Gynecomastia, or male breast enlargement, can happen to men of all ages. It affects 40 to 60 percent of the male population, which makes it quite common. The causes can be linked to hormone imbalance, genetics, disease or the side effects of certain medications. Gynecomastia can occur on one side of the chest, or sometimes both, and the breasts grow larger or more uneven. Oftentimes, men who suffer from gynecomastia experience feelings such as embarrassment, emotional distress or avoidance of intimacy.
There is treatment available, however, for men who are looking for a flatter and firmer appearance in their chest. Specially trained plastic surgeons such as Dr. Douglas Steinbrech have the experience and extensive knowledge when it comes to performing male breast reduction surgery. But, how safe is gynecomastia surgery really?
How do I know if I have gynecomastia?
Oftentimes, gynecomastia can be confused with the presence of fatty tissue in overweight men. The telltale signs of gynecomastia include pain, tenderness or swelling in the breasts that may increase over time. If a patient is going off of touch, gynecomastia can feel like a small, firm lump under the nipple area of either one or both breasts. By appearance, the swollen tissue will resemble female breasts or “man boobs.” To rule out other conditions such as breast cancer, the patient should be evaluated through a mammogram, MRI or further testing suggested by a doctor.
What to expect with gynecomastia surgery:
If a male patient has complaints regarding lumps in his breast or excess fat in the chest area, liposuction is the best option for achieving male breast reduction. Through liposuction, the surgeon is able to remove excess glandular tissue through a minor incision leaving minimal scarring behind. The whole procedure takes two hours and can be performed while a patient is under general anesthesia. However, liposuction for gynecomastia can also be performed under local anesthesia.
What to know before:
Pre-surgery, it is advised that patients stop all medications that could increase the risk of bleeding. It’s also recommended that a patient stops smoking and increases their nutrition for faster healing. A good candidate for gynecomastia should:
- Have a condition that cannot be corrected through alternative medical treatments
- Be of relatively normal weight
- Have no life-threatening illness or underlying medical conditions
- Be a non-smoker and non-drug user
- Have a positive outlook and realistic expectations for improving his appearance
- Be of a certain age where their breasts are fully developed
- Are uncomfortable with their breasts being too large
What is the recovery process like?
Post-surgery, expect that drains will be placed to reduce the chance of fluid collection but will later be removed during a post-operative visit. Patients will also be asked to wear a special compression garment to help support the new chest contours. The overall downtime for gynecomastia surgery is minimal, roughly one week, and the results of the surgery are permanent considering there’s no future weight gain. (Click for a look at our process.)
Is gynecomastia surgery safe?
Male breast reduction surgery to treat gynecomastia is considered to be an incredibly safe procedure. Most male patients experience good outcomes in addition to a smooth recovery and surgery. Much of this depends on your surgeon and how experienced they are with performing a male breast reduction.
There are possible risks and complications associated with gynecomastia surgery in men. These complications include bruising, bleeding, fluid collections, contour irregularities, loss of nipple skin, visible scarring, numbness of the nipples, inverted nipples, loose breast skin and asymmetries. These variables can largely be controlled through surgical technique during the procedure, as well as during pre and postoperative care.