Gynecomastia is the enlargement of the male breast glandular tissue. The condition makes the male breasts to become much larger than they are supposed to be. It usually occurs during infancy in male babies or during puberty as the boy child develops.
Gynecomastia takes place as a result of a change in the balance of the body’s hormonal environment. That is when there is an increase in the number of estrogen in the male body in comparison to the level of androgen. Gynecomastia can also occur as a side effect to some medications or even drug abuse.
Factors which can result in Gynecomastia
There are a number of factors which result in gynecomastia. As mentioned above, teenage male kids passing through puberty are at risk of gynecomastia. This can be a part of the regular male child developmental process. Male babies may also have enlarged breast tissues. Some other factors which present the risk of gynecomastia are:
- Ageing: Men stand the risk of getting gynecomastia as they get older. This is because as a man ages, the body might produce less testosterone and which can lead to the imbalance, which results in the swell of the breast tissue.
- Diseases: There are specific diseases which can lead to gynecomastia. Diseases such as cirrhosis present factors which can cause the male breast tissues to enlarge.
- Medication: The side effects of some medications can also cause enlarged breast tissues. Abuse of drugs might also pose the risk of gynecomastia.
- Obesity: About 50% of obese men have gynecomastia.
Gynecomastia surgery, also known as male breast reduction surgery, is one of the most effective ways to treat gynecomastia. It is a cosmetic surgery whereby excess fat is removed from the breast to help it return to its right size. During the surgery, excess glandular tissues are also taken out to make the breast appear firmer, flatter and more masculine. The surgical process might include liposuction, excision, or a combination of both procedures. Many a time, patients often combine this with a tummy tuck to optimize the final result of the surgery.
Due to the use of some medications, genetics, age and so on, over 40% of men in the USA experience gynecomastia at some point in their lives. With well-conducted gynecomastia surgery, a man’s chest can be returned to the right size.
Benefits of Gynecomastia surgery
Men with gynecomastia are often very conscious and uncomfortable with their body. This prevents them from taking off their clothes around people and wearing big shirts which can conceal the size of their chests. The benefits of tackling gynecomastia with surgery include:
- Removal of excess male breast tissue
Excess or swollen male breast tissue is the basic cause of gynecomastia. Gynecomastia surgery is the most effective and successful method to remove this excess breast tissue, taking the chest back to its normal size.
- Excess skin removal
During a gynecomastia surgery, if there is any excess skin on the breast region, the skin can also be removed. The surgeons will adapt the surgical procedure to include the removal of excess skin.
- Removal of gynecomastia in both breasts
Gynecomastia can occur in just one breast as well as in both. If the excess tissue is present in both breasts, the surgery would be carried out in both to get rid of the excess tissue.
- 100% successful
In order to get rid of enlarged breasts, a man might be given a number of methods to try. This can include exercising, eating vegetables, taking some medications and so on. Sometimes, none of these methods works. Gynecomastia surgery on the other hand always works. After the surgery, you can be guaranteed to have your chest returned to the normal male size.
- Boost self-confidence
Men with gynecomastia often feel embarrassed and suffer from low self-esteem. Getting gynecomastia provides them with a flat and firm chest which restores their self-confidence and also their self-esteem.
- Eased physical activities
Enlarged breasts can make physical activities more difficult for men. Activities such as running, jumping, and so on become harder. Women might find it easier to move around with big breasts because of supporting bras and sports bras. Men do not have these bras, hence these activities are painful to carry out. Gynecomastia gets rid of the enlarged breasts, making all kinds of activities easier to carry out.
Risks of Gynecomastia surgery
Gynecomastia surgery, just like every other surgery comes with some risks. It is important to be fully aware of these risks before opting for surgery. Risks of the surgery include:
During the surgical process, you might react to some surgical instruments such as suture materials, taps, injected agents, glues, and so on. These reactions often times are minor and can be contained by the surgical team.
There is a risk of excessive bleeding during and after the surgery.
- Numbness and itching
After the surgery, you might experience some feeling of numbness and itching around the chest. The numbness and itching sometimes are temporary as it’ll fade as the chest heals from the surgery. Sometimes the loss of sensation is permanent.
- Breast asymmetry
After the surgery, there might be a lack of symmetry of the breast. That is the breast might be too high or too low, or both breasts might not be properly aligned. In this case, another surgery will be carried out to return it to the right symmetry.
- Blood clots
Blood clots are a risk of gynecomastia surgery. With proper attention from the doctor, it can be prevented.
- Inner structure damages
Gynecomastia surgery can cause damages to internal body structures such as muscles, nerves, blood vessels and even the lungs. While this damage can be temporary, it can also turn out to be permanent.
- Fat necrosis
There is a risk of the fatty tissue which is located in the breast region, dying.
