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Gynecomastia Surgery Procedure, Recovery Time & Complications

Gynecomastia surgery is the procedure to address enlarged breasts in males. Gynecomastia, also known as man boobs, is a very common condition that affects more than half of males. It develops due to hormonal imbalances that can be triggered by various factors, including puberty, obesity, liver disease, aging, steroid use, recreational drug abuse, and much more.

The surgery involves removing the breast glandular tissues properly to restore a more masculine contour of the chest.

Why do people opt for gynecomastia surgery?

Having man boobs can be very embarrassing for most males. It often acts as a social construct and also causes physical problems, such as backache, neck pain, shoulder pain, etc. In some cases, males may also experience nipple sensitivity or tenderness that can be very bothersome.

Considering all these symptoms, a male might choose to undergo gynecomastia surgery for medical reasons or for cosmetic reasons. It is an elective procedure that people often opt for to improve their self-esteem and confidence. At the same time, some people choose surgery to get rid of discomfort and pain.

Types of Gynecomastia & Their Treatment

Based on the composition of the breast tissues, gynecomastia is divided into two categories- true gynecomastia and pseudogynecomastia. The treatment option for each type is also chosen between liposuction and gland excision (or a combination of both).

  • True Gynecomastia- This type of male boobs has only glandular tissues present. The suitable treatment for this type is using the gland excision technique.
  • Pseudogynecomastia- In this type, the chest appears like breasts primarily due to fat deposits. The suitable treatment for this type of gynecomastia is liposuction.

Typically, both glandular tissues and fatty tissues are present in most males. Thus, both liposuction and gland excision techniques are combined to deliver the best results.

How to prepare for male breast reduction surgery (gynecomastia surgery)?

To prepare you for gynecomastia surgery, the doctor is likely to ask you to do the following- Get the recommended diagnostic tests done and provide the reports to the doctor’s team.

  • Take certain medications and avoid some, such as aspirin or blood thinners 2-3 weeks before the procedure.
  • Stop smoking entirely at least a month before. This is to ensure that your body is healthy and can heal properly. Smoking can greatly impair the healing process.
  • Avoid using herbal supplements and other medications that act as a trigger for hormonal imbalance.
  • Wear loose and comfortable clothes on the day of surgery.
  • Get admitted to the hospital early in the morning or at midnight.
  • Avoid eating or drinking anything 6 to 8 hours prior to the surgery.
  • If you need to take some prescribed medications, take them with a small sip of water.

Most of the instructions that you need to follow will be provided to you by the doctor’s team. They may also advise you to ask a friend or family member to accompany you during the procedure.

During Gynecomastia Surgery

On the day of surgery, an IV line will be placed in your arm. The nursing staff will give you a hospital gown to wear. Once the OT (operation theater) is ready, you will be taken to the room to begin the procedure.

  • Firstly, anesthesia will be administered to numb your body and put you to sleep. Either general anesthesia or intravenous sedation will be used for the procedure.
  • An incision will be made around the areola, and a scalpel is used to excise the breast glandular tissues.
  • If fatty tissues are present, a liposuction cannula is used to remove them. The doctor chooses the liposuction technique according to the patient’s profile.
  • After the desired contour is achieved, the incision is closed with stitches, and a drainage tube is placed between them.
  • The incision is then covered with bandages, and the patient is transferred to the recovery room.

What to expect after the procedure?

You can expect to feel nauseous or numb at the surgery site when you wake up. As the anesthesia wears off, you will regain sensations and might feel slight pain and discomfort. The doctor will keep you under observation for the next few hours to ensure that your vital signs are stable. If everything is alright, you’ll be given a compression garment and discharged within 24 hours.

The doctor will provide a recovery guide, diet chart, follow-up schedule, and other instructions regarding the precautions you should take during the recovery period.

Risks & Complications

Some common risks and complications associated with gynecomastia surgery are-

  • Blood clots or excessive bleeding
  • Asymmetrical results
  • Bruises or scarring
  • Infection in the wound
  • Loss of sensations in the nipples or chest area
  • Consistent pain
  • Damage to nerves, blood vessels, muscles, etc.
  • Fat necrosis
  • Fluid accumulation or blood accumulation
  • Poor wound healing

Most of these risks can be mitigated and complications can be managed by an experienced plastic surgeon.

Benefits of Male Breast Reduction Surgery

Male breast reduction surgery has both physical and psychological benefits.

  • You will be able to wear properly fitted clothes unhesitantly.
  • It will be easier to socialize when you don’t feel insecure or conscious about your body.
  • You can engage in physical activities without discomfort and pain.
  • It becomes easier to participate in water activities, especially swimming or having pool parties where you are required to wear swimsuits.
  • The pain in your back and neck will improve.
  • You won’t have to hunch forward to hide the enlarged breasts and affect your posture.
  • You will achieve a more masculine shape, and your confidence will ultimately improve.

Recovery after Gynecomastia Surgery

The complete recovery after male breast reduction surgery will happen at home. Throughout the recovery period, you’ll have to follow the instructions below-

  • Stick to a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. Prefer eating bland and soft foods in the initial days after surgery. Then switch to the normal diet.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking entirely until you have recovered properly.
  • Take proper rest in the first 2 days and resume basic activities gradually.
  • Restrain from performing any type of strenuous activity, including operating heavy machinery, exercising, or lifting heavy weights.
  • Do not stay in bed all day, as it can increase the risk of developing blood clots.
  • Try to walk in a few days and climb stairs but do not push your limits.
  • Wear the compression garment 24x7 for 2 weeks to support the chest muscles.
  • Take the prescribed pain medications as directed without fail.
  • Avoid driving while you are on pain medications.
  • Clean the wound with warm water and keep it dry.
  • Avoid swimming and bathing in hot tubs as it can increase the risk of infection in the wound.
  • Visit the doctor for follow-up consultations as suggested.