Gynecomastia is a medical term that refers to a rarely talked about condition, however, it’s actually quite common – the overdevelopment of male breasts affects roughly 40 to 60 percent of men. Gynecomastia can start in adolescence and may persist throughout adulthood, or can develop in an older man due to steroid abuse, weight gain, hormonal imbalance, or as a side effect of certain medications.
Men with male breast enlargement (or “Gynecomastia”) may avoid certain clothing, social situations, and physical activities. The condition can also cause emotional distress and hinder self-confidence, as some men may avoid intimacy to hide their condition.
Gynecomastia is characterized by:
- Excess localized fat
- Excess glandular tissue development
- Excess breast skin
- Affects one breast or both
For patients where gynecomastia is mostly excess fatty tissue, liposuction techniques can be used to remove the excess fat. In this scenario, small incisions are made typically around the areola and a liposuction cannula is inserted to loosen and suction out the fat. This approach has the benefit of limited incisions for minimal scarring and most activities can be resumed within two weeks.
In patients where gynecomastia is mostly glandular breast tissue, where excess skin must be removed, where nipple placement must be returned to a more natural position, or where the size of the areola must be reduced, excision techniques are used. Incision locations vary based on the surgical approach but are most often hidden along natural contours of the breast and around the pigmented area of the areola. In many cases, both liposuction and excision techniques are used to achieve an aesthetically pleasing result.
Why have male breast reduction surgery?
Gynecomastia is one of the more unknown conditions in health. That explains why, despite the prevalence of enlarged breasts in up to or more than one half of men, few men have surgery to correct the problem.
Why have Dr. Watterson correct your gynecomastia? What is the benefit of improved self-esteem? What’s the benefit of not worrying if people are whispering about your “man boobs” when accepting a waterskiing weekend up at Jordanelle? Although many men have this condition, it’s difficult individually to feel you’re not the only person with larger than normal breasts. This surgery with Dr. Watterson can make you feel good about taking off your shirt at the pool, when doing yardwork on a hot July day in Draper, or at the gym after a workout. The surgery is simple; recovery is easy. It’s a great procedure that can really give your confidence a boost.
What are the risks involved with male breast reduction?
These are not difficult procedures. They involve small incisions and a small amount of tissue manipulation. Still, they are surgery, so all the risks inherent with surgery are involved: reaction to anesthesia, excessive bleeding, infection, poor incision healing, and the like. These are all quite rare. The main risk with male breast reduction surgery is possible loss of some sensation around the nipples. This is also quite rare, and if sensation is impacted this is usually only temporary.
Who Is A Good Candidate For Male Breast Reduction?
When a young man or even a middle -aged gentleman is fearful or embarrassed to remove his shirt at the pool or the beach because of enlarged breasts (gynecomastia) then there is good reason to consider male breast reduction surgery. It is one of the most gratifying procedures both for the surgeon and patient.
I recall a fourteen-year-old who came to visit me an almost refused to take his shirt off. He was so embarrassed. After his surgery it was life-changing for him. He would look me in the eye, easily remove his shirt and had a great burden lifted from his life.
Patients who are in good health, don’t smoke, and are motivated make the best candidates. Skin quality and size of the breasts are important factors. Some patients with very large and pendulous breasts will need more aggressive surgical maneuvers to achieve the desired result.
Sometimes different drugs and marijuana can cause the male breast to enlarge and become feminine (gynecomastia). A careful history to rule this out is important. Another contribution may be increased weight which can cause the breast to appear larger.
What Causes Male Breast Enlargement?
True gynecomastia is usually caused by hormone fluctuations. That’s obviously the case with teens who have the condition during puberty. In adults, the causes aren’t as clear-cut. Adult gynecomastia usually occurs in middle age and above. As during puberty, this is a time of fluctuating hormones. Beyond hormones, certain medications are linked to enlarged breasts.
Here’s a list of causes and risk factors for a man developing gynecomastia:
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Heartburn treatment drugs
- Anti-anxiety drugs
- AIDS treatment drugs
- Elevated estrogen levels
- Heavy drinking
- Frequent marijuana usage
- Weight gain
How common is surgery to correct gynecomastia?
One of the more unfortunate aspects to gynecomastia is that, while it can really impact a man’s self-confidence, most men don’t choose to do anything to address the condition. As mentioned above, it’s thought that from 40 to 60 percent of men are affected by enlarged breasts. But in 2019, only 20,955 men chose to have surgery to correct their condition.
That’s a shame because these procedures with a board-certified plastic surgeon such as Dr. Watterson are not complicated, don’t involve much of a recovery, and don’t leave any noticeable scarring.
What Procedure Is Right For Me?
Usually a combined approach is wise, using liposuction and actual surgical removal of hard to suction breast tissue. The incision is usually made at the areola junction and is inconspicuous. Occasionally we can simply suction the breast and get a very nice result and conversely a very small subareolar gynecomastia can simply be removed surgically without any suction.
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LENGTH: 1-2 hours.
ANESTHESIA: Usually asleep.
SIDE EFFECTS: Discomfort, swelling, transient altered nipple sensitivity.
RISKS: With any surgery, risks such as infection and blood clot exist. Our surgeons will always talk with you about potential risks specific to your procedures in your consultation. Other risks may include permanent nipple insensitivity and scarring.
RECOVERY: Drains may be placed at the time of surgery and can be removed in the office after two to five days. You may be instructed to wear a compression vest for a few months to aid in the skin re-draping process.
DURATION OF RESULTS: Can be permanent.
What kind of scarring can I expect from gynecomastia surgery?
Dr. Watterson can usually make the necessary incisions around the areola on each breast. This makes the incisions virtually invisible.
How will recovery be after male breast reduction surgery?
This is not an overly difficult recovery. There will be some swelling and discomfort that may last up to two weeks, 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 week after surgery, but any exercise, such as weightlifting, that puts pressure on the chest will need to wait for up to one month. Dr. Watterson will discuss this with you during your follow-up.
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 wait for about six weeks.
Will my gynecomastia return after surgery?
In most cases of reduction surgery, where Dr. Watterson removes most of the breast gland, this also removes the chances of the condition returning.
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.