Enlarged male breasts or chest area, clinically known as gynecomastia, is a common condition that affects nearly sixty percent of all men throughout their lives. It usually appears during puberty as a result of hormonal imbalances and disappears by the age of 20. It can be unilateral or bilateral. However, the condition can also be induced by some medications or a side effect of certain diseases. In some cases, gynecomastia does not resolve on its own and surgical correction is often needed to address the problem and restore the masculine profile.
Although rarely discussed, we realize the adverse effects imposed on our patients by gynecomastia, such as poor self-esteem and feelings of discontent over one’s appearance. Fortunately, men suffering from this condition can find relief with one of the male breast reduction procedures offered by Dr. Barrett at Barrett Plastic Surgery. These treatments may remove a patient’s excess skin, fat and glandular tissue, leaving behind a flatter, firmer and more contoured chest.
From Dr. Barrett
“This procedure really hits home for me because as a youth I experienced gynecomastia. I definitely understand the impact this can have on a man’s self esteem and body image. Men aren’t supposed to have enlarged breasts! It takes a lot for men to even seek out help for this condition because they may feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. It’s important for men experiencing gynecomastia to know its a common condition and that there is a solution. The solution depends on each individual patient. I like to avoid scars on a man’s chest when possible because of its high visibility. Oftentimes liposuction is all that is needed but if an excision of tissue is required, this can be done with a very small incision.”
What is Gynecomastia?
Swollen or enlarged breasts characterize gynecomastia in men. There are varying degrees of the condition, with some gynecomastia cases becoming very pronounced and even resembling female breasts. The problem can occur in just one breast or both at the same time. Some men also experience tenderness of the breasts with the enlargement. In men, the condition tends to occur most frequently between the ages of 50 and 69, according to Mayo Clinic.
Gynecomastia does not typically indicate a severe medical issue. However, some of the diseases that lead to the condition can be concerning and might include:
- Hypogonadism, which is a severe reduction or absence of testosterone
- Hyperthyroidism caused by overproduction of the hormone thyroxine
- Some tumors, including those involving the pituitary or adrenal glands or the testes
- Cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure or treatments related to these conditions
- Starvation or malnutrition that can cause testosterone levels to drop
Because gynecomastia can be linked to these health concerns, it is always best to have the condition assessed by a physician that can determine the cause and propose treatment when appropriate.
What is Male Breast Reduction?
If an underlying cause cannot be identified and addressed, and the problem does not resolve on its own over time, male breast reduction may be necessary to reverse the condition and restore the male profile. Dr. Barrett offers different techniques for this treatment so that he can tailor the procedure to the needs of each patient. The right treatment for you will depend on how much correction you need and whether there is skin laxity to address along with the removal of breast tissue. With experience and expertise in this area, Dr. Barrett will be able to advise you on how to proceed with your male breast reduction after an in-person examination and discussion of your concerns and cosmetic goals.
Is Male Breast Reduction Right for You?
In most cases, patients can identify themselves as ideal breast reduction candidates if they suffer one or a combination of the following symptoms:
- Abnormally or disproportionately large breasts
- Puffy nipples
- Hormonal imbalances, including low testosterone or high estrogen levels
- Obesity that is accompanied by loose skin and significant fat deposits
- Considerable elastic or loose chest skin despite persistent diet and exercise
If you have tried other methods to address your gynecomastia, such as weight loss or a change of medications, and the problem persists, it is likely surgery will be the only solution that will have the dramatic and lasting effect you want.
Your Choice of Plastic Surgeon
Seeking male breast reduction is not easy for most men. It is vital that you select a plastic surgeon that understands the psychological impact of the condition, as well as having the experience and expertise to produce the best outcome for you. Dr. Barrett has had gynecomastia himself and has worked with numerous men struggling with gynecomastia. He will give you the attention and compassion necessary for you to be comfortable with the idea of moving forward with surgical treatment. He will also take the necessary time to understand your concerns and help you develop the treatment program that will meet your goals and expectations.
