Male Chest Contouring (Breast Reduction)
Gynecomastia (also known as “man-boobs”) is a fairly common condition in men and adolescent boys where the breast tissue is abnormally large. In the vast majority of cases, gynecomastia is not a serious problem and often associated with excess subcutaneous fat and skin. However, it may be psychologically difficult to cope with and can affect self-esteem. Fortunately, this condition can be effectively treated by surgical removal of excess breast tissue, liposuction of excess subcutaneous fat, and occasional removal of excess skin.
What It Can Do for You
It can give you a firmer, flatter, more sculpted chest.
Male breast reduction is a good choice for men with a prominent chest from excess breast tissue and fat, who are in good health and are at or close to a normal weight (it is not a weight reduction procedure).
What to Expect on Your First Visit
On your first visit, your surgeon will help you determine which techniques will benefit you and will discuss the surgery in detail during your consultation. Your options may include skin tightening, liposuction, and minimal scar approaches.
Male Chest Contouring (Breast Reduction) at a Glance
Day surgery time 1-2 hours
Recovery room up to 2 hours
May resume simple, non-strenuous activities in a couple of days
Return to full activity or work in 2 weeks to 1 month
The procedure involves day surgery with a general anaesthetic. You will be able to go home a couple of hours after the anesthetic wears off but should have someone drive you home. Parts of this procedure may be covered by your health insurance; however, for many patients, this is considered a private or cosmetic procedure.
The surgical techniques that are used depend on the specific anatomical concerns.
Recontouring Chest with Liposuction
If the breasts are enlarged because of excess fat, typically the fatty tissue can be removed with liposuction techniques alone. This involves inserting a thin, hollow tube under the skin and using it to loosen unwanted fat; then, removing the fat from the body with vacuum suction.
To achieve a great result with liposuction alone, the chest skin must be resilient so it can contract over the smaller breasts after surgery. If the skin is loose, stretched out or wrinkled, liposuction alone will generally not provide the desired result.
Recontouring Chest with Surgical Excision
On the other hand, if the breasts are oversized due to excess glandular tissue and/or excess stretched skin, the tissue and/or skin must be excised (i.e., surgically removed). This is generally the case with more severe cases. Surgical excision allows our plastic surgeons to eliminate a greater amount of tissue and/or skin that cannot be treated with liposuction alone.
Recontouring Chest with a Combined Approach
Commonly, surgical excision with liposuction is performed to address a combination of excess fat, glandular tissue and skin.
Incisions and Scarring
The incisions for male breast reduction vary in location and length, depending on the case. Our plastic surgeons always try to place incisions carefully so that resulting scars are as discreet as possible.
In cases where liposuction alone can provide the desired results, the liposuction cannulas can be inserted through tiny incisions along the edge of the areola (the pigmented skin surrounding the nipple) or discretely on the lateral chest. When surgical excision is necessary, our plastic surgeons create a slightly longer incision around the edge of the areola. The incisions are placed such that the resulting scars blend in with the natural transition from areola to chest skin; the scarring is usually quite inconspicuous.
If you have a very physical job, we recommend taking 4 weeks off. If your job is fairly sedentary or you are a student, you may return to it as early as one week after surgery. You need to avoid activities that may increase your blood pressure, such as running or working out, until at least 4-6 weeks after surgery.
There will be some post-operative bruising, swelling, and a burning sensation, as well as scarring around the nipple of the breast (areola), which will fade over time. Other (infrequent) complications could include anesthetic reaction, temporary numbness or lack of sensation that could last up to a year, infection, skin damage, fluid accumulation, bleeding, and scarring or pigment changes. Post-operative asymmetry, while rare, is possible; a second procedure may be needed to remove additional tissue.
The cost varies based on whether there is glandular tissue, fat and/or skin excess. Surgery can vary from simple liposuction to complex recontouring of the chest involving liposuction, gland excision and redraping of the skin envelope.
Male Chest Contouring FAQs
Are there different types or classifications of gynecomastia patients?
Yes, enlargement of the male breast tissue happens in different ways for different types of people. For example, patients who were once obese and have lost substantial weight will often experience loose folds of skin on the chest. The amount of this excess skin depends on whether a patient’s skin is flexible enough to shrink as fat volume is reduced. Patients with normal weight often see glandular enlargement, the type of gynecomastia that is triggered by changes in hormones. Patients with a very low BMI, including bodybuilders, may develop an enlarged breast profile when excess tissue develops behind the areola. This tissue often feels like a solid lump. Each type of patient will require a different surgical solution, ranging from removal of tissue through a small incision to removal supplemented by liposuction or a procedure that involves surgically cutting away excess skin.
Will I have scarring?
If liposuction is all that is necessary to treat your gynecomastia, your surgeon will make two small incisions to insert the narrow tube that will suction out fat cells. In cases where glandular tissue needs to be removed with an excision procedure, incisions will be necessary along the bottom of the areolas. All scars are carefully placed and will fade with time. In addition, men have the advantage of chest hair to hide any surgical marks.
Can liposuction completely resolve gynecomastia?
It depends upon whether the excess volume in the breast area is caused by a growth of fat or glandular tissue. Hormones are most often responsible for excessive glandular volume, and in this case, liposuction will not be as effective as excision, which involves cutting away this unwanted tissue. If you are overweight, there is a good chance that most of the breast volume is comprised of fat. Men who are thin or who have taken steroids usually need to undergo an excision procedure to restore a masculine profile. In some patients, using both liposuction and excision will be appropriate.
Should the surgeon remove as much fat as possible?
Gynecomastia requires both skill and artistry in a plastic surgeon. Shaping a natural profile involves removing strategic amounts of fat and glandular tissue, rather than performing an extensive reduction that will create surface depressions or, in overweight patients, may make the chest seem unnaturally out of proportion with the abdomen. This is especially true if the patient later loses a great deal of weight. The experienced Surrey area plastic surgeons of the Plastic Surgery Group at City Centre know that a satisfying result depends on the aesthetic appeal of the new profile, not the quantity of fat removed.