Male Gynecomastia (male breast surgery) is a condition that occurs in men when a hormonal imbalance or certain drugs trigger unwanted breast tissue growth. This often gives the appearance of feminine breasts. Men with the condition often experience embarrassment and stigma when discussing this problem with family and friends.
Roughly two-thirds of boys will have enlarged or puffy breasts as they go through puberty, but the condition usually resolves itself with age. However, enlarged breasts can appear spontaneously in middle age, and that is a problem unlikely to go away on its own.
Male breast surgery is a procedure where a physician uses liposuction or a mastectomy to remove excess breast tissue, helping the male chest area appear more masculine.
Many men with gynecomastia begin to have trouble in school and with peers during puberty. Gynecomastia can make normal activities like swimming or changing in the locker room extremely stressful and humiliating. This condition during a boy’s formative years can have a life-long effect on a man’s psyche.
The fear of revealing enlarged breasts to a loved one can also lead to problems with relationships and intimacy. This is a more severe extension of the anxiety some men with gynecomastia feel when taking their shirts off in public. The inability of a man with gynecomastia to engage in relations with a partner can cause breakups and long-term isolation.
Men can also experience pain along with the cosmetic discomfort of enlarged breasts. This can prevent them from participating in sports, labor-intensive jobs, or interacting with children who may play rough and not know to be careful around sensitive areas.
Another reason for having surgery is that severe gynecomastia can slow or render invisible the progress of an exercise and weightlifting regimen.
As many as 25 percent of gynecomastia cases have no known cause, making it difficult for sufferers to find a solution to the frustrating condition. Fortunately, surgery can be the answer for many men.
Before you schedule your surgery, you will need to meet with our Medical Director Dr. Alvarez or one of his top surgeons at mia Aesthetics to go over your goals, candidacy, and more. It’s important you meet the surgeon in person to fully understand the procedure, learn if it’s the right option for you, and get to know the doctor. You should come to your consultation prepared with specific questions about the procedure, and don’t hesitate to express any concerns you may have.
A doctor can perform a physical exam and run tests to determine if a case of breast enlargement is not a sign of another, more serious problem. Sometimes, breast growth can be a sign of breast or testicular cancer. Other disorders, such as Klinefelter syndrome, which affects the endocrine system, can also cause unwanted enlargement of male breast tissue.
If a patient with gynecomastia is young, physicians may have him wait several years to see if the condition resolves on its own, as it often does during puberty.
Sometimes, gynecomastia is simply be a result of excess fat on the body (also known as pseudogynecomastia). Obesity can also cause male breasts to swell because of poor nutrition. Weight loss could reverse the symptoms entirely, but it is important to check with a physician to determine if this is the case.
Candidates for gynecomastia surgery should have realistic expectations, be in general good health, and consult with their surgeon before deciding whether gynecomastia surgery is the solution.
Male Breast Surgery Procedure
Typically, male breast surgery is done under a general anesthetic. Other medications are given to the patient prior to the procedure for comfort.
The procedure is not considered difficult or invasive and usually takes no more than two hours to complete. The surgery involves making discreet incisions to access the fatty tissue and breast glands & then remove unwanted tissue and contour the chest. The incisions are then closed with sutures.
If the enlarged tissue is due to a buildup of excess fatty tissue under the skin, the physician will first use liposuction to remove it. This method requires making several small incisions around the base of the breast. The physician will insert a small tube to remove the fat through the entry points around the breast. During this step, the surgeon will gently move the tissue back and forth to loosen the unwanted fat.
In cases of hormonal or severe gynecomastia, the entire breast gland may have to be removed. The physician will make an incision underneath the breast, taking care to preserve the cosmetic placement of the nipple, and excise the gland. Sometimes, in cases where the nipple is deformed or enlarged, the surgeon will reshape the nipple to a more “natural” size and shape.
After the procedure, physicians recommend the patient wear a chest compressor to minimize swelling. At this stage, patients will commonly experience bruising and pain. Surgeons may place a drain at the incision site to remove any excess fluid. A doctor may prescribe pain medication or require the patient to apply topical medication to the surgical site.
Most patients can return to work in about a week, though activities such as strenuous exercise will need to be limited for several more weeks. Surgeons will provide specific instructions for returning to normal activities.
There may be minimal scarring after male breast surgery. Some patients reduce the appearance of scars with Vitamin E oil or silicone-based anti-scar gels or serums. Your physician may recommend other remedies. If you’ve had any previous scarring, that will be the best indicator of how your body will heal.
Choosing the Right Surgeon
Once you’ve decided to pursue gynecomastia surgery, your next step is choosing your plastic surgeon. It is important to find an expert who can safely give you the masculine results you’re looking for and help you avoid complications. Take your time when making this decision, and only choose a surgeon who has a combination of technical skill, experience, and rapport with you, as you will be putting an enormous amount of trust in your surgeon. Attend consultations with several surgeons before you make a decision, as this is the most important choice you will make regarding your surgery.
Male Breast Surgery FAQs
Are there risks?
Male breast surgery is generally very safe, but complications can arise with virtually any surgery. These risks can include excessive bleeding, infection, allergic reactions to tape or topical agents used on the skin, and anesthesia risks.
In some cases, male breast surgery can change the sensation a man feels in the nipple, either temporarily or permanently. There may also be breast shape irregularities as the body gains or loses fatty tissue in the area. These are all issues a physician can address before the procedure.
How soon can I return to work?
Typically, recovery takes one week before the patient can resume normal activity and go back to work. However, you should avoid physical strain or any rigorous physical activity during the first 6 weeks or so, as it may cause the wound to reopen. If the patient has a low-impact job, he may be able to return to work after a few days of recovering. Talk to your surgeon to learn more about male breast surgery recovery.
Can gynecomastia come back?
While the fat and breast gland tissue is removed permanently, these issues can come up again if they are triggered by weight gain, drug use, or other causes for gynecomastia. However, men who lead a healthy lifestyle following surgery should enjoy permanent results from their surgery.
Can I lift weights after my surgery?
Strenuous exercise needs to be postponed for at least a few weeks following surgery, since these activities can compromise your healing and safety. Ask your surgeon for specific details about how long you’ll need to wait to resume normal exercise.
Can pills or creams be used to reduce male breasts instead of surgery?
No. Although these “treatments” are marketed as the solution to gynecomastia, they are ineffective. Surgery is currently the only proven treatment for gynecomastia.