Gynecomastia (Male Breast Reduction)
Gynecomastia, or the overdevelopment of male breasts, is a condition that affects more men than people realize. Gynecomastia is common during adolescence due to the effects of hormones. At this stage in life, treatment is generally not necessary, as the breast fullness will typically spontaneously resolve after a year or two. Later in life gynecomastia tends to be permanent, and can lead to severe self-esteem and confidence issues. In these cases, surgery is usually the only option for solving the problem.
Many men experience “pseudogynecomastia”, which refers to enlarged male breasts caused by excess fat tissue alone, this problem may be improved by lifestyle changes or liposuction alone. True gynecomastia requires the removal of breast gland tissue as well as excess fat.
Male breast reduction is an effective surgery for reducing the volume of breast tissue in men, and re-contouring the chest for a more masculine appearance. Fat, breast gland tissue, and excess skin are removed, recontoured, and tightened for a smooth appearance to the chest.
During your consultation with our experienced plastic surgeons at our Atlanta, Georgia office, you will discuss your concerns about your chest contour and go over your options for male breast reduction surgery. Depending on the severity of your condition, our surgeon may recommend different approaches to surgery to get you optimal results using the most minimally-invasive techniques possible.
You will get the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about your procedure, and you will also learn more about the surgery and recovery process. Our expert staff will ensure that you are a good candidate for the surgery and make sure you know the benefits and risks of the procedure before you decide to move forward.
The best candidates for male breast reduction are healthy adult men who have enlarged breasts that have persisted over time and cause embarrassment, shame, and self-esteem issues. Men who smoke are encouraged to quit before the surgery, and anyone considering male breast surgery should have realistic expectations about the results of the procedure. In order to maintain results, patients will need to avoid any medications or substances that could trigger breast re-growth and keep their weight stable following surgery.
Gynecomastia surgery is performed under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis. The procedure usually takes about an hour or two to complete, depending on the amount of tissue to be removed. For many men, liposuction of the chest is all that is needed to produce good results, and this is performed through small incisions.
If breast tissue needs to be excised, a small, semicircular incision will be required in the areola (skin surrounding the nipple) so that breast tissue can be removed while leaving the smallest scar possible. If excess skin needs to be removed and tightened as well, this will be performed through additional incisions before they are closed.
Initial male breast reduction recovery time takes about 1-2 weeks on average. During this time, patients will want to take it easy, and must avoid strenuous activity to facilitate healing and prevent complications. During the first few weeks, a compression vest will be worn to help the skin retract and prevent fluid accumulation from occurring. Substantial swelling and some bruising are to be expected during this time, and any pain can be controlled with prescribed medication.
After the first one or two weeks, patients can begin to resume some normal activities, such as returning to work and light exercise, though each surgeon will give instructions according to each patient’s unique case. Bruising and swelling will resolve gradually until final results can be seen over the months following surgery. Final results should be apparent by 6 months post-operatively.
What causes male breast development?
There are several potential causes of gynecomastia, including the effects of a man's hormones or the effect of hormone medications. In some cases, this is caused by genetics. In others, it is linked to prescription medication, steroids (often used by bodybuilders or athletes), or excessive alcohol intake. The most common cause of fullness of the male breast is the accumulation of fatty tissues in the area (psuedogynecomastia).
Can male breast reduction help with puffy nipples?
Yes. There are varying degrees of severity when it comes to male breast development, and puffy nipples are often part of the gynecomastia problem. The goal of surgery is to provide reduction and contour for a more masculine-looking chest, which can involve making changes to the nipples.
Is male breast reduction permanent?
The tissue removed through male breast reduction surgery will not come back on its own, and in this sense, the surgery is permanent. However, should the patient not make lifestyle changes, and continues to engage in habits that can prompt gynecomastia or psuedogynecomastia, the problem could reoccur. Weight gain later on could also compromise the results of the surgery, if fat accumulates in the chest area.
Are pills a good substitute for surgery?
While it would be nice if there was a magic pill to resolve problems like gynecomastia, the reality is that these products are a gimmick and a waste of money. At this time, the only effective treatment for male breast development is surgery with a skilled plastic surgeon.
Will there be any scarring after the surgery?
All surgery produces some scarring, but the majority of patients can have their chest fullness addressed with only small incisions through which liposuction is performed. In other cases, male breast reduction procedures may include only a very small (1 inch) incision at the bottom of each areola (skin surrounding the nipple). This scar is generally very discreet and should become less prominent over time. For more extensive gynecomastia surgery, additional incisions may be required to tighten the skin, but all scars are minimized as much as possible.
Can certain exercises reduce the chest?
Many people are surprised to hear that performing chest exercises in order to make gynecomastia less noticeable can actually make the problem worse. This is because gynecomastia has nothing to do with the chest muscles, and building out those muscles can increase the volume in the chest that is already overdeveloped from unwanted breast tissue. Following surgery, however, men who build up the chest muscles can expect nice, masculine “pecs” instead of “man boobs”.
Will my chest look natural after male breast reduction?
The goal of male breast reduction is always a natural appearance and a masculine contour to the chest. Only excess breast tissue is removed, not all, as all men have some breast gland tissue. Removing additional tissue would affect the chest contours negatively and make the result appear unnatural. When performed by a skilled plastic surgeon, male breast reduction results are typically very symmetrical and natural-looking.
How do I know my gynecomastia won’t go away on its own?
It’s always hard to say whether gynecomastia is a passing phase or not, but the fact is that the problem is usually only temporary in newborns and adolescents. Adult men with gynecomastia shouldn’t expect the problem to go away on its own, as once breast gland tissue has formed, it can only be resolved with surgical excision. Furthermore, if gynecomastia is triggered by prescription or illegal drug use, including anabolic steroids, breast growth can reappear after surgery if the drug use is not ceased.
How long will I have to wait to start exercising again after surgery?
Male breast reduction patients are usually anxious to hit the gym after surgery, but it’s important that you take it easy for a while and allow your body to heal before you get back to any strenuous activity. This is especially true for exercises that affect the chest and pectoral muscles, such as weight training. Light activity can be resumed after the initial healing period (about two weeks), but strenuous exercise should wait at least 4-6 weeks on average. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions, depending on the nature of your procedure and incisions.
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