Poland Syndrome

Conveniently located to serve the areas of Lake Forest and Chicago, IL

Poland Syndrome, Breasts, Dr. Michael Howard, Chicago, Glenview, Lake Forest

Poland Syndrome is a medical condition in which a person is born with completely missing or severely underdeveloped chest muscles on one side of the body. This often leads to disruption in breast development causing noticeable asymmetry, or can even cause the lack of one nipple-areola complex. This can be very distressing for patients, especially during adolescence. 

There are two main types of plastic surgery performed to correct breast asymmetry for these patients: 

  • Implant-based breast reconstruction
  • Natural (flap) breast reconstruction

Dr. Michael Howard is one of the few surgeons in the country who specializes in breast microsurgery and reconstruction. A board-certified plastic surgeon who is highly trained in both breast and body cosmetic medicine, Dr. Howard performs each procedure with great care and precision. He encourages patients with Poland Syndrome to schedule a private consultation at his Illinois offices by calling (224) 271-4250. He has locations in Chicago, Glenview, and Lake Forest, IL. You may also fill out this convenient form today to explore your options.

All About Poland Syndrome

Poland Syndrome is a congenital condition where one side of the chest experiences a lack of development. This can affect both the breast tissue itself and the underlying muscles. It presents as asymmetry of the breasts and is often difficult to treat, especially if the pectoral muscles are stunted or not present. There are multiple different grades and types of underdevelopment with Poland Syndrome, leading to highly personalized treatment plans for each individual. (1)

How Do You Treat Poland Syndrome?

For many patients, the preferred treatment to correct asymmetries of the breast is reconstructive surgery. Depending on the severity of their condition, they may require excess tissue to create enough room to place a silicone implant. Those with ample space for expansion may opt for a more traditional breast augmentation. Dr. Howard closely examines the treatment area to determine the right surgical approach for you. 

As a specialist in reconstructive and cosmetic breast surgery, Dr. Howard is well-equipped to create the right procedure plan to correct asymmetry and improve your overall body image. There are many options to choose from, including natural tissue replacement and breast augmentation surgeries. Both options offer different benefits and have specific downsides, so it is important to carefully weigh your options with Dr. Howard during a private consultation.

Breast Enhancement Surgery

Also known as breast augmentation, breast enhancement surgery is a popular procedure in which Dr. Howard places silicone implants under the breast tissue to enhance the shape and size of your chest. Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for breast implants if you have the proper amount of natural tissue or a more unilaterally developed pectoral muscle. 

During a breast augmentation procedure, Dr. Howard carefully opens the breast with incisions either around the areola, under the breast crease, or through the armpit. He then creates an implant pocket. It is at this point that this procedure may look much different for those with Poland Syndrome because of the nature of the condition. If there is ample breast tissue to support a silicone implant, a breast augmentation may be the right choice for you to restore your chest contour.

Breast Reconstructive Surgery

Dr. Howard performs many natural breast reconstructive surgeries for his Chicago patients. DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap breast reconstruction uses excess tissue from your abdomen to restore breast volume and shape. For those with Poland Syndrome, this procedure restores missing breast tissue without the use of implants

He starts the procedure by removing a small amount of tissue from your lower abdomen using a surgery similar to a tummy tuck. He carefully removes living tissue along the bikini line and places it on the chest to recreate a breast that is symmetrical to the other. To do this, he works around the important deep inferior epigastric perforator artery located in the lower abdomen to harvest tissue. This ensures the tissue will continue to live higher up on the chest. He implements microsurgery techniques to move and reattach blood vessels and nerves, creating breasts that look and feel like the original tissue. This method is also typically performed after mastectomies for patients suffering from breast cancer. (1)

Benefits of Poland Syndrome Treatment

This condition typically causes patients extreme psychological distress and issues with self-esteem. It is also observed that many patients do not get diagnosed right at birth, but typically are during adolescence. Poland Syndrome is also associated with rib cage deformities and hand anomalies as well as breast hypoplasia. (2)

Treatment benefits for patients include:

  • Correcting asymmetries
  • Muscle/tissue recreation
  • Nipple-areola complex recreation
  • Use of natural, autologous tissues
  • Easing social distress
  • Improving overall body contour 
  • Increasing body comfortability
  • Improving self-image and confidence

Dr. Howard creates each procedure plan to match the needs of each patient, making the process highly customizable. He uses his extensive experience to observe your medical condition and plan accordingly. 

