A surprisingly large number of men are affected by a condition called gynecomastia or overdeveloped male breasts. Gynecomastia can affect one or both breasts, and often the cause is unknown.

While a man’s physical health is unaffected by gynecomastia, he may feel self-conscious and uncomfortable about his chest. Breast-reduction surgery for gynecomastia offers a safe solution.

Who is a good candidate?

The best candidates for gynecomastia are healthy men with skin that is still elastic enough to adjust to breast reduction.

Men who are overweight should first attempt to lose weight with the help of a physician-directed exercise and weight loss program. In addition, men who drink alcohol excessively or smoke marijuana generally are not considered good candidates for surgery, because these substances, along with anabolic steroids, have been linked to gynecomastia. Discontinuing their use may diminish breast overdevelopment enough so that surgery is not required.

What is the risk?

All surgeries carry some degree of risk. Risks associated with gynecomastia surgery include infection, skin injury or excessive bleeding. The procedure may also leave noticeable scars, permanent pigment changes in the breast area, or slightly mismatched breasts or nipples, although a second procedure may correct unevenness. Side effects of breast reduction surgery may include loss of breast sensation or numbness.

How is the surgery performed?

Gynecomastia correction usually is performed on an outpatient basis using general anesthesia or local anesthesia plus sedation. The surgery usually takes about an hour and a half to two hours.

Gynecomastia involves making an incision usually around the nipple in order to remove fat and/or glandular tissue from the breasts. Sometimes it is necessary to remove excess skin as well. In such cases, additional incisions are required. Your plastic surgeon may recommend performing liposuction in conjunction with gynecomastia correction. This usually can be achieved by using the existing incisions.

What about recovery?

For a few days following gynecomastia, you may feel some discomfort that can be controlled with pain medication. You likely will experience bruising and swelling, which can be minimized by wearing a pressure garment for up to two weeks. Most patients find that they are back to their normal activities within a month.

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