A word about breast reduction in men…
Gynecomastia is a medical term that comes from the Greek words for “women-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.
If you’re considering surgery to correct gynecomastia, this will give you a basic understanding of the procedure – when it can help, how it’s performed, and what results you can expect. It can’t answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Please be sure to ask your doctor if there is anything about the procedure you don’t understand.
The best candidates for gynecomastia correction
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 reshape to the body’s new contours.
Planning your surgery
The initial consultation with your surgeon is very important. Your surgeon will need a complete medical history, so check your own records ahead of time and be ready to provide this information.
Don’t hesitate to ask your surgeon any questions you may have during the initial consultation- including your concerns about the recommended treatment or the costs involved.
Preparing for your surgery
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating, drinking, and taking certain vitamins and medications.
Smokers should plan to stop smoking for a minimum of 4 weeks before surgery and during recovery. Smoking decreases circulation and interferes with proper healing. Therefore, it is essential to follow all your surgeon’s instructions.
Where your surgery will be performed
Surgery for gynecomastia is most often performed as an outpatient procedure.
Type of anesthesia
Correction of enlarged male breasts will be performed under general anesthesia.
If excess glandular tissue is the primary cause of the breast enlargement, it may be excised with a scalpel. The excision may be performed alone or in conjunction with liposuction. In a typical procedure, an incision is made in an inconspicuous location – either on the edge of the areola or in the under arm area.
Sometimes, a small drain is inserted through a separate incision to draw off excess fluids. Once closed, the incisions are usually covered with a dressing. The chest may be wrapped to keep the skin firmly in place.
After your surgery
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 be instructed to wear an elastic pressure garment continuously for a few weeks. Although the swelling will dissipate in the first few weeks, it may be months before the final results of your surgery are apparent.
In the meantime, it is important to begin getting back to normal. You’ll be encouraged to begin walking around on the day of surgery, and can return to work when you feel well enough – which could be as early as a day or two after surgery. Any stitches will generally be removed about 1 week following the procedure.
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. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them frankly with your plastic surgeon.
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.
© 2005 American Society of Plastic Surgeons