Gynecomastia is a condition of over-developed or enlarged breasts in men that can occur at any age. The condition can be the result of hormonal changes, heredity, obesity, or the use of certain drugs. It is a condition far more prevalent than many realize affecting an estimated 40-60 percent of the male population, particularly in teens and then later generations. Oversized breasts in men can cause emotional discomfort and impair self-confidence. Some men may even avoid certain physical activities and intimacy simply to hide their condition.
Gynecomastia is characterized by:
- Excess localized fat behind the nipple
- Excess glandular tissue development over the pectoralis muscle
- Sometimes excess breast skin
- Presence unilaterally (one breast) or bilaterally (both breasts)
What Can I Expect from Male Breast Reduction Surgery?
Male breast reduction surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis. The surgery typically takes one to three hours, depending on the size of the male breast to be altered. Several techniques can be utilized in male breast reduction, depending on the extent of the condition and the amount of loose, extra skin that may need to be removed.
If the enlarged breasts are primarily caused by excessive fatty tissue, liposuction can be performed through tiny incisions to remove the excess fat. Because the density of the fat and the fibrous connections within the male breast are usually quite high, laser assisted liposuction (SmartLipo) can be very effective in breaking up this tough, fibrous tissue prior to removal. This laser technology has changed the way gynecomastia surgery is traditionally done!
The incision may be made around the edge of the areola (the area around the nipple) or in the underarm, or on the side or bottom of the chest. If excess glandular tissue is the primary cause of the enlarged breast, the tissue may be excised, or cut out, in addition to liposuction.
In more extreme instances with large amounts of fat or glandular tissue requiring removal, excess skin may have to be removed as well, because on its own, the loose skin won’t shrink down or contour well to the new shape . The incisions are then closed using sutures and are covered with a dressing. The chest may be wrapped to keep the skin firmly in place. Occasionally, drains are required and are removed in the office within 5-7 days of your procedure. Your surgeon will help you choose the best procedure, and discuss the pros and cons of each, to help you achieve the outcome you are expecting.
How Long Will It Take Me to Recover?
Following male breast reduction surgery, patients may experience some bruising, swelling, and discomfort. This discomfort usually dissipates after a few days and is reduced with prescribed medication.
To help reduce swelling, an elastic pressure (compression) garment is fitted to your size and should be worn for about two weeks, and at night for several weeks later. Swelling and any skin discoloration will partially subside after a week or two, at which time stitches will be removed.
You will be encouraged to walk around on the day of your male breast reduction surgery and can expect to return to work in approximately one week depending on the physical demands and amount of lifting in your job. You may also begin light aerobic exercise after a week, but you should avoid strenuous activities for about three to four weeks following surgery. Chest specific exercises may be re-started about 4-5 weeks after surgery, depending on each individual’s healing time.
Dr. Birchenough will see you in the clinic on a regular basis after surgery to ensure you are healing well, and to guide your return to normal activities based on your personal situation.