What is gynaecomastia?
All men have breast tissue made up of glandular tissue and fatty tissue. Gynaecomastia is a condition where too much breast tissue has developed.
Is gynaecomastia surgery suitable for me?
For most teenagers, gynaecomastia goes away as your hormone levels naturally get into balance. However, in some men the condition is permanent. If there is an underlying cause, your surgeon will aim to treat this first.
Gynaecomastia is not life-threatening but you may want to have the excess tissue removed if you feel embarrassed by the condition.
What are the benefits of surgery?
Your chest should have a more male appearance and both sides should look similar to each other.
Most men who have a successful operation are more comfortable with their appearance.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
You may be able to take medication to prevent further growth.
If you are overweight and your gynaecomastia is caused mainly by fatty tissue, losing weight may lead to a reduction in the gynaecomastia. If the condition is fully developed and an underlying cause cannot be identified or treated, surgery is the only way of removing the excess tissue.
What does the operation involve?
The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic and takes 30 minutes to an hour for each side that needs to be treated.
If you have only a small amount of excess tissue and good skin elasticity, the operation may involve only liposuction to remove the fat through a small cut.
If you have a firm disc of glandular tissue, your surgeon may also need to make a cut so they can remove the tissue.
For severe gynaecomastia, where there is a lot of excess skin, your surgeon will remove the excess tissue and skin.
What complications can happen?
- Infection of the surgical site (wound)
- Blood clots
- Unsightly scarring
- Skin burns
- Changes to skin colour
- Irregular body shape where fat has been removed
- Fat embolus
- Making a hole in your skin
- Injury to small nerves that supply your skin
- Developing a collection of fluid under your skin
- Developing a collection of blood under your skin
- Developing an abscess
- Loss of skin, including the areola and nipple if you have severe gynaecomastia
- Change in nipple sensation
- Stiff shoulder
- Cosmetic problems
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home the same day if you had only liposuction, or the next day when any drains have been removed.
Rest for a few days and do only light activities.
You should be able to return to work after a week, depending on your type of work.
Do not lift anything heavy or do strenuous exercise for three weeks. Most men return to normal activities after four to six weeks.
The best results for you will happen if you keep to a healthy weight and exercise regularly.
Surgery for gynaecomastia is a cosmetic operation to remove excess tissue from your chest. You should consider the options carefully and have realistic expectations about the results.
Author: Mr Paul Roblin MSc FRCS (Plast.)
This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.