Do you find yourself reaching for the oversized sweatshirts, even in the heat of the summer? If you’re a man suffering from gynecomastia, you may be nodding your head.
Gynecomastia is the scientific name for the overdevelopment of male breasts. Affecting up to 30% of men during their lifetime the condition can stem from genetics, the use of certain medications or other unknown factors.
The good news? Though gynecomastia can feel isolating and embarrassing, it isn’t incurable. There are plastic surgery procedures that can give your chest a flatter, firmer and more contoured appearance.
Today, we’re sharing the ins and outs of male breast reduction surgery so you can decide if it’s right for you.
Ready to get started? Let’s go!
What Causes Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia can occur at any age. There are a few factors that medical professionals believe contribute to its onset, including:
- Hormonal changes
- The use of certain drugs or medications
In addition to physical woes, the condition can affect your mental and emotional health, as well. As a result of low self-confidence, you might avoid social situations or even intimacy to conceal your appearance.
Gynecomastia can affect both of your breasts or only one side. It’s characterized by excessive localized fat, extra glandular tissue and excess breast skin, on occasion.
How Does Male Breast Reduction Surgery Work?
Is it possible to reverse a lifetime of cringing in only a few hours? The answer is “yes.”
In short, gynecomastia surgery works by removing the excess fat around your breasts, as well as the enlarged glandular tissue.
That last part is especially important and here’s why.
When you lose weight, you may be able to shed some of the fat near your breasts. Yet, the glandular tissue remains. This is why gynecomastia can affect even the leanest men you know.
This extra weight can tug on your breasts and cause them to sag over time, even stretching the dark part around your nipple, called your areola. Surgeons can correct this issue, resizing and repositioning your areola while removing excess skin.
While there are myriad treatments and short-term shortcuts that can help you reduce the appearance of your enlarged breasts, gynecomastia surgery is the only method that offers long-term results.
If you’re tired of covering up your breasts and want to project a newfound spirit of self-confidence, this form of male breast surgery may be for you.
Am I a Candidate?
Are you ready to sign on the dotted line and schedule your procedure? Before you take that next step, first make sure you qualify for gynecomastia surgery.
In general, this procedure is safe and suitable for males who:
- Can’t correct their condition through alternative treatments
- Are healthy and without a life-threatening illness
- Are active, fit and within normal weight limits
- Have a positive, upbeat attitude and realistic expectations
As gynecomastia can also affect adolescent males, they may be candidates for the surgery. Yet, keep in mind that as they grow and their breasts continue to develop, they may need follow-up or secondary procedures in the future.
What’s Included in the Cost?
The cost of your procedure will vary based on where the magnitude of the surgery and whether or not the surgery is to be performed under general or local anesthesia. The range is from $7,000 and up.
Your budget should include any required blood tests and medications.
A good rule of thumb is, how much you pay your plastic surgeon will come down to his or her experience, education and industry credentials. The cost will also take into account the surgeon’s geographical location and the exact type of procedure performed.
Not sure where to look? Start by checking out the board-certified plastic surgeons in your area. Make sure you’re confident in the surgeon’s reputation, professionalism and rapport before moving forward.
Will My Health Insurance Cover It?
As gynecomastia surgery is often considered a cosmetic procedure, most health insurance companies won’t cover it as a necessary medical treatment. Still, it’s worth checking into, as each policy is different.
There is also a gray area between cosmetic surgeries and restorative ones. If you’re able to argue your case that you need gynecomastia surgery in a restorative sense, you may improve your chances of getting third-party coverage.
Before you call to ask, reference this series of papers by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). One paper details the ASPS’ stance on recommended insurance coverage criteria for gynecomastia surgery. It can help insurance providers address reimbursement concerns over cosmetic versus restorative surgeries.
What Will I Discuss at My Consultation?
Once you decide that the surgery is the right next step, you’ll schedule a consultation with your plastic surgeon. Here, you’ll discuss your surgical goals, as well as your current medical condition.
