Male Breast Reduction
Though people rarely speak of gynecomastia by name, it’s actually an extremely common condition. Derived from the Greek roots for “women-like breasts”, gynecomastia is the medical name for a condition impacting an estimated 40-60% of males. In most cases of gynecomastia, no established cause is found, although particular medical issues and drugs have been associated with the overdevelopment of breasts in men. Gynecomastia may affect both of a man’s breasts or just one, in either case often negatively affecting his self-esteem. When this occurs, breast-reduction surgery is one option men have available to them. In this procedure, Dr. Leonard removes excessive glandular tissue and/or fat from the patient’s breasts, in more severe cases even removing excess skin, leaving behind a firmer, flatter and more contoured chest.
Who Makes a Good Candidate for Male Breast Reduction?
When a man considers gynecomastia, it’s imperative that he do so for the right reasons, namely those that originate within himself. If, however, other people’s wishes or outside expectations are causing a man to consider gynecomastia, he should seriously reconsider. No man should obligate himself to fulfilling another person’s or culture’s image of the ideal male body.
Besides feeling uncomfortable about the size of his breasts, other signs that a man may be a good candidate for gynecomastia include the following:
* He’s physically fit and generally healthy, weighing a normal weight.
* No medical conditions or life-threatening illnesses are present that could interfere with the healing process.
* His expectations of results are realistic.
* The development of his breasts has stabilized.
* Alternative medical options are unable to correct the condition.
* He’s a non-smoker and doesn’t use drugs.
* He has an optimistic attitude and set goals for alleviating his gynecomastia symptoms.
What Are the Risks and Uncertainties?
All surgeries come with some level of their own risk and uncertainty. In the case of male breast reduction, these risks and uncertainties are rare and relatively minor, especially when the surgery is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon like Dr. Leonard. Even so, the possibility for them remains. These potential risks and uncertainties associated with male breast-reduction surgery include:
* skin injury
* excessive bleeding
* excessive loss or accumulation of fluid
* an adverse reaction to the anesthesia used
In addition, there could be noticeable post-surgical scarring, changes in pigment in the related area and asymmetry, or a possible mismatch in the appearance and orientation of breasts or nipples. In the case of extreme asymmetry, Dr. Leonard may recommend that a second surgery be performed to remedy it by removing more tissue. Possible side effects of male breast-reduction surgery include temporary numbness or loss of sensation in the breast area lasting for up to one year.
How to Prepare for Male Breast-Reduction Surgery
One of the most critical parts of male breast-reduction surgery comes before the patient and doctor ever enter the operating room. It all begins in that crucial first consultation between them. Therefore, when you first meet with Dr. Leonard, be sure to bring with you or provide access to all your medical records. That way, he can have your full medical history at his disposal before he even begins his examination of you.
During your initial examination, Dr. Leonard will look for the cause or causes of your gynecomastia symptoms. For example, he will check to see whether the use of any anabolic steroids or medications containing estrogen is involved. He will also check your liver function for any possible impairments. If any medical issue appears to be related to your gynecomastia symptoms, Dr. Leonard will first refer you to the necessary specialist before considering whether to proceed with surgery.
In certain cases, Dr. Leonard may additionally request a breast x-ray or mammogram. In addition to revealing the breast’s composition, these procedures can also help to rule out breast cancer as a possible factor. By knowing the proportions of fat to glandular tissue in your breasts, Dr. Leonard is better empowered to pick the most appropriate surgical approach for your specific situation and needs.
This initial consultation is also the perfect time to ask Dr. Leonard any questions you may have about your condition or the procedure and express any concerns, including about the cost. Some insurance policies cover male breast-reduction surgery while others do not. If you’re considering gynecomastia treatment, check with your insurance provider to see what treatments are covered, and get a written pre-authorization for any procedures Dr. Leonard suggests for you.
