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Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia is an enlargement or excess of male breast tissue. While this condition is not often discussed, gynecomastia affects 40 to 60 percent of all men, to some varying degree. The condition involves developing an excess amount of glandular tissue or fatty tissue in the breast area. There are many potential causes of gynecomastia and often times the exact cause is unknown.

How is the procedure performed?

There are two types of gynecomastia procedures available, depending on the type of breast tissue involved. If excess glandular tissue is the cause of the condition, this tissue will be cut from the body with a scalpel through an inconspicuous incision. This procedure can be done in conjunction with liposuction to remove excess fatty tissue.

Liposuction is used to extract excess amounts of fatty breast tissue in gynecomastia surgery. This is performed by inserting a thin tube, called cannula, into an inconspicuous incision in the breast area and carefully extracting excess tissues. In some cases, drains will be placed in the surgery site to draw off excess fluids that may accumulate after the surgery.

The gynecomastia surgery procedure is done under a general anesthetic or a local anesthetic plus sedation and takes between two and three hours. If drains are used, they are usually removed about three days after surgery. The complete recovery time is about four to six weeks.

Most patients return to work within a week of undergoing male breast reduction. The liposuction method is much less painful and causes less tissue trauma, so patients of this form of male breast reduction generally recover more quickly and experience less post-operative stiffness and pain. Using liposuction alone for male breast reduction may not be effective for patients whose condition results from glandular disorders.

Is gynecomastia surgery right for me?

During puberty, a temporary excess amount of glandular breast tissue can develop in young boys. This is normal and generally disappears within a few months to a year. In determining whether gynecomastia surgery is right for an individual, it is important to discover the cause of the condition. Gynecomastia can be caused by a series of factors, including:

  • steroid abuse
  • obesity
  • excessive marijuana or alcohol consumption
  • tumors
  • genetic disorders
  • chromosomal abnormalities
  • chronic liver disease
  • castration
  • medication side effects

Men who have gynecomastia may be eligible to receive surgery to reduce the size of their breasts. A patient who is interested in this type of procedure may wish to speak to a certified plastic surgeon to determine the cause of his condition.

If a patient's gynecomastia is the result of obesity, a surgeon may recommend that the patient first make attempts to correct the problem through exercise and weight loss. If the cause of gynecomastia is a prescription or other drug, those problems might need to be addressed before plastic surgery is considered. If symptoms include a dimpling of the skin or bloody discharge, immediate treatment should be sought.  These symptoms could indicate a more serious condition.

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