Gynecomastia, or excess development of breast tissue, occurs in as many as 40 – 60% of men. The cause is not always known, but the incidence increases with certain drugs (digitalis, anabolic steroids, Tagamet, and spironolactone), use of marijuana or alcohol, and obesity. This condition can cause extreme embarrassment, social inhibition and self-consciousness for boys and men who suffer from it
If you think that you have this condition, you should consult with your physician to rule out a more serious condition such as liver or endocrine disease. If you are otherwise healthy, breast reduction surgery may significantly help your appearance and self-image. This procedure is used to remove fat and/or glandular tissue from the breasts. In extreme cases, skin is removed as well. The result is a flatter, firmer and more masculine-looking chest.
If you’re considering male breast reduction, the following information will provide you with a good introduction to the procedure. For more detailed information about how this procedure may help you, we recommend that you consult a plastic surgeon who is board certified or has completed a residency program that includes instruction in this procedure.
What some of the most common benefits male breast reduction?
This procedure can improve the appearance of the chest in cases where diet and exercise have failed. The results of the procedure are significant and permanent. Most men who have had surgery for gynecomastia have been very satisfied with the results.
What will happen at the initial consultation?
During the consultation, you and your surgeon will discuss the changes that you would like to make in your appearance. Your surgeon will explain the different options available. He/she will discuss the procedure in detail, explain the risks and limitations, and explain the type of anesthesia that will be used.
The surgeon will then examine photographs of your chest for reference during surgery and afterwards. He/she may also require you to have a mammogram (breast x-ray).
Be sure to ask all the questions you have about the surgery, and ask to see photos of the doctor’s recent patients, before and after surgery. Also ask for, and follow up on, patient references. Learning everything you can about your options, risks and benefits is the key to making an informed decision. See Questions to ask your doctor below.
Note: Some insurance companies will pay for breast reduction if it’s considered medically necessary. However, be aware that they may have specific requirements such as a letter from your surgeon, a referral from your general practitioner, and/or photos or other documentation. Be sure to find out what your insurance company requires if you intend to use insurance to pay for this surgery.
How long does the surgery take?
Generally, the procedure usually takes 2 hours.
Do I have to stay in the hospital?
This procedure can be done in our outpatient surgery center. We perform our breast reductions under local anesthesia (like that used by dentists) combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You’ll be awake but relaxed, and although you may feel some tugging and mild discomfort, you won’t feel any pain. You may be allowed to return home within a few hours of the surgery, and spend the night in the comfort of your own home.
How much pain is there?
Depending on the extent of surgery, pain can vary from minimal to moderate, and will last for 2 – 3 days.
What can I expect after surgery?
Usually, the chest is temporarily swollen and bruised after the surgery. You may also experience numbness or a burning sensation. You will probably be given a compression garment to wear for several weeks after the surgery.
If you have severe pain or discharge in the surgical area, or if you experience muscle aches, dizziness or a general ill feeling with fever, nausea or vomiting, you should call your doctor immediately.
What is the recovery period like?
Light activities can be resumed within a few days, although your chest will be sore. Most people are able to return to (sedentary) work within three to seven days, and resume more strenuous activities in two to three weeks. You should avoid exposing the operated area to the sun for at least six months to prevent permanently altering the skin pigmentation.
Routine physical activity and exercising (especially lifting, pulling and pushing motions) should be avoided for at least 6 weeks. This will help the scars to heal. Your doctor will advise you on the level of physical activity that is appropriate for you. Some degree of swelling and bruising may last for 3 to 6 months.
Recovery time and privacy needs varies from person to person. If you are not too concerned if people are aware that you have recently had surgery, you may be able to return to light activities earlier.
What is the long-term outcome like for most people?
After healing, most men are very happy with the results.
How long do the results last?
The improvement from this procedure is permanent, but weight gain or use of certain drugs could result in recurrence.
In general, the best candidates for breast reduction are:
- Mature enough to fully understand the procedure
- Experiencing embarrassment and/or social inhibition due to breast enlargement
- Knowledgeable about the procedure
- Having good skin elasticity
- In good physical and psychological health
- Wanting to improve their appearance and/or comfort
- Realistic in their expectations
- Willing to attempt diet and exercise as first options
- Non-smokers or able to stop smoking during the healing process
- Not using marijuana or anabolic steroids
- Not heavy user of alcohol
The above is only a partial list of the criteria that your surgeon will consider in determining whether or not this procedure is appropriate for you. Be sure to ask your surgeon if he / she considers you an ideal candidate for this surgery.
In teenagers, it is best to wait for at least one year to see if the condition resolves spontaneously.
In all candidates, discontinuing alcohol, marijuana or anabolic steroids may resolve the problem without surgery.
All surgery has some potential risks, including the risks of bleeding, reaction to the anesthetic, and infection. In this surgery, serious complications are quite rare. Other risks include:
- Rippling of the skin
- Excessive scarring
- Altered sensation of the nipples
- Insufficient tissue removed
Like all body contouring surgery, it is possible that either too much or too little tissue can be removed. In these cases, a second procedure may be necessary.
Choosing a doctor:
It is very important that you select a physician adequately trained and experienced in breast reduction procedures using the Tumescent technique and local anesthesia in a same day surgery center. Avoid surgeons who use old techniques resulting in ugly scars.
Be sure to:
Tell your doctor about any allergies you have (to foods, drugs, environmental elements).
Tell your doctor about all medications, herbal supplements or natural supplements you are taking (both prescription and non-prescription).
Carefully follow any instructions your surgeon gives you regarding eating and drinking, smoking, and vitamins.
Avoid aspirin and aspirin-containing medicines for two weeks prior to surgery.
Arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery.