Surgical treatment of symmastia: A systematic review of techniques, outcomes and complications

J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2021 Mar;74(3):449-462. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2020.08.138. Epub 2020 Sep 20.


Background: The term "symmastia" defines a confluence across the mid-sternal line of the breast mounds and subsequent loss of adhesion between sternum and pre-sternal skin. This condition can be congenital or, more frequently, iatrogenic. Despite the number of different treatments published in literature, no systematic review or surgical techniques classification has been attempted in literature. There is, therefore, a concrete need to elucidate surgical options and propose a treatment algorithm, improving surgical practice and patient's care.

Objective: This systematic review aims to collect and evaluate the published evidence on surgical procedures to correct symmastia deformities (both congenital and acquired) in order to clearly overview possible treatments and outcomes related to this surgery, providing a surgical classification guide as well.

Methods: In accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, PubMed database was queried for papers describing symmastia surgical treatment, along with operative indications, outcomes, and complications.

Results: In this review, 23 articles and 118 patients were finally included. Four main categories of treatment were identified: dermo-sternal adhesions, capsulorrhaphy, neopocket creation, and muscle repair. Symmastia correction was achieved and satisfactory in 108 of patients, despite varying techniques. Globally, recurrence was the most frequent complication, reported in the 8.5% of cases.

Conclusion: Symmastia represent a difficult condition to treat and recurrence is a common problem. Because of the low number of patients involved in the studies, it is difficult to make conclusions as to the superiority of one technique over another. However, this review, collecting comprehensively for the first time the surgical knowledge over this topic, could guide the surgeon to choose the best surgical treatment based on nowadays evidence.

Keywords: Breast; Reconstructive surgery; Symmastia; Techniques.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Breast Diseases* / etiology
  • Breast Diseases* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Mammaplasty / adverse effects*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures* / classification
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures* / methods
  • Postoperative Complications* / diagnosis
  • Postoperative Complications* / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications* / surgery
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation / statistics & numerical data

Supplementary concepts

  • Symmastia