Benefits of Male Breast Reduction
When you undergo male breast reduction, you are likely to experience benefits that are both physical and psychological:
- More attractive and masculine upper body profile
- Better fit to clothing
- Renewed self-confidence, increased self-esteem
- Willingness to participate in more activities
- Greater confidence during intimacy with a partner
- Improved comfort with some physical activity and exercise
Choices in Male Breast Reduction
Dr. Barrett performs male breast reduction through two different methods:
When the breast enlargement is not severe and the skin has retained much of its firmness and elasticity, liposuction may be sufficient in producing the desired results. Dr. Barrett uses the revolutionary S.A.F.E. liposuction technique for this purpose, which consists of three basic steps:
- Separating the fat cells from the other breast tissue for easier removal
- Aspirating or removing the fat cells from the body
- Leaving a thin layer of fat underneath the dermis (fat equalization) to create a smoother, more natural result
Liposuction is less invasive than traditional breast reduction surgery and involves smaller incisions that minimize post-procedural scarring. For the right patient, this process can offer excellent sculpting results with less discomfort and downtime overall.
Surgical Breast Reduction
A small incision may be needed if liposuction does not remove all of the glandular tissue. Dr. Barrett will likely recommend traditional surgical breast reduction if there is more glandular tissue that is combined with a significant amount of loose skin. This procedure excises excess skin and removes the extra glandular tissue to produce a smoother contour. While the surgery requires more anesthesia and a longer recovery process than liposuction, the results can be dramatic and last a lifetime.
Preparing for Your Procedure
No matter which procedure you undergo, Dr. Barrett will have a few pieces of advice to help you prepare for your treatment day to ensure the surgery is both safe and successful. Some of the steps he might ask you to take would include:
- Quit smoking at least six weeks before your procedure to prevent complications related to nicotine
- Stop taking medications that could affect your surgical outcome, such as blood thinners and aspirin
- Talk to Dr. Barrett about supplements you might be taking, such as vitamin E and St. John’s Wort, since these can contribute to bleeding during and after surgery
- Take enough time off work to give your body ample time to heal and recuperate after your procedure
- Line up someone to drive you home since you will be given anesthesia for your surgery
If there are other instructions specific to your situation, Dr. Barrett will let you know at one of your appointments before your surgery. In addition, you are always welcome to call our office with any questions you might have as your procedure day draws near.
The day of your procedure will look a bit different, depending on the specific surgery that will be performed. If you have liposuction, you will be given local anesthesia or twilight sedation. Tiny incisions are made to allow for the insertion of a cannula into the fat deposit in the breast. A vibrating tip on the end of the cannula gently loosens the fat cells for easier elimination. Attached suction then takes the cells out the body. The incisions are often too small for sutures and are merely taped closed to allow for quicker healing.
Patients that are undergoing surgical breast reduction will likely undergo their procedure under general anesthesia. Incisions are carefully made in the natural folds of the skin to minimize visible scarring. Through the incisions, Dr. Barrett removes excess fat and glandular tissue to create a naturally flat chest contour. Excess skin is also eliminated for a smoother, firmer result. In some cases, liposuction may be added to this process to enhance the sculpted effect further. Dr. Barrett uses a layered approach when he sutures the incisions closed to reduce tension on the area and ensure better healing of the incision overall.
After Your Male Breast Reduction
Recovery from male breast reduction also varies depending on the procedure performed. Men who have liposuction usually resume their activities within three to four days. Strenuous exercise, especially heavy lifting, should be avoided for at least two weeks to give the breasts ample time to heal. A compression garment is typically recommended.
Surgical breast reduction requires a bit longer recovery time. While the occurrence of side effects varies between individuals, common ones include tenderness, temporary numbness, swelling caused by inflammation and possible bruising around the chest region. Dr. Barrett meets with all his patients once a week for six weeks to monitor their recovery. During the first two appointments, the layers of stitches are removed and replaced with tapes. After the taping period is over, he will prescribe a patented silicone scar gel to apply twice daily for three months to continue the healing process. Dr. Barrett will also provide specific instructions on how to best care for yourself during the recovery process, which will be tailored to your particular procedure.
New Body, New Confidence
Male breast reduction can have a profound impact on a man’s appearance, self-esteem and quality of life. The results can be dramatic and typically last a lifetime. If you want to find out more about your options for male breast reduction, contact Barrett Plastic Surgery today at 310-598-2648.