Gynecomastia is a medical term that comes from the Greek words for “woman-like breasts.” Though this oddly named condition is rarely talked about; it’s actually quite common. Gynecomastia affects an estimated 40 to 60 percent of men. It may affect only one breast or both. Though certain drugs and medical problems have been linked with male breast over-development, there is no known cause in the vast majority of cases. For men who feel self-conscious about their appearance, breast reduction surgery can help. The procedure removes fat and or glandular tissue from the breasts, and in extreme cases removes excess skin resulting in a chest that is flatter, firmer, and better contoured.
Surgery to correct gynecomastia can be performed on healthy, emotionally stable men of any age. The best candidates for surgery have firm, elastic skin that will re-shape to the body’s new contours. Anabolic steroids or the use of marijuana may cause gynecomastia; patients are first directed to stop the use of these drugs to see if the breast fullness will diminish before surgery is considered an option.
Planning Your Male Breast Reduction Surgery
Surgery for the correction of gynecomastia is relatively straightforward. But as with any operation, there are risks associated with surgery. There is always a possibility of complications including, bleeding, infection, or reaction to the anesthesia. Slow or poor wound healing is a factor, which is seen most often in patients that smoke. We recommend that our patients stop smoking for at least 2 weeks before and after surgery. You can reduce your risks by closely following our medical team’s advice both before and after surgery.
The Male Breast Reduction Surgery
Surgery for gynecomastia may be performed in our office-based surgical suite or a hospital. The surgery itself usually takes about an hour and a half to complete. However, more extensive procedures may take longer. Most often we use a local anesthetic and intravenous sedation (twilight sleep) to make you drowsy. Our medical staff will monitor your physical status throughout the surgery and during your recovery. If you and your surgeon select general anesthesia the surgery will be performed in a hospital setting.
The amount and consistency of the tissue is the determining factor in the approach used to remove the tissue. If your gynecomastia consists primarily of excessive fatty tissue, the physician will likely use liposuction to remove the excess fat. A small incision, less than a half-inch in length, is made in the underarm area. A slim hollow tube called a cannula attached to a vacuum pump is then inserted into the incision. Using strong, deliberate strokes, the surgeon moves the cannula through the layers beneath the skin, breaking up the fat and suctioning it out. If the glandular tissue is dense and fibrous, it will be excised, or cut out, with a scalpel. In a typical procedure, an incision is made in an inconspicuous location generally on the edge of the areola. Working through the incision, the surgeon cuts away the excess glandular tissue, fat, and skin from around the areola and from the sides and bottom of the breast. Major reductions that involve the removal of a significant amount of tissue and skin may require larger incisions that result in more conspicuous scars.
Sometimes, a small drain is inserted through a separate incision to draw off excess fluids. Once closed, the incisions are covered with a dressing. A compression garment (vest) is placed to provide optimal healing and to keep the skin firmly in place.
Be sure to ask if you are a candidate for ultrasaonic assisted liposuction…less recovery, discomfort and cost.
After Your Male Breast Reduction Surgery
After surgery, you will spend approximately one hour in the recovery area, if your surgery is done in our office you will be sent home, if it is done at a hospital you will go to the out-patient unit until you are ready to go home. Whether you’ve had excision with a scalpel or liposuction, you will feel some discomfort for a few days after surgery. However, discomfort can easily be controlled with medications prescribed by your surgeon.
You’ll be swollen and bruised for a while in fact, you may wonder if there’s been any improvement at all. To help reduce swelling, you’ll wear the compression vest continuously for a week or two and for a few weeks longer at night. Although the worst of your swelling will dissipate in the first few weeks, it may be three months or more before the final results of your surgery are apparent.
We advise you to avoid heavy exercise for about three weeks and to avoid any sport or job that risk a blow to the chest area for at least four weeks. In general, it will take about a month before you’re back to all of your normal activities. You should also avoid exposing the resulting scars to the sun for at least six months. Sunlight can permanently affect the skin’s pigmentation, causing the scar to turn dark. If sun exposure is unavoidable, use a strong sunblock.
Your New Look
Gynecomastia surgery can enhance your appearance and self-confidence, but it won’t necessarily change your looks to match your ideal. The results of the procedure are significant and permanent. If your expectations are realistic, chances are good that you’ll be very satisfied with your new look.