Male Breast Reduction (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.
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; and are not overweight. Ideally, candidates have firm, elastic skin that will reshape itself to fit the contours of their breasts postsurgery.
Male Breast Reduction Procedure
Male breast reduction is usually performed under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis, and typically takes 1 to 3 hours. Male breast reduction is performed using liposuction or surgery, or a combination of the two.
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, surgery 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.
Who would be a good candidate for male breast reduction?
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 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 have good elasticity in his chest skin, so that it can tighten down over his slimmer contour after surgery.
What do I need to do to prepare for this 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.
Recovery from Male Breast Reduction Surgery
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 one to 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.
How soon after breast reduction surgery can I get back to normal activities?
After the first week or two at most, 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.
Is male breast reduction surgery 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.
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.