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Male Breast Reduction (Gynocomastia)

Breast reduction, technically known as reduction mammaplasty, is a surgical procedure designed to remove fat, glandular tissue, and skin from the breasts, making them smaller, lighter, and firmer. This procedure can also reduce the size of the areola, the darker skin surrounding the nipple.

Gynecomastia (enlargement of the male breast) is not an uncommon condition, affecting as many as 40 percent of men. This condition may affect either one or both breasts. The majority of the cases have no known cause while the others might be related to the use of certain drugs and or medical conditions.

The goal of breast reduction is to create smaller, better-shaped breasts in proportion with the rest of the body.

How is male breast reduction performed?

The type of procedure used by your surgeon will depend on the degree of breast enlargement. The options include removal of the tissue under the breast, or liposuction of the chest wall. In both instances, a small elliptical incision is made on the lower half of the nipple area (areola). For those men with tissue that is more glandular in nature, all breast tissue directly under the nipple is removed.

If the tissue is more fatty in nature, liposuction can provide excellent results. In some people, ultrasonic assisted liposuction is an excellent approach. During liposuction, a small suction rod (cannula) is inserted into the incision to remove fat and other tissue.

In some cases, a repeat procedure is necessary to remove tissue that was missed during the first procedure. In a few cases, if there is a large amount of extra skin, it may be necessary to remove this tissue, which may result in a large scar.

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How long does male breast reduction take?

The procedure usually takes one to two hours.

What type of anesthesia is used?

Male breast reductions are performed under local anesthesia combined with a sedative to make you feel drowsy and relaxed. General anesthesia may also be used, causing you to be asleep during the whole procedure.

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Where is the procedure performed?

This procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis, in the surgeon's office-based surgical suite, an outpatient surgery center or hospital.

When can I return home and resume normal activities?

Generally breast reduction is done on an ambulatory basis but in some cases may require an overnight stay. However, it is necessary that you have someone pick you up after the procedure and assist you with your daily activities for the first 24 hours.

Most men return to their usual activities in one week. However, you must not lift anything for the first two weeks and do no heavy lifting for the first four weeks. Avoid raising your arms above your head for at least two weeks.

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How do I prepare for the male breast reduction procedure?

During your initial consultation, your surgeon will discuss the changes that you would like to make to your appearance. Since the appearance of your breasts is a matter of personal perception and preference, you will need to discuss your concerns in detail so your surgeon can determine the appropriate alternatives. Your surgeon will explain how your age, the size and shape of your breasts, and the condition of your skin may affect the results of this procedure. You also should make arrangements ahead of time for someone to drive you to and from your procedure and to assist you with your daily activities during your recovery period.

Prior to your surgical procedure, the surgeon will perform a complete health history and physical. This will include examining and measuring your breasts, as well as photographing them as a frame of reference during the surgery and afterwards. Your surgeon may also require you to have a mammogram (breast x-ray). Knowledge of your allergies, medications and previous surgeries should be brought to your surgeon's attention at this time. Specific instructions to assist you in preparing for this procedure will be given to you after the health history and physical is complete. Depending on your individual health status, the instructions may include guidelines regarding your diet, alcohol intake, smoking and which medications to take or avoid. Your experience will be much smoother if you remain compliant with your surgeon's instructions.

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What precautions are necessary during recovery?

Light activities can be resumed within a few days, although your chest will be sore. Most people are able to return to work within three to seven days, and resume more strenuous activities in two to three weeks. You should avoid exposing the operated area to the sun for at least six months to prevent permanently altering the skin pigmentation.

Routine physical activity and exercising (especially lifting, pulling and pushing motions) should be avoided for at least six weeks. This will help the scars to heal. Your doctor will advise you on the level of physical activity that is appropriate for you. Some degree of swelling and bruising may last for three to six months.

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What are the possible complications after male breast reduction surgery?

All surgery has some potential risks, including the risks of bleeding, reaction to the anesthetic, and infection. In this surgery, serious complications are quite rare. Other potential risks include; excessive fluid loss, skin injury, rippling of the skin, excessive scarring, pigmentation changes, altered sensation. Like all body contouring surgery, it is possible that either too much or too little tissue can be removed. In these cases, a second procedure may be necessary.

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What results can I expect after male breast reduction surgery?

Usually, the chest is temporarily swollen and bruised after the surgery. You may also experience numbness or a burning sensation. You will probably be given a compression garment to wear for several weeks after the surgery. If you have severe pain or discharge in the surgical area, or if you experience muscle aches, dizziness or a general ill feeling with fever, nausea or vomiting, you should call your doctor immediately. After healing, most men are very happy with the results.

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