Dr. Leo Lapuerta
Dr. Leo Lapuerta

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Cosmetic Surgery for Poland Syndrome

Dr. Lapuerta in Houston, Texas, is now offering a plastic surgery procedure to repair the chest deformities of an unusual congenital condition. If you or a loved one is suffering from this condition, please contact us to set up a
cosmetic surgery consultation.

Poland Syndrome is a puzzling condition that starts before birth. It consists of deficient muscle and subcutaneous (under the skin) fat on one side of the body, usually the right side. There are conflicting claims as to whether it affects males more often than females.

Sir Alfred Poland

Its name is unrelated to the country of that name. It’s named for Sir Alfred Poland, an English surgeon who first noticed and described it in 1841, when he was still in medical school. Although he did not do this alone, he was a unique and colorful individual, so his name has remained attached to the condition.

Nobody knows exactly how often it occurs, but we do know it’s infrequent. According to the Poland Syndrome website estimates of its frequency range between one in 10,000 births at the high end, and one in 100,000 births at the low end.

How it starts (perhaps)

While its cause is not established, it appears to start when there’s a disruption in blood flow (the sub-clavian artery) during the sixth week of gestation. Reduced blood supply interferes with the development of the chest and arm areas. When the artery is blocked closer to the heart, the resulting condition is more severe. When the artery is blocked in slightly different areas, related syndromes can result, namely, Mobius syndrome and Klippel-feil syndrome.


Poland Syndrome is a little different in each individual. It causes relatively mild disability as far as everyday functioning is concerned, so that many people come for treatment well into adulthood. It does not affect the intelligence.

There are two definitive symptoms:

  1. Part of the chest muscles are missing – the pectorals (part of the major pec and all of the minor pec)
  2. The breast or nipple is underdeveloped

In addition, other symptoms may be present:

  • Neighboring muscle tissue may be missing, such as from rib muscle (serratus) and back muscle (latissimus dorsi, which you can feel if you extend your arms out sideways and rotate them)
  • There may be missing ribs
  • The shoulder bone (scapula) is small and elevated
  • The arm and hand are underdeveloped
  • The fingers on that side may be shortened and webbed
  • Underarm hair may be irregularly missing

It can be mild or severe, and mild cases may often go undiagnosed, at least until the adult comes to get treatment. More severe cases are often diagnosed at birth or soon afterwards. Chest X-rays and a CT scan can help in identifying which muscle tissue is affected.

Reconstructive surgery

Dr. Lapuerta can examine a person with Poland Syndrome to assess surgical options. Quite often the breast and nipple can be reconstructed and the chest muscles can be rebuilt from chest muscle on the unaffected side, or from muscle tissue taken elsewhere on the body. In some cases, artificial cartilage can be implanted to correct the chest shape.

Treatment can be done earlier for males, as early as 13 years of age, but in females, Dr. Lapuerta would wait until the breast development stage was finished. Then a silicon gel or saline breast implant can create breast symmetry.

Dr. Lapuerta’s office in Houston, Texas, offers both reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgery. He has a highly-trained professional team that is dedicated to helping you achieve your goals. If you or someone you love has Poland Syndrome, please contact us for a free reconstructive surgery consultation.