Around 20,000 American men undergo breast reduction surgery annually according to American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports. It is among the 10 most popular male cosmetic surgical procedures. Today we are answering all the questions you might have regarding male breast reduction and providing you with the ultimate guide on your gynecomastia journey.
What Is Breast Reduction For Men?
Breast reduction in a man is the best treatment for a condition called gynecomastia which causes men to have enlarged breasts. This condition can create emotional distress and self-confidence issues causing men to evade intimacy and physical activities to avoid feelings of embarrassment. Cosmetic surgery called gynecomastia surgery can remove excess tissue and fat to reveal a contoured more masculine chest.
What Is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is the medical term used to describe enlarged breasts or overdeveloped breasts in a man. It is often referred to as “man boobs”. It is caused by an imbalance between testosterone and estrogen stimulating the production of excess glandular tissue in the pectoral area creating breasts. The condition can occur in both breasts or only in one breast causing the chest to be asymmetrical.
Statistics published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) indicate that approximately 70% of boys going through puberty experience the condition and many, but not all, outgrow it as part of maturing. However, gynecomastia can develop in older men; it currently affects around 65% of men who are middle-aged or older.
What Causes Gynecomastia?
Experts do not know the exact cause of gynecomastia but the most commonly known association of gynecomastia is in adolescent males going through puberty due to the hormone fluctuations that naturally occur during this time. Occurrence can also be attributed to genetic disposition, excess weight gain, as a side effect of medication, a medical condition, alcohol, or recreational/illegal drugs such as marijuana and methamphetamines.
Can Gynecomastia Be Prevented?
Gynecomastia caused by genetics would not be avoidable even if the individual maintained a healthy lifestyle and hit the gym every day. In some instances of obesity or as direct results of medication, alcohol, or drugs, it may have been something that could have been prevented if early intervention was sought and implemented.
Will “Man Boobs” Go Away If I Lose Weight?
If excess fat in the breast area of a man is a result of a sedentary individual being overweight, then diet and exercise may reduce the area to the point of looking normally proportioned.
Can Gynecomastia Be Treated Without Surgery?
If the condition resulted due to other reasons such as genetics or the issue has been present since puberty, surgery will most likely be needed to correct it. For some of our patients, we offer an alternative minimally invasive gynecomastia treatment – BodyTite™. Consult with Dr. Angelina to check if you are an eligible candidate.
What Are The Treatment Options For Removing Man Boobs?
There are currently two main options for treating gynecomastia and the treatment chosen will depend on the severity of the situation. Liposuction can often be used to create a masculine and normally proportionate chest or surgical excision surgery can be used for more complicated cases.
Liposuction For Male Breast Reduction
If the tissue targeted for removal to correct a man’s gynecomastia is mostly soft, fatty tissue then the least invasive way to remove it may be through liposuction. The procedure can be performed with the assistance of ultrasound through small incisions near the bottom edge of the areola, the lower portion of the chest, or the armpit to keep visible scarring to a minimum. This technique uses ultrasonic vibrations to strategically target and break up the excess fat to loosen it while avoiding damage to surrounding tissues. The fat is then suctioned out and removed through a small hollow tube called a cannula. Ultrasonic liposuction is an excellent technique to contour and sculpt the chest area providing firmness and optimal results.
Direct Excision Surgery For Male Breast Reduction
More acute cases or gynecomastia that are caused by an excess of skin or glandular tissue are normally treated through excision surgery. This would also be the best procedure if there is sagging, stretched, or excess skin that needs to be tightened or reshaped. It is also possible to re-position or reshape the nipples if needed to achieve a more natural or symmetrical appearance.
The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and is normally an outpatient procedure. The surgeon will make incisions typically located inside the chest’s natural creases or close to the edge of the areola and remove the excess tissue, and then tighten and possibly remove excess skin. The length, number, and location of the incisions will be directly related to how much surgery is required. In certain cases, to obtain optimal results, both surgical excision and liposuction are combined.
Who Is a Candidate For Male Breast Reduction Surgery?
- Men who are overall physically healthy;
- Men who are close to their ideal weight for their frame;
- Men who do not have severe medical conditions;
- Men who do not smoke or use recreational drugs;
- Men who have realistic expectations of surgery results;
- Men who are self-conscious about the size of their breasts.
What Is The Recovery Length For Male Breast Reduction?
The aftercare and recovery length will vary depending on the surgery performed and individual case.