At this time, you’ll need to disclose any prescription medications you’re taking, as well as any vitamins and herbal supplements. Be upfront and honest about your use of alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drugs, and steroids.
The success of your surgery hinges on open conversation. Make sure you’re comfortable talking to your surgeon and never feel belittled for asking questions. It’s natural to be anxious and a little nervous about your upcoming surgery, but you should never feel that way due to a lack of insight or information about what to expect.
At the same meeting, your surgeon will have some questions prepared for you. Let’s review what you can expect once the tables are turned.
Your Physician Review
First, your surgeon will dive into your current and past medical history, including any pre-existing risk factors or health conditions.
The surgeon may also perform medical tests to determine the underlying cause of your gynecomastia, which may include an examination of your endocrine function.
From there, he’ll perform the following activities:
- Measure the size and shape of your breasts
- Measure the placement of your nipples and areolas
- Take photographs to track progress
- Discuss all of your options and recommend an appropriate treatment
- Explain the risks of the surgery and discuss its anticipated outcome
Remember, this is your time to speak so use your voice! Rather than nodding your head and tuning the medical jargon out, seek to understand every line. Make sure your surgeon is reputable, trained and certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Verify credentials using the Board’s online search tool.
What to Expect Before and After Surgery
In the days leading up to your gynecomastia surgery, complete any required medical evaluations.
Your surgeon may also ask you to take certain medications or adjust your current regimen. You’ll also need to kick cigarettes to the curb and stop taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs or supplements, as they can encourage excess bleeding.
Arrange for someone to drive you to and from the surgeon’s office and stay with you at least the first night as you begin your recovery.
Once the surgery is complete, your surgeon will apply dressings or bandages to your incision areas. You may also wear a support garment or elastic bandage to reduce swelling and encourage quicker healing.
In addition, you may also come home with a tube placed under your skin to help drain any excess blood or fluids. Follow your doctor’s orders precisely, including:
- How to care for your surgical sites
- Which medications to take to promote healing and reduce infection risk
- Concerns and issues to look out for
- When to schedule follow-up consultations
- When to resume normal physical activity
- When to remove your stitches
What’s the Procedure Like?
Before your surgeon begins work, you’ll receive anesthesia to keep you comfortable. Depending on your condition, your surgeon may recommend either intravenous sedation or general anesthesia, or local anesthesis in appropriate candidates.
There are two main gynecomastia surgery procedures. Let’s take a high-level look at each.
The Liposuction Technique
Did your surgeon determine that your gynecomastia is the result of excess fatty tissue? If so, liposuction alone may be enough to solve the problem.
This procedure centers on a thin, tiny tube called a cannula used within several small incisions near your breasts. Your surgeon will move the cannula back and forth to loosen the fat, then remove it via vacuum suction. Dr. Neavin often uses Vaser to emulsify fat cells before performing liposuction. Vaser stands for Vibration Amplification of Sound, Energy and Resonance. It is most useful in men with looser or skin or internal scar tissue from prior male breast reduction procedures.
The Excision Technique
Often, the issue will run deeper than fat. If you have excess glandular tissue or skin around your breasts that needs tightening, the excision technique is preferable. In this intance, a small incision is made around the border of the areaola, and the excess glandular tissues is excised under direct vision. The excision of glandular tissue often follows liposuction or Vaser and liposuction. The two combined are the most common procedures performed for male breast reduction.
The Male Breast Reduction Solution You Can Trust
This summer, put your winterwear back in the closet where it belongs.
With male breast reduction surgery, you can embrace your form, no longer shrouding behind baggy shirts that hide it.
Looking for a plastic surgeon who specializes in procedures that make men look and feel their best? You’ve come to the right spot.
From gynecomastia surgery to penis enhancements, liposuction and face remodeling, we can give you the look you want. Get in touch today to schedule a consultation and usher in a more confident tomorrow.
Dr. Tim Neavin is a board-certified plastic surgeon located in Beverly Hills, California.