Poland Syndrome Explained

5 Mar 2021

Poland Syndrome Explained

What Is Poland Syndrome?

Poland Syndrome is a disorder that causes people to be born with missing or underdeveloped muscles on one side of the body. This disorder usually impacts the chest, shoulder, arm, and hand. People with this disorder tend to have a missing part of their pectoralis major, a vital chest muscle. In most cases, this missing muscle goes from the upper arm to the breastbone, which is why the arm and shoulders are also affected. This missing muscle can lead to shorter ribs, breast abnormalities, and underdeveloped chest wall muscles.

treating Poland syndrome

The hands are another part of the body that Poland syndrome can impact. The hand on the affected side of the body can appear webbed, have shorter fingers, and even have fingers that are fused. Depending on the severity of the condition, some people can have difficulty using their affected hand. The main visual impact of this disorder would be that one side of the body appears shorter than the other, creating noticeable asymmetry. While these visual differences become more evident when an individual with this disorder hits puberty, some have such symptoms present since birth.

Who Discovered Poland Syndrome?

Dr. Alfred Poland, a medical student, was dissecting a cadaver when he noticed some unexplainable deformities. After sketching and writing a report on his findings, Dr. Poland concluded that this unusual abnormality was caused by the underdevelopment of the chest wall and the pectoralis major muscle. Since Poland discovered this disorder in 1841, it was named after him and is now known as Poland Syndrome.


 While the direct causes of this syndrome are unknown, most researchers have linked it with disruption of blood flow that occurs during the development phase of a fetus before birth. Researchers also believe this disruption tends to occur during the sixth week of the development of an embryo. Since the blood vessels that enable the chest wall and chest muscles to form are impacted by this disruption, visual and physical symptoms appear. Additionally, some rare cases of Poland Syndrome have also been linked to genetic changes being passed down from families. However, no related gene of this sort has ever been identified.

Signs And Symptoms

Some common symptoms of this disorder include:

  • The absence of some of the chest muscles

  • The end of the primary chest muscle that attaches to the breast bone is missing

  • The breast and nipple are underdeveloped or missing

  • Very short or webbed fingers

  • Armpit hair is missing

  • The skin in the affected areas is underdeveloped and has a thin subcutaneous fat layer

  • The upper rib cage is underdeveloped or missing

  • Rare issues with the kidney and spine

How Do You Treat It?

Since, in most cases, the effects of this syndrome tend to be visual rather than physical, reconstruction surgeries tend to be a standard treatment for this syndrome. Still, getting surgical therapies will not only improve an individual’s visual appearance, but they will also improve body functionality.  Plastic surgery that involves rebuilding the chest wall and placing the ribs in their proper places also tends to be a standard form of treatment. Most often, men can treat Poland Syndrome with a silicone pectoral implant to increase volume in the chest.

Pec implants

For females, breast reconstruction surgeries can also be performed since it is one of the main affected areas. Various surgical options can be used to treat Poland syndrome; however, these options differ from person to person depending on the severity of the condition and the areas of the body that are impacted.

BodyBanking and Fat Transfer

One specific surgical treatment for Poland Syndrome is BodyBanking. This form of plastic surgery was developed by Dr. Douglas Steinbrech. It involves transferring fat from one part of the body to another, which needs more. In this case, the targeted area would most likely be the chest region, as the muscles there are most impacted by the syndrome.

Male Poland Syndrome Before and After

Transferring more fat in the chest areas that are missing or underdeveloped due to this disorder allows the body to appear more proportionate and symmetrical. Since body fat is a natural filler without any severe side effects, BodyBanking can be one of the most convenient forms of surgery for treating Poland syndrome.

Male Plastic Surgery treats patients at all three locations in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.


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