What You Need to Know About Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia, or enlargement of the male breast, affects up to 60 percent of men at some point in their life. Although it is not a serious medical condition, it can have a major impact on self-esteem. Enlarged tissue on the chest can appear as early as infancy, but it often becomes more pronounced during puberty and throughout the teen years.
Gynecomastia is one of the most common reasons male patients visit Upper East Side board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Mark Schwartz, who uses a variety of treatment options to reduce the appearance of male breasts and restore more natural, masculine contours.
Determining the Cause of Gynecomastia
A variety of factors can contribute to the development of excess skin, fat and glandular tissue associated with gynecomastia, including hormonal imbalance, obesity, impaired liver function, genetic abnormalities, marijuana or steroid use and the natural aging process. Dr. Schwartz takes a detailed medical history and performs a thorough exam to determine the specific cause of a patient’s gynecomastia before surgery in the event that other medical treatment is necessary.
Treatment Techniques for Gynecomastia
The three main techniques Dr. Schwartz uses for gynecomastia surgery are liposuction, glandular excision and a combination of the two. The ideal approach depends on whether the enlargement is caused by excess fat, glandular tissue or both. When there is mostly fatty tissue, liposuction alone is often indicated. Dr. Schwartz makes several small, inconspicuous incisions that allow him to insert a thin cannula to suction the excess fat. With proper post-op care, these small incisions are generally undetectable once healed.
In cases where significant glandular tissue exists, Dr. Schwartz recommends excision to improve a patient’s gynecomastia. In order to accomplish this, an incision is made around the border of the areola to allow for the removal of glandular tissue. The incision is closed with dissolvable sutures. These incisions fade amazingly well since they fall in the border of the dark areola skin and the chest skin.
In many circumstances, there are significant amounts of fatty tissue and glandular tissue, in which case Dr. Schwartz is likely to use a combination of liposuction and excision. In severe cases, such as extreme weight loss where there is poor skin elasticity, it may be necessary to remove excess skin and occasionally to reposition the nipple to achieve the optimal end result.
Recovering from Male Breast Reduction
Recovery after gynecomastia surgery varies depending on the techniques used. In general, patients are sent home wearing a compression garment and may have drains if tissue is excised. Expect to spend the first two to three days after surgery taking it easy at home. It is important to avoid strenuous activity involving the shoulders and arms for the first two weeks or so. Mild discomfort is common after anesthesia wears off, but most patients find it manageable with Extra-Strength Tylenol. Patients often return to work and somewhat restricted activity within a week. Most patients are generally able to resume low-impact activities two to three weeks after surgery, and upper-body resistance exercise four to six weeks after surgery.
It is very important to avoid sun exposure for at least six weeks after surgery, as this can lead to permanent discoloration and more visible scars. As with other surgical procedures, patients may experience temporary numbness in and around the treated areas. This is temporary, and normal sensation should return within a month. Patience is key after gynecomastia surgery as it can take a few months for swelling to fully subside and final results to become apparent.
Call 212.737.9090 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation with plastic surgeon Dr. Mark H. Schwartz to learn more about gynecomastia and the variety of treatment options.