After the gynecomastia surgery, there is a risk of the surgical area getting infected. It is the duty of the doctors and nurses to prevent this from happening.
Scarring is quite normal with most surgeries but there is also a risk that the scarring might be unfavourable.
Other risks of gynecomastia surgery include;
- Slow wound healing
- Persistent aches
- Excessive fluid loss
- Severe swelling
- Irregular breast contours
Before the surgery, the doctor will talk you through the different gynecomastia techniques and then decide which of the surgeries will be most effective for your specific situation. Gynecomastia techniques include:
- Excision technique
This technique is usually recommended when the excess breast tissue or skin has to be taken out for the gynecomastia to be corrected. This technique is also important in a situation where the nipple has to be repositioned for the final result to have a more natural look and if areola needs to be reduced. The type of incision for this technique varies based on the surgeon’s preference or the condition.
This tissue excision process provides the most optimal result. For patients with saggy or stretched skin located around the breast area, this approach is often recommended. With this procedure, the plastic surgeon can take out a larger percentage of excess glandular tissue and skin which liposuction cannot fully take out. Mostly the incision for this surgery is made within the chests natural creases. It is can also be done on the edges of the areola. In order to avoid unfavourable scarring, a cosmetic surgeon will place incisions carefully.
This technique is usually done as an outpatient operation where anaesthesia is used. After the surgery, it is normal for the patient to experience so swelling and soreness.
- Liposuction technique
Liposuction is a technique which a large number of surgeons treat gynecomastia patients with. This technique is a less invasive technique which involves the use of technologies. With liposuction, the surgeon’s skill plays a big part so it is important that you go for a surgeon who is a professional in this field. This technique is done making use of general anaesthesia or local one with sedation. A small incision is done on both sides of the chest. The incision might be done on the edge of the areola or inside the armpits. With this incision done, the excess tissue and fat will be taken out of the breasts. This removal will help give the chest the masculine contour.
After the surgery, the patient will be given compression garments for a few weeks post -surgery to reduce swelling and provide support to the healing tissue. After a week, the patient can return to work but strenuous activities are to be put off for 3 weeks to one month.
Preparation for Gynecomastia surgery
Gynecomastia surgery requires some preparations. In preparation for the surgery, you will be required to:
- Get a medical evaluation
A medical evaluation or examination will be required from you in order to clinically appraise your general health. This examination accesses your health to know how fit you are for the surgery. It also helps the surgeon determine the technique which will be used for the surgery. This evaluation will include an X-ray, physical examination and a look through your medical history. The physical exam may include an examination of your cardio regions.
- Stop smoking
You will be required to stop smoking before a gynecomastia surgery and for some period of time afterwards. This is because smoking hinders the blow flow in your skin and this can slow down the healing process after the surgery.
- Stop taking some medications
Before the surgery, your surgeon will find out if you are on any medications. If you are on medications such as herbal supplements, aspirins or anti-inflammatory pills, you will be required to stop them because these medications can increase the risks of bleeding.
- Mental preparation
Before the surgery, you will have a talk with your surgeon. During this talk, the surgeon will walk you through the risks and the benefits of the surgery. You will get a walkthrough of the surgical procedure if you desire. During this talk, you can also share your expectations and hopes from the surgery with the surgeon. If you have any allergies, this is also a good time to share it with the surgeon.
- Post-surgery preparation
Before the surgery, it is important that you make preparations for your care after the surgery. For a day or some weeks after the surgery, you might be admitted in the hospital to allow the doctors to monitor your healing process. Afterwards, you need preparations for the care you will receive at home. It is important you make plans on who will be picking you up from the hospital and also who will stay home to help you out until you are recovered enough to take care of yourself.
Recovery Period for Gynecomastia surgery
- After your gynecomastia surgery, bandages and other dressing will be placed on the incision area. An elastic garment as mentioned above will also be given to you to help minimize the swelling and provide support to the chest tissues while it heals.
- A thin, small tube will be placed in the incisions to drain off excess fluid or blood from the surgery.
- The doctor or nurse will give you some instructions on how to handle the surgical sites. You will also be given medications with instructions on when to take them and how to apply them to reduce the risks of infection.
- Visit the hospital as instructed by the cosmetic surgeon to ensure the wound heals properly and the expected result is achieved.
- If gynecomastia was gotten as a side effect of drugs, it is important that you avoid these drugs. Or consult your doctor for new prescriptions which do not present gynecomastia as a side effect.
After you go home
- Avoid strenuous activities for at least 3 weeks after the surgery.
- If you experience symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, make sure you consult your doctor as soon as possible.
- Take the medication as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take more than is prescribed.
- Do not subject your surgical area to pressure or force.
- Follow instructions by a doctor on how to take care of yourself during the healing period.