silicone. During the initial consultation, you will be examined and measured so the surgeon is able to make the 3D implant.
The surgery should take approximately one hour, however, more complex cases may take around two hours. The surgery will be performed under general anaesthetic and involves the surgeon filling the missing muscle with the implant.
You will be required to be hospitalised for three days after the procedure. After this time, you will be allowed to go home, but will have 15 days sick leave. Intense physical activity and participation in sports is not allowed for three months.
You will need to wear a surgical dressing for about one week, and then have a follow-up meeting with your surgeon. The stitches used will be dissolvable.