Men, Plastic Surgery, and Gynecomastia

Like women, men also have breast tissue. While men don’t develop breasts in the same way as women do, they’re still born with breast tissue, but it’s a small amount. However, men don’t usually want larger breasts, like women.

Gynecomastia isn’t always a severe issue, but if you’re dealing with this condition, it can be difficult to cope with it. You’re likely embarrassed or may be experiencing pain in your breasts.

Men with gynecomastia are often self-conscious about how they look and seek treatment options to help reduce the size of their breast tissue. Fortunately, there are effective treatment options for gynecomastia that produce great results.

What is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is a condition that causes mens’ and boys’ breast tissue to swell. Gynecomastia comes from the Greek words “gynec”, which means feminine, and “mastos”, which means breast. Gynecomastia can occur when two of your body’s hormones become unbalanced or thrown off.

Boys’ bodies mostly produce testosterone. During puberty, this hormone guides their sexual growth. However, they also make the same hormone that guides girls’ sexual growth — estrogen. The balance of testosterone and estrogen change during puberty as a boy or when there’s less testosterone being produced in an older man’s body. In certain cases when this occurs, there’s a greater amount of estrogen, which leads to swelling of male breast tissue.

Two common signs of gynecomastia are:

  1. Breast tenderness
  2. Swollen breast tissue

Usually, when you develop gynecomastia, you might notice a fatty tissue lump under your nipple which can be sore or tender. You may worry it’s breast cancer. However, when you have gynecomastia, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer, though you’ll still want your doctor to do some testing to be sure.

Only a small number of men do develop breast cancer, though. In fact, the American Cancer Society reports that in their lifetime, men have about 1 in 833 risk of developing breast cancer.

You may experience uneven breast swelling where one breast is bigger than the other. The condition could go away without treatment, but if not, your doctor will sit down with you to discuss treatment options.

Prevalence of Gynecomastia

Adult men struggle with gynecomastia the most. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), between 50% to 60% of gynecomastia cases are in adolescent males. And, around 65% of men ages 27 through 92 have developed some degree of gynecomastia.

Gynecomastia doesn’t have to take away your confidence. A qualified and skilled plastic and reconstructive surgeon can help you get back a more natural and masculine looking chest. The advanced techniques today mean:

  • Shorter surgeries
  • Quicker recovery
  • Nearly invisible scars

Below you’ll learn more about male breast reduction surgery.

Plastic Surgery for Men With Gynecomastia

A male breast reduction, or also called reduction mammaplasty, is the most effective gynecomastia treatment option. With this cosmetic procedure, the surgeon eliminates excess glandular and fat tissue, helping to restore a firmer, flatter and more masculine chest contour.

If you have a more serious case of gynecomastia, the excess breast tissue weight could cause breast sagging and areola (dark skin that surrounds your nipples) stretching. In these cases, the surgeon can surgically improve the size and position of your areola and reduce the excess skin.

What are the Types of Gynecomastia Plastic Surgery

Two effective types of Gynecomastia procedures are:

  1. Liposuction — for Minor to Moderate Gynecomastia Cases. If your gynecomastia is mostly due to excess fatty tissue, your surgeon might use liposuction techniques where they insert a cannula (hollow, thin tube), through a few small incisions they make. In a controlled motion, they move the cannula back and forth to loosen the excess fat and then use a vacuum suction to remove it from your body. There are a number of liposuction techniques your surgeon will pick from, depending on your individual case.
  2. Surgical Excision — for More Moderate to Severe Cases. Excision techniques are the go-to procedure when you need excess skin or glandular breast tissue removed to correct gynecomastia. It’s also necessary if your surgeon needs to reduce the areola or reposition your nipple to a more natural male contour. The patterns of the incision will depend on your surgical preference and specific condition.

In some cases, the surgeon may use both excision and liposuction to treat gynecomastia.

Are You a Good Candidate for Gynecomastia Plastic Surgery?

You’re a good candidate for gynecomastia surgery if you’re a boy or man and:

  • Your gynecomastia isn’t treatable through alternative medical treatments
  • You’re a non-drug user and nonsmoker
  • You’re healthy and don’t have a life-threatening medical condition or illness that could impair healing
  • The development of your breasts has stabilized
  • You have specific goals for improving your physical gynecomastia symptoms and have a positive outlook
  • You have realistic expectations
  • You’re of fairly normal weight and are physically healthy
  • You’re troubled with the feeling of having too large breasts

Surgery may be beneficial for adolescents, but they might require secondary procedures in the future if their breast development continues.

What is the Gynecomastia Procedure Like?

Chances are if you’re scheduled for gynecomastia plastic surgery, you’ll have some questions and may not know what to expect.

What Should I Expect During Gynecomastia Plastic Surgery Recovery?

During your recovery period from gynecomastia surgery, the surgeon will apply bandages or dressings to your incisions and may use a support garment or elastic bandage to reduce swelling and support the new contour of your chest while it heals from surgery. They’ll provide you with specific instructions on:

  • How to care for the drains and surgical site
  • What medicines to take orally or apply topically to help reduce possible infection and promote healing
  • What potential concerns to keep an eye out in your general health or at your surgical site
  • When you should follow up with the surgeon

The surgeon may temporarily place a thin, small tube underneath your skin to drain any extra fluid or blood that might collect.

What Results Can I Expect From Gynecomastia Plastic Surgery?

You should notice immediate results from your gynecomastia surgery. Over time, incision lines will fade and post-surgical swelling will go away. You should become more satisfied with the results as you recover from the procedure.

Your final gynecomastia surgery results might take three to six months to achieve. While you will have permanent incision lines, they’ll continue fading over time.

Any surgical procedure for correcting gynecomastia will require incisions. And, although your natural contours will conceal most incision lines, you may still see some since they’re a necessary result of gynecomastia surgery. You’ll likely experience enhanced confidence and self-image from your improved upper body results, whether you wear a t-shirt, shirt and tie or a bare chest at the beach.

While there’s no guarantee, you should expect good results from your procedure. You might require more than one procedure to treat gynecomastia to:

  • Treat any complications you might experience.
  • Perform additional repositioning or tightening of your breasts.

Presently, male breast reduction or gynecomastia surgery is the only consistently effective gynecomastia treatment option that’s long-lasting, with potentially permanent results.

Book Your Cosmetic Consultation Today

Consult with Dr. David Sieber, our double-board certified, Bay Area plastic surgeon, to learn about the different types of cosmetic procedures he performs, including male breast reduction for gynecomastia. Call 415-915-9000 or schedule a consultation here.


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*Disclaimer: Results may vary from person to person. Editorial content, before and after images, and patient testimonials do not constitute a guarantee of specific results. All images feature models except for before and after images.

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