Gynecomastia Liposuction Recovery
Recovery after liposuction typically has a relatively short recovery period. Feeling discomfort for the first week is normal but typically can be controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers. The patient will be required to wear a medical compression garment after the procedure which is specifically designed to help reduce bruising, swelling, fluid retention, and discomfort by keeping an even amount of pressure on the treatment area. This garment is normally worn 24/7 initially and then at reduced intervals via the surgeon’s direction. Many men can return to non-labor intensive jobs within a few days. Most individuals notice an immediate improvement after gynecomastia liposuction but full results may take a few months.
Direct Excision Surgery Recovery
This recovery is more invasive with a typical recovery time of around six weeks. Following surgery, the patient will be bandaged and may have a surgical drain to help eliminate any excess fluids. Some patients may have side effects from the general or local anesthesia used during the procedure. General anesthesia can cause nausea or vomiting and some local anesthetics can cause long-term numbness that can last up to 4 days.
Moderate pain is experienced by most patients after surgical excision for the first several days and will vary by individual depending on the extent of the surgery. The surgeon may prescribe some prescription pain medication to use these first few days to alleviate pain and tenderness in the chest area after which over-the-counter medications should be sufficient.
The patient will also be instructed to wear a compression garment to help aid in the recovery process. Specific instructions will be given to each patient based on their care requirements including aftercare of incision sites, drains, signs of infection to watch out for, showering instructions, sleeping, and activity levels, etc.
Most patients notice an immediate improvement despite any bruising or swelling that may be present. As time goes on, the swelling and bruising will dissipate and the results of the surgery will be very noticeable. Normally recovery time is between 4-6 weeks and men can resume their normal activities after being cleared by the surgeon.
Will I Experience Any Loss Of Sensitivity In My Nipples After Surgery?
Some patients experience a loss of sensation in the surgical areas but in most cases, it is only temporary. Typically the sensitivity is restored gradually over a period of time which can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
What Can I Do To Speed Up My Gynecomastia Surgery Recovery?
- Have someone help care for you for at least the first 24 hours after the procedure.
- Plan in advance for any groceries, personal care items, pain medications, etc. that you will need during your recovery and have them on hand before your procedure.
- Make arrangements for any pets/animals that may need care during your recovery. For example, you will not be in any condition to walk a big dog for a while after surgery,
- Follow all post-surgery directions given to you by the surgeon.
- Always wear your compression garments as instructed as this is an integral part of your recovery and final results.
- Get as much sleep as you can especially the first week after surgery.
- Eat a healthy diet and supplement with vitamins to help aid in a quick recovery. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin.
- B-12 all work to assist our bodies’ natural healing ability.
- Drink at least 64 oz of water a day.
- Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing during the first few weeks of recovery. Itching can be caused by the natural healing process so avoiding tight-fitting clothing will help prevent aggravating this so you will not scratch the healing areas.
- Do not try to resume any intensive physical activity until you are cleared by your surgeon. When you do begin to increase your activity do so gradually and do not push yourself too hard too soon.
What Risks Are Involved With Gynecomastia Surgery?
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved. Some of the risks of gynecomastia surgery may include:
- Risks associated with anesthesia use;
- Bleeding and blood clots;
- Chest asymmetry, contour, or shape anomalies;
- Changes in nipple sensitivity;
- Fat necrosis;
- Damage to nerves, blood vessels, muscles, or lungs;
How Much Does Gynecomastia Surgery Cost?
The cost of gynecomastia surgery varies depending on the extent of surgery needed and the technique used. A consultation with your plastic surgeon can provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision. Ensure your surgeon is Board certified and do your homework when choosing who will perform your surgery.
How Long Do The Result Of Gynecomastia Surgery Last?
It is important that the initial cause of gynecomastia has been addressed and treated to ensure permanent results. For example, if the underlying cause was a hormone imbalance, this would need to be remedied. Also, long-lasting results can be expected with ongoing weight maintenance. An exercise routine and a healthy diet will help you maintain your results.
If you are self-conscious about the appearance of your chest, we are here to help. Schedule a consultation to learn about the options available to treat your individual situation.
Dr. Angelina Postoev, MD, FACS, a triple board certified plastic surgeon, and Christopher Ibikunle, MD, FACS offer gynecomastia surgery for men in Lawrenceville, Suwanee, Johns Creek, Buckhead, and the surrounding areas of Georgia.