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Gynecomastia: Shirts Optional

WHAT IS MALE BREAST REDUCTION SURGERY?

When it comes to love handles, a double chin, or minor signs of aging, generally speaking, most men are not as self-conscious about their appearance as women. There is, however, one condition that can represent a significant psychological burden – male breasts (also known as gynecomastia). It’s surprising how many men live with this common condition, letting it impact their lifestyle. Some limit their activities and interactions, unaware that a very low risk, effective, minimally invasive procedure is available. Here Dr. Lee explains what is involved in male breast reduction and why awareness is the first step toward a flatter, firmer, better contoured chest.

WHAT CAUSES EXCESS MALE BREAST TISSUE?

gynecomastia-patientGynecomastia can affect men of any age. Common causes include natural hormone changes, certain health conditions, exposure to anabolic steroids or estrogen, side effects of medications, and street drugs. In some boys and men the exact cause remains a mystery. Gynecomastia often resolves on its own once a boy reaches his mid to late teens. Other times, surgical intervention may be necessary, particularly if it persists beyond adolescence.
While it is not uncommon for a man to have some fat in his chest, true gynecomastia is not related to fat, but rather the overdevelopment of breast tissue. The main purpose of a consultation and initial exam is to properly evaluate the amount of tissue and percentage of fat. Depending upon the predominant issue, surgery can include several components. It can involve gland excision, liposuction, and in rare cases–removing excess skin. Gynecomastia correction is done in an outpatient setting and usually takes 1-2 hours.

DOES SURGERY CORRECT “MAN BREAST”?

gynecomastia-resultsThe procedure is straightforward but can be challenging because taking out too much tissue can result in an abnormal looking contour, so there definitely is an artistic component to the surgery. The SAFELipo® technique I use facilitates a pinpoint incision in the armpit through which I can do a considerable amount of plane development to preserve the appearance of a natural male chest wall. The fibrous tissue is removed through a small centimeter incision where the nipple meets the skin. Scars for the most part are extremely difficult to see after a few months and usually fade altogether. Most patients heal well because there is little tension on those scars. Incisions are healed within 3-4 weeks. Sutures are hidden inside so no stitches need to be removed

WHAT’S THE RECOVERY LIKE AFTER GYNECOMASTIA CORRECTION?

gynecomastia-recovery-experienceImmediately after the surgery, patients will leave the surgery center wearing a compression garment similar to a vest. This is essential to minimize swelling and coax the chest to conform to its new shape. After the first two weeks, this garment is traded in for an Under Armour® shirt, worn for 10 additional weeks. Activity is restricted for about a month. If I’m treating a high school, college, or professional athlete, we consider those restrictions on a case by case basis.
Although every patient is different, most of my patients tell me the recovery is not particularly painful. Some cite a little discomfort around the nipple. A day of prescription pain medication is usually all that is needed. In general, the more tissue removed, the longer the recovery, but only by a day or two.
Within a few months post-surgery, the patient who was too embarrassed to remove his shirt is confident being bare chested. Most results are permanent unless an instigating factor such as drugs or hormones are continued. Gynecomastia is one of the most gratifying surgeries for patient and surgeon alike. It’s truly low risk, high reward when you consider you no longer have to accept something that can profoundly and negatively affect your everyday life.