During puberty, men’s breasts enlarge in response to changes in hormone levels. Usually, the breasts shrink back to a normal size within two to three years. Unfortunately, in about 10% of men the breasts do not shrink back and remain prominent. Men with this problem are self-conscious and uncomfortable wearing knit shirts. Some are so embarrassed by their prominent breasts that they will not take their shirt off to go swimming. They usually wear baggy shirts, extra layers, or a compression garment such as Under Armour.
When prominent breasts affect a man’s body image and self-esteem, he usually decides to have treatment. Fortunately, this common condition can now be corrected by a simple day surgery procedure.
Following this procedure, men are much more confident about their appearance in knit shirts, around swimming pools and in intimate situations.
Why do men’s breasts enlarge?
When young, men’s breast tissue is mostly fibrous and glandular, gradually becoming more fatty with age. As a man gains weight, the fatty portion of the breasts can enlarge and make the breasts more prominent. Other causes of men’s breast enlargement are steroid use, such as for bodybuilding, marijuana use, and a few prescription drugs.
How are men’s breasts reduced?
In the past, prominent breasts were usually treated by surgical excision. An incision around the lower edge of the areola (the pigmented area around the nipple) was sometimes extended onto the chest. Because of the nature of this method, often there were irregularities and noticeable scars. It is rarely used today.
A typical blunt-tipped liposuction cannula is effective for thinning body fat layers, but not men’s breasts. This is because the blunt tip cannot penetrate dense, fibrous breast tissue. If a man’s breasts are mostly composed of fatty tissues, this technique may be somewhat effective, but it cannot remove the fibrous glandular tissue component.
A proven liposuction technique involves use of a special sharp cannula specifically designed for reducing men’s prominent breasts. It is far more effective than a blunt cannula and does not have the risks and limitations of open surgical excision.
I developed this special gynecomastia cannula with a plastic surgeon in Australia. It is now used by a large number of plastic surgeons and our technique was selected for inclusion in The Year Book of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery.
Through tiny incisions, this gynecomastia cannula easily removes the dense, fibrous glandular tissue, along with the breast fat, to fully reduce all components of the prominent breast tissue. During the procedure, care is taken to be sure that the resulting contours are as smooth, even, and symmetrical as humanly possible.
In some cases, tight inframammary fold are released with a special instrument so the skin redrapes better afterwards.
Reduction of prominent male breasts is usually done as a day surgery in the accredited office operating room facility. A light level of a short-acting general anesthetic is used so you are completely comfortable and not aware of anything. The one-quarter-inch incisions are closed with absorbable sutures beneath the skin and covered with small dressings.
What happens after surgery?
A thin compression vest is worn day and night for two weeks and during the day for two additional weeks. It can be removed for showering. The thin vest fits easily under a shirt or suit jacket. Massage of the area, beginning two or three days following surgery, seems to help reduce swelling and speeds recovery. There is very little pain following this procedure. Most bruising and swelling are gone by four weeks. The tiny scars fade over time and become inconspicuous.
Are activities restricted?
Most men are able to return to a desk job in two or three days after surgery and can resume full athletics without restriction by two weeks.
What are the risks?
Some of the risks include infection, bleeding, asymmetry, and contour irregularities. Detailed information is provided during the consultation.
What about love handles?
Often, men choose to reduce their prominent breasts at the same time as liposuction of the abdomen or flanks (love handles). These procedures can be combined easily with the same recovery period. The result is a much trimmer, more athletic-looking torso. Click here for information on liposuction.