What Is Symmastia?
While most patients do not experience complications after breast augmentation, unusual complications sometimes occur. One of these complications is known as symmastia. Though rare, symmastia is well understood and can usually be treated with breast revision surgery.
Symmastia is when the breasts are so close together that they seem to be joined as one rather than being two distinctly defined, separated structures. The breasts may appear to be joined in the middle, often with the skin tenting up, which is why symmastia is colloquially called a “uniboob.” With this situation, the implants can significantly overlie the sternum or even “touch” each other. You may also note that your nipples seem to rotate or point outwards to an abnormal degree.
This deformity can occur with implants of any size or style though it is far more common when disproportionately large breast implants are used. It can also be present with implants that are placed under or over the muscle.
The Cause of Symmastia
Most often, symmastia is the result of poor surgical technique and decision making. If your breast augmentation surgeon over-dissected your breast pockets medially (inner side), one or both implants may be situated too close to the center of the chest, allowing for this deformity to develop. Over-dissection of the breast pockets detaches the underlying tissues and skin from the sternum so that it merely drapes over the implants. Sometimes when a surgeon attempts to improve cleavage by moving the implants closer together, symmastia is the result. Women who are very thin or who have weaker tissues have a slightly greater risk of developing symmastia.
This risk is compounded by implants that are far too large for one’s anatomy or tissue type. These inappropriately selected implants can place tremendous stress on the tissues leading to tearing or severe stretching of structures that will result in symmastia developing.
You may reduce your risk of symmastia by being more discriminatory in selecting your breast augmentation surgeon. Though it is no guarantee, you should at least seek to have your surgery performed by a reputable board-certified plastic surgeon – one who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. There are countless physicians practicing cosmetic surgery, often marketing themselves as “cosmetic surgeons” or even plastic surgeons who are not true plastic surgeons.
If the surgeon you are considering has a reputation of making his patients very large in general, you may want to reconsider. Furthermore, if a high proportion of photos that this physician displays (such as online) are of extremely large breast augmentations – this can be another warning sign.
Wanting to be extremely large and disproportionate for what your body can bear does potentially place you at a greater risk for developing symmastia. Furthermore, if your breast surgeon is strongly recommending against going extremely large as you may desire, strongly heed these warnings.
Dr. Turkeltaub can help you make breast augmentation choices that will greatly minimize your risk of complications such as symmastia while still allowing you the opportunity to obtain beautiful results.
Correction With Breast Revision Surgery
Surgical correction of symmastia can be difficult and requires the hand of an experienced surgeon. Dr. Turkeltaub does perform breast revision surgery to correct symmastia and improve your aesthetic results. Depending on your specific situation, there are several options available in order to facilitate this. This can include such approaches as changing the implant pocket, selecting a substantially smaller implant size with a more appropriate configuration and even creating an “internal bra” using an acellular dermal matrix (ADM) to contain and support the breast implant(s) in the correct position so as to re-separate the breasts. What would be most appropriate for your situation will be discussed with you at the time of your consultation.
Dr. Turkeltaub is certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery and is a highly experienced breast augmentation and breast revision plastic surgeon including the treatment of symmastia. To schedule your personal consultation with Dr. Turkeltaub, call (480) 451-3000 or complete our online contact form today.