man looking down at his stomach

What is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is a benign enlargement of the male breast, resulting in a fuller look in the pectoral area of a male’s chest. This could be due to a hormone imbalance or hormone therapy. It is a very common condition, with up to 50% of males experiencing it in their lifetime.

What Causes Male Breasts?

An accumulation of excess fatty tissue in the pectoral region, called pseudogynecomastia, is the cause of gynecomastia. Though not necessarily caused by extra fat, weight can play into the look of your breasts.

Determine whether or not your nipples have become enlarged, perky, or erect – this could be a sign that the glands in your breasts have become enlarged as well. If the tissue underneath your breast is more firm versus soft, this could be another sign of gynecomastia; this problem will need to be rectified via surgery, not through diet and exercise.

Other factors that may contribute to male breasts include:

  • Medications
  • Health conditions
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Herbal products

What Are Your Options?

If changing your diet and implementing an exercise routine is not working to reduce the size of your chest, you may also choose to undergo male breast reduction or recontouring. Keep in mind that for some men, breast tissue cannot be reduced by diet and exercise alone. Often, teens will have enlarged breasts due to changing levels of sex hormones; however, in 90% of teens, their breasts will change shape and decrease in size on their own. Adult men are different; they may need to undergo surgery to correct this issue.

Why Get Surgery?
For many men, having a male breast reduction or recontouring of their chest has a significant psychological impact. Many patients reported an increase in confidence and a decrease in the social anxiety they had been experiencing from having gynecomastia. Once undergoing breast reduction surgery, many men felt that they were able to wear more stylish clothing, engage in more frequent social interactions, and have improved overall mental health.

In most cases, gynecomastia is not a serious problem; however, the psychological and physical effects can be painful, with men and boys experiencing embarrassment, self-esteem issues, or actual tangible pain in their breasts. Teen boys can experience bullying, and symptoms of depression can manifest in both adolescents and adults. In some cases, males may cover up their chest areas by wearing thick layers of clothing, no matter what the weather.

man holding a surfboard giving a thumbs up

What is the Surgical Process?
The procedure for a male breast reduction may be surgical excision or the use of liposuction. The choice of which procedure you should undergo depends on the type of excess tissue in your breast area and also the amount of tissue to be removed. If you have excessive fatty tissue, liposuction may be sufficient to reduce the size and improve the contour of your chest. A 3-4mm incision is made and a small tube is inserted.

If you have excess glandular tissue or excess skin that is unlikely to contract after liposuction, a surgical male breast reduction or mastectomy may be necessary.

What are the Results?
Be patient – the best results will be noticeable about three months post-op. At that point, all swelling should disappear. Many men report having more confidence/higher self-esteem, becoming happier with their appearance, and being able to enjoy their lives to a fuller extent.

If your weight remains unchanged, then the same goes for your breast reduction results. However, if you gain weight, some of it may be deposited back into your chest area, so take care to stay on a diet and exercise routine.

A 29-year-old male is bothered by the enlargement of his breasts. He has noticed breast enlargement since his early teens and it has not improved with weight loss. He underwent bilateral subcutaneous mastectomies with liposuction and he is pleased with his results. Postop pictures were taken 6 weeks after surgery.

How Long is Recovery?
It depends on the patient. The recovery process can take anywhere from 4 – 8 weeks. Light exercise should be okay after just four weeks, but more strenuous exercises, like weight training, should be held off until around eight weeks.

Final results may not become apparent until 6 months – 1 year after surgery; that is when the chest will settle into its final shape and contour. While this may seem like a lengthy waiting period, keep in mind that it will be well worth it once you are feeling confident and comfortable in your own skin.

Is Gynecomastia Right for You?
In order to be considered a good candidate for gynecomastia procedure, you should:

  • Be in good overall health, both physically and emotionally, with a desire to reduce the size and improve the shape of your pectoral area.
  • Have done your research. Look at ‘Before and After’ photos to get an idea of what your results may look like.
  • A non-smoker – Meaning cigarettes and marijuana.
  • Have realistic expectations of the procedure.
  • Over 18 years of age – teens are advised to wait until they are beyond puberty.
  • Have good skin elasticity.
  • Willing to follow the doctor’s post-op care and recommendations for recovery.

Whether you undergo liposuction or surgical excision for your male breast reduction, you will experience long-term, satisfying results, which reduce your excess breast tissue and redefine the shape of your chest in a more masculine line.