What is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia, which is the overdevelopment of male breasts, affects an estimated 40 to 60 percent of men. It can be the result of hormonal imbalance, obesity, certain drugs, or heredity, and can affect one or both breasts. Dr. Ryan Frank in Calgary, AB specializes in gynecomastia or male breast reduction. If you are interested in learning more about the procedure, or if you wish to determine whether you are a candidate for surgery, be sure to give us a call at (403) 245-1228 to schedule your personalized consultation!
What are the most common causes of male boobs?
Male breast enlargement may result from several factors. Certain medications, medical conditions, and lifestyle habits can strongly contribute to the growth of male breast tissue. Examples include heavy alcohol consumption, use of marijuana, anabolic steroid use, and certain medications for anxiety and depression. In addition to discussing how to reduce male breasts, a doctor may also perform or order various tests to identify the underlying cause of this condition.
What happens if I leave my man boobs untreated?
In the vast majority of cases, there is no medical reason to treat gynecomastia. Left untreated, the breast enlargement persists, that is all. The enlargement does not present a risk for breast cancer or tumors. It can, however, contribute to feelings of low self-esteem, frustration, self-consciousness, and even depression. Men who are able to reduce breast size by healthy lifestyle choices or, when applicable, surgery, usually experience significant psychological gains.
Ideal Candidates for Male Breast Reduction
Candidates for breast reduction are men who have large or sagging breasts that make them feel physically and/or emotionally uncomfortable. Breast reduction can be performed on men whose breast development is complete; are in good health, both physically and emotionally; do not smoke; do not take steroids and are not overweight. Ideally, candidates have firm, elastic skin that will reshape itself to fit the contours of their breasts postsurgery.
How is Male Breast Reduction Performed?
If the enlarged breasts are caused primarily by excessive fatty tissue, the tissue is typically removed with liposuction, during which a cannula (a thin, hollow tube) is inserted through extremely small incisions, and then moved back and forth to loosen excess fat, which is suctioned out using a vacuum or a cannula-attached syringe. The incisions are made around the lower halves of the areolas or in the underarms.
If the enlarged breasts are caused primarily by excess glandular tissue, surgical excision is required. Incisions are made to allow for tissue to be removed. Repositioning the areolas/nipples and excising excess skin also requires incisions. Sutures are used to close the incisions, which are then bandaged, and the area is typically covered by a compression garment.
Does a Male Breast Reduction Require Anesthesia?
Male breast reduction is usually performed under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis.
Is the surgery process painful?
Gynecomastia surgery is not painful, no. Prior to the procedure, Dr. Frank administers appropriate anesthesia. Most patients undergo this treatment with general anesthesia, so they are in a sleep state in which pain receptors are blocked. The effects of anesthesia can linger for some time after surgery. Usually, patients encounter only minor discomfort when they take prescription medication as directed.
How Long Does a Male Breast Reduction Procedure Take?
This procedure typically takes 1.5 to 3 hours.
Is Surgery Always The Best Solution for Gynecomastia?
The question of whether surgery can fix a patient’s condition involves ruling some things out. If a man’s enlarged breasts are due to weight gain, the first step is to lose the weight and see if the condition persists. Heavy drinkers, steroid users and marijuana users also aren’t candidates for surgery, as their breast enlargement comes from their lifestyle choices.
Dr. Frank can diagnose when true gynecomastia is to blame. He will feel for a firm, rubbery mass underneath the nipple area. The size of this mass is usually less than two inches in diameter. It will often be sensitive to applied pressure. It is important that the patient still has good elasticity in his chest skin, so that it can tighten down over his slimmer contour after surgery.
How To Prepare for Male Breast Reduction Surgery
There isn’t any specific preparation necessary for this procedure with Dr. Frank. You’ll need to stop taking any anti-inflammatory medications or aspirin & herbal supplements, as these can lead to increased bleeding and subsequent bruising. You’ll need to stop smoking for four weeks or more prior and after your surgery. The preparation is the same as for any surgical procedure.
What Our Patients Have to Say
“Dr. Frank truly is wonderful. He has great bedside manner, is willing to go above and beyond for his patients, and is incredibly talented. I would recommend him to anyone in a heartbeat! His team ensures that you are well taken care of, feel supported and cared for and take every effort to ensure you are at ease and comfortable. Plastic surgery is an extremely personal and often emotional experience for people and having a doctor and team that is able to make you feel comfortable and understood is so important.” -Madyson D.
Are The Results of Male Breast Reduction Permanent?
Patients wonder if this surgery will need repeating later on. True gynecomastia, versus enlarged breasts due to weight gain or other lifestyle factors, is caused mainly by excess glandular tissue. This causes the protrusion of the nipple-areola complex. In male breast reduction surgery, Dr. Frank removes the majority of the mammary gland, leaving enough to support the nipple-areola. With this tissue gone, the chances of recurrence are very low.
However, if the gynecomastia was due to the use of steroids, marijuana, or other medications, it is possible for a patient’s breasts to become enlarged again if usage is continued. Also, a sizeable increase in weight can allow fat to accumulate in the breasts, although this isn’t true gynecomastia.
If you want to maintain your new chest contours, keeping to a healthy weight, and moderating your alcohol or marijuana use will be necessary. Steroid use would fully need to cease, as enlarged breasts are a direct side effect.
What is the best way to maintain my results for male breast reduction?
By far, the best way to maintain masculine chest contours after male breast reduction is to live a healthy life. Because a fair amount of the breast gland may be removed during surgery, there is little chance that excess breast tissue will grow in the future. If it does, it is the result of lifestyle choices or weight gain. After surgery, patients should limit alcohol consumption and refrain from marijuana and steroid use. It is also necessary to eat a healthy diet and exercise as needed to maintain a healthy weight.
Recovering After Male Breast Reduction
There will be some swelling and discomfort that may last up to two weeks (and can linger longer at times), but it will begin to resolve relatively quickly. You will need to wear a compression shirt or vest to reduce swelling and to help your chest conform to its new contour. You should be able to resume most of your normal activities within two weeks after surgery, but any exercise, such as weightlifting, that puts pressure on the chest will need to wait for up to six – eight weeks. Dr. Frank will discuss this with you during your follow-up appointments.
When Can I Return to Normal Activity after Breast Reduction Surgery?
After the first week, patients can return to light exercise, such as walking. Strenuous exercise needs to wait for a month or so. But you’ll quickly be able to return to work and regular activities. Any exercise, such as weight training that targets the chest, will likely need to be avoided for up to six – eight weeks.
What Are The Risks of Male Breast Reduction?
In addition to the risks associated with surgery and anesthesia, those related to male breast reduction include the following:
- Skin injury
- Loss of nipple sensation
- Asymmetrical breasts or nipples
The results of gynecomastia surgery are usually permanent, as long as the patient’s weight remains stable. If drugs were the cause of the condition, the patient must permanently stop taking them to maintain results.
Will I require surgery again in the future?
Men who undergo treatment for gynecomastia usually do not experience a recurrence of breast enlargement. Dr. Frank is discerning when qualifying patients for male breast reduction. Patients who are actively engaged in lifestyle habits that contribute to excessive breast tissue growth are typically not good candidates for treatment. When habits such as excessive alcohol consumption, marijuana use and steroid use continue, there is a risk that the breasts may enlarge again at some point. Breast tissue can also enlarge if a man gains a significant amount of weight. In this instance, though, the enlargement can be reversed by revising diet and exercise habits.
Can I combine male breast reduction with other procedures?
Yes. Some patients combine their breast procedure with abdominoplasty to achieve more comprehensive body contouring.