Ideal Candidates

Patients with Poland Syndrome can present with underdeveloped breast tissue, muscle weakness, and hand or arm abnormalities. This leads to a stark difference in breast size and shape, as well as other related symptoms. To qualify for treatment, you must be in good overall health with no underlying medical conditions that interfere with healing. You must also have reasonable and achievable expectations to receive breast surgery. 

Since this condition causes emotional distress and self-image issues, it is important to be completely candid about your cosmetic goals. Those who smoke tobacco and nicotine must quit for at least one month before their procedure date. If you do not have a diagnosis, but suspect the presence of Poland Syndrome, Dr. Howard may perform an ultrasound to determine both your health and condition status.

Initial Consultation with Dr. Howard

You will meet with Dr. Howard for a private consultation to talk about your treatment options. During this appointment, he will ask about your current medical conditions and related symptoms to determine your candidacy. Next, he will examine the treatment area thoroughly before creating your procedure plan. You will have plenty of time to ask questions and voice your concerns during this meeting. He will then explain in detail his surgical approaches and what your perceived outcome will be to best prepare you. At the end of this consultation, a member of Dr. Howard’s staff will assist you in scheduling your next appointment.

How Do I Prepare for Breast Surgery?

Please avoid anti-inflammatories like aspirin and ibuprofen to prevent excess bleeding before your procedure. It is also important to limit your alcohol consumption and stop all tobacco and nicotine use. Dr. Howard requires you to avoid certain herbal supplements like vitamin E and ginseng. He may also alter your daily medications to prevent complications.

You must also arrange a ride to and from our surgical facility. Breast surgery typically requires the use of general anesthesia, so you will not be able to transport yourself. Please prepare your home for recovery by creating a comfortable space and easy-to-prepare meals. Schedule time off of work and pick up your prescriptions beforehand to ensure your downtime is spent resting.


The typical downtime for a breast augmentation is six to eight weeks. Your breasts will sit much higher in the weeks following your procedure, but settle with time. For DIEP flap breast reconstruction, the downtime is often longer because of the nature of the surgery. You will experience some swelling and bruising no matter the chosen approach, but this will subside as you heal. Dr. Howard provides a compression garment to be worn at all times for the first month or longer depending on the patient.

It is important to take as much time as you need to rest for an optimal recovery. Remember to go on short and gentle walks to keep your blood flow optimal and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. To curb discomfort, take any prescription medications exactly as directed and do not drive a vehicle until completely finished with them. 


Poland Syndrome, Breasts, Dr. Michael Howard, Chicago, Glenview, Lake Forest

As your breasts settle into their new position, your chest contour evens out and begins to look more natural. Your new chest contour will improve your overall physique and self confidence, allowing you to get back to living your life more comfortably. If receiving silicone implants, these may need replacing later on with a secondary surgery. DIEP flap breast reconstruction does not typically require reoperation and results can last a lifetime. Be sure to receive consistent breast exams after recovery to ensure everything is healing properly. This is especially essential if implants are placed.

How Much Does Poland Syndrome Treatment Cost in Chicago?

Because of the customized nature of the treatment, each patient’s total cost varies. Dr. Howard meticulously creates each procedure plan to fit the individual’s needs. He explains the estimated price breakdown during the initial consultation.

Schedule your first appointment with him today by calling (224) 271-4250 or filling out this online form. You may also visit one of his locations in Chicago, Glenview, or Lake Forest, IL to take the first step toward your dream chest.

For those curious about breast reconstructive surgery, or other cosmetic procedures typically performed by Dr. Howard, please follow our blog for more information.


  1. Mahrhofer M, Schoeller T, Casari M, Bachleitner K, Weitgasser L. Development of A Surgical Treatment Algorithm for Breast Reconstruction in Poland Syndrome Patients Considering Severity, Sex, and BMI. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2021;10(19):4515. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10194515
  2. Baldelli I, Gallo F, Crimi M, et al. Experiences of Patients with Poland Syndrome of Diagnosis and Care in Italy: a Pilot Survey. Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases. 2019;14(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1186/s13023-019-1253-8