Gynecomastia Surgery (Male Breast Reduction)

Gynecomastia surgery (male breast reduction) removes excess breast tissue. The procedure may include liposuction, excision (using larger incisions) or a combination of both. People choose to have this procedure to improve self-confidence, enhance their appearance and reduce discomfort that can result from larger breasts.

Overview

A male chest before and after gynecomastia surgery, which reduces breast size in people with gynecomastia.
Before: Breast tissue is enlarged due to gynecomastia. After: Breast tissue is significantly reduced in gynecomastia surgery (male breast reduction).

What is gynecomastia surgery?

Gynecomastia surgery is a procedure to reduce the size of breast tissue in a person assigned male at birth. This surgery is also called male breast reduction and reduction mammaplasty. It helps people who have gynecomastia (enlarged male breast tissue).

People choose to have this procedure to remove excess tissue and fat from their breasts. Gynecomastia surgery can improve your self-image and confidence. Many people decide to have this procedure to enhance the way they look, either in clothing or when they aren’t wearing a shirt.

This procedure includes liposuction, surgery or both. Your provider will recommend the technique that’s right for you.

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Why do people get gynecomastia surgery?

A type of breast surgery, this procedure treats a condition called gynecomastia (enlarged male breast tissue). Gynecomastia can result from obesity and certain drugs or hormone changes that usually happen during adolescent development. But it can also affect older people as hormone levels shift. In severe cases, the excess breast tissue causes your breasts to sag and your areola (the dark skin that surrounds your nipple) to stretch.

This is an elective cosmetic surgery procedure. People choose this procedure to improve how they look and increase their self-esteem. Decreasing the size of their breast tissue can help them feel more comfortable in clothing. Some people choose the procedure to reduce pain and discomfort that can result from excess breast tissue.

How common is gynecomastia surgery (male breast reduction surgery)?

About 20,000 people get this surgery every year. Gynecomastia (the condition this surgery treats) is very common. It affects more than half of people assigned male at birth around the world.

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Procedure Details

What happens before gynecomastia surgery?

Before surgery, your provider will discuss your options, goals and medical history. Your provider may recommend a complete blood count (CBC) or other tests to evaluate your health and determine what’s causing gynecomastia.

They will examine you, measure your breast tissue and screen you for male breast cancer. They may also take photographs of your breasts.

You may need to stop taking certain medications, such as blood thinners, prior to surgery. If you smoke, ask your provider about quitting smoking before your procedure. Tobacco use can slow the healing process. The day before surgery, your provider will tell you when to stop eating and drinking. You should wear loose-fitting clothing when you arrive at the surgical center or hospital.

What happens during gynecomastia surgery?

In some cases, surgeons only use liposuction to remove breast tissue. They insert a suction hose through several small incisions (cuts) to remove fat.

If you have excess skin, fat and tissue, your provider may recommend excision. This technique uses larger incisions to remove breast tissue. Your provider can also reposition your nipple and areola during an excision procedure. The incision patterns, lengths and locations depend on the size of your breasts and your desired look.

You may need a combination of excision and liposuction. Your surgeon will recommend the technique that’s right for you. Before either technique, you’ll get general anesthesia through a vein in your arm. You’ll be asleep throughout the procedure and won’t feel pain during surgery.

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What happens after gynecomastia surgery?

Gynecomastia surgery is usually an outpatient procedure, which means you go home the same day. You’ll need to arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery. Your provider will tell you how to care for yourself and how to take care of your incisions when you go home.

You’ll have bandages and a supportive garment around your chest as you heal. The garment supports your chest and reduces swelling. Your provider will give you medications to relieve pain. These drugs also reduce swelling and lower the risk of infection.

Your provider may place thin tubes under your skin during surgery. The tubes drain fluid and blood during the healing process. The fluid collects at the bottom of the tube in a receptacle or bulb. Your provider will remove the tubes when you no longer need them.

Risks / Benefits

What are the advantages of gynecomastia surgery?

Many people who have this surgery feel more confident and comfortable with how they look. They may enjoy being able to button a shirt without gaps. Or they may feel more satisfied with their appearance in a t-shirt or swimsuit.

The weight of excess breast tissue can also cause discomfort or pain. After gynecomastia surgery, you may be able to jump, run and do activities that you found uncomfortable before.

What are the risks or complications of gynecomastia surgery?

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved with gynecomastia surgery. Complications include:

  • Blood clots or excessive bleeding.
  • Breasts that are not the same size or shape.
  • Bruises and scarring.
  • Infection.
  • Loss of sensation, numbness or decreased sensitivity in your breast area.
  • Pain that doesn’t go away.

All breast reduction procedures leave breast reduction scars. They will fade over time. But they never go away completely.

In some cases, you may need another surgery to correct a problem or help you achieve the results you want. Your surgeon will discuss your options and risks with you.

Recovery and Outlook

What is the recovery time after getting gynecomastia surgery?

You can expect to feel very sore the first few days after gynecomastia surgery. The discomfort and tenderness should get better within a week or so. Most likely, you’ll be able to go back to work in about two weeks.

While you’re healing, follow your provider’s instructions carefully. Avoid lifting or carrying anything heavy and reaching your arms above your head.

Keep in mind that you may not see results for about three to six months following surgery. It takes time for your breast tissue to heal and for swelling to decrease. Results are permanent. But you may need more than one surgery to get your desired result.

When to Call the Doctor

When should I see my healthcare provider after gynecomastia surgery?

After this procedure, call your provider right away if you have:

  • Bleeding or pus from the incision, or if the incision opens.
  • Severe pain or swelling.
  • Fever, redness and swelling near the incision (these are signs of infection).

Get immediate medical help if you have shortness of breath (dyspnea), chest pain or heart palpitations. These might be signs of complications from the anesthesia.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Gynecomastia surgery (male breast reduction) is an effective treatment for enlarged male breast tissue. This procedure can help you feel more confident and boost your self-esteem. It can also reduce discomfort or pain that can result from excess breast tissue, especially while doing activities that require jumping and running. But, as with any surgery, there are risks. When considering this procedure, have an open and honest discussion with your provider. Talk to your provider about your desired outcome, so you can set realistic goals together.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/18/2022.

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