Once an approach is determined and a procedure scheduled, Dr. Leonard will help you prepare for the surgery by providing explicit guidelines for what you should and shouldn’t eat and drink as well as recommendations for certain vitamins and minerals to start taking. Furthermore, those who smoke are advised to abstain from smoking for at least one to two weeks preceding and following surgery, as smoking lowers blood circulation and can therefore impede healing.
For effective results and a smooth, successful healing process, it is vital that patients follow Dr. Leonard’s instructions completely.
Steps of the Procedure
Reduction mammaplasty is the name for the plastic surgery procedure used to correct gynecomastia. In addition to reducing the size of the breasts, it also flattens and enhances the contours of the chest. In extreme cases, where the excess tissue is so heavy it causes a sagging of the breasts and a stretching of the areolae, extra skin can be removed and the areola’s size and position improved.
Anesthesia for Gynecomastia
For the patient’s comfort during a reduction mammaplasty procedure, Dr. Leonard may recommend one of two types of anesthesia be used. He may suggest using general anesthesia or an intravenous sedative.
Liposuction for Gynecomastia
If excess fatty tissue is the primary cause of a man’s gynecomastia, all that may be necessary to correct it is liposuction treatment. In this procedure, Dr. Leonard inserts a hollow, thin tube known as a cannula through a series of minor incisions. This tube is then moved around in order to loosen up the fat and make it easier to remove through vacuum suction. A variety of liposuction techniques are available to use in such situations. Which one is most appropriate for you, Dr. Leonard will determine prior to treatment.
Excision for Gynecomastia
When glandular tissue and/or excess skin is involved in a man’s gynecomastia symptoms, then procedures to excise that tissue from the body are necessary in order to reduce and reshape his chest. If a reduction in the size of the areola or a repositioning and re-contouring of the nipple is desired, then excision is also the procedure required. The incision patterns Dr. Leonard uses in excision procedures vary based on the specific condition being treated and particular surgical preferences.
Scarring After Gynecomastia
All surgical treatments for gynecomastia require some amount of incisions. When healed, these incision lines are likely to produce some amount of scarring. Most of these incisions wind up hidden by the contours of the breasts. However, some scars may remain visible and must be considered a natural consequence of male breast-reduction surgery.
Some degree of discomfort is to be expected for a few days following any of the procedures for correcting gynecomastia. Dr. Leonard may prescribe medication to alleviate some of this discomfort. Despite this, it’s recommended that a companion accompany the patient to his surgery to drive him home and, if possible, stick around for a day or two afterward to help out.
In the days and weeks immediately following surgery, the breasts will look bruised and feel swollen, leading to the common misconception that there’s been no improvement achieved at all. Of course, most of this will dissipate within the first few weeks, though you can aid in reducing the swelling with an elastic pressure garment Dr. Leonard will likely recommend you wear for a week or so continuously and for a bit longer only at night thereafter. It could take three months or longer for the actual results of male breast-reduction surgery to become apparent.
Nevertheless, Dr. Leonard will recommend you get back to your normal life as soon as possible after surgery. He will advise you to start walking around that very day and to return to work as soon as you feel able to do so. Often this is within just a day or two following surgery. Dr. Leonard will typically remove any stitches around one or two weeks following surgery.
Dr. Leonard may, however, suggest that you avoid sexual activity during the first week or two following surgery and that you avoid exercise during the first three weeks. Furthermore, any sport, activity or job that poses a risk of impact to the chest should be avoided for a minimum of four weeks following surgery. After about a month, most patients find themselves able to return fully to life as normal.
One risk factor that outlasts the recovery period is the sun. Avoid exposing post-surgical scars to direct sunlight for at least six months after surgery. If you simply can’t avoid exposure to the sun, then use a powerful sunblock. Sunlight can permanently darken scar tissue, causing a discoloration in the breast’s pigmentation.
The New You
Thanks to gynecomastia surgery, men can find renewed confidence and self-esteem. As long as your expectations are realistic, you can permanently and significantly improve your appearance.