Gynecomastia Surgery: Breast Reduction In Men

"Man-boobs", "moobs", and "man breasts",  these are just some of the slang-terms for a condition medically referred to as gynecomastia, literally meaning "woman-like breasts".

The reality of having to live with such a condition affects males to varying degrees. Many young men lead a life of apprehension and shame, resorting to wearing thick shirts to conceal the nature of the problem. While a majority of sufferers try to combat the problem with diet and exercise, others have found a solution in gynecomastia surgery.

What is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is the enlargement of the male breast, owing to proliferation of the glandular tissue of the breast. This enlargement may occur in one or both breasts.
Nearly 65% of teenage boys, 40% of healthy middle aged men, and 60% of men in their seventies have palpable breast tissue. In 90% of adolescents, the symptoms of gynecomastia disappear as they grow out of adolescence.

Medical Management of Gynecomastia

In most cases, the symptoms of gynecomastia will go away without any intervention. However, if you experience swelling, pain, or discharge from one or both of your nipples, it's time to see a doctor. The swollen breast tissue could be a sign of an underlying condition.
The medical treatment of gynecomastia focuses on tackling the primary problem. If breast enlargement is caused by certain medications like steroids, anti-epileptic drugs, chemotherapy drugs, or antidepressants, stopping or substituting the drugs may solve the problem.
For gynecomastia caused by hormonal imbalance, as occurs in hypogonadism and cancer of the adrenal and pituitary glands, hormone replacement therapy may be an option.

Are You a Candidate for Gynecomastia?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2006, nearly 14,000 teenage boys underwent surgery to reduce their breast size.
Surgery is indicated in cases of:
  • Excessively large breasts
  • Long standing enlargement
  • Non-responsiveness to medical therapy
  • Negative psychosocial impact
You may be considered a good candidate for successful gynecomastia surgery if you:
  • Are healthy and emotionally stable
  • Have firm elastic skin that can be contoured
  • Are not overweight or obese
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages in excess
  • Do not smoke marijuana

How is Gynecomastia Surgery Performed?

Male breast reduction is generally done on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. The procedure can take one to three hours and may involve liposuction, surgical excision, or both.
Liposuction is indicated where fatty tissue deposition is the main cause of gynecomastia. In this procedure, a cannula is inserted through a tiny incision around the areola or in the underarm area and the excess fat is suctioned out.
In gynecomastia due to glandular proliferation, surgical excision is the best approach. During excision, the surgeon works through the incision, cutting away excessive glandular tissue, fat, and skin from around the areola and the sides and bottom of the breast. Sometimes, excision is combined with liposuction to achieve best results.
Complications of gynecomastia surgery may include:
  • infection
  • bleeding
  • numbness
  • slow healing
  • skin damage

Recovery From Gynecomastia Surgery

You can expect some degree of postoperative swelling, bruising, and pain after the surgery. The surgical dressing will be replaced by a compression garment to be used until the sutures are removed, which is generally done after two weeks. Do not be alarmed at some degree of scarring around the areola; it will fade away with time.
You can go back to work as quickly as five days following the operation, but you will be advised to refrain from engaging in strenuous activities for 3?6 weeks post surgery.