Male breast reduction is the treatment and correction of enlarged breasts in men. The medical term for this condition is gynaecomastia, colloquially known as “man boobs”.

Fast Facts

  • Gynaecomastia is a common condition, affecting over 50% of teenagers and 30% to 65% of men.
  • This surgery removes fat and glandular tissue in the breast through liposuction.
  • Most men experience very little pain with this surgery.
  • When you wake up in the recovery room, you will be bandaged to support your chest as it heals.
  • Your surgeon will have given you instructions, such as icing the area to reduce inflammation.
  • A possible complication of this surgery is a temporary loss of sensitivity or reduced sensation in the nipple or surrounding area.

Gynaecomastia is a common condition, affecting over 50% of teenagers and between 30% and 65% of men. In adolescent boys, it often goes away by itself. It is generally attributed to an imbalance of sex hormones or increased tissue sensitivity to these hormones. However, there is a wide range of other causes, such as hereditary, drug use (both prescribed medication and other chemicals) or chronic disease. Even if you don’t want to have surgery, it is worth talking to your doctor if you are a man with enlarged breasts.

The severity of this condition can vary considerably, from slightly puffy nipples (pseudogynaecomastia) to large female-looking breasts. Overweight men can also appear to have this condition, but it may be excess fat, not breast tissue. A doctor will be able to diagnose gynaecomastia correctly. If it is only fat, liposuction or a weight-loss programme might be the appropriate way to go.

Reasons for choosing to have
male breast reduction

Men with gynaecomastia often feel self-conscious. They typically avoid going shirtless and refuse to wear revealing clothing such as tight t-shirts. Some men even wear jumpers during summer just to hide their condition.

As breasts are a female trait, gynaecomastia can understandably make a man feel un-masculine. It can have an impact on a man’s self esteem and may lead to anxiety and depression. For some men with gynaecomastia, cosmetic surgery can give them the confidence boost they need to feel good about themselves.

There are alternatives, however, to having surgery. For some men, especially when obesity is also an issue, working out, improving diet and losing weight can help. In cases where gynaecomastia is caused by another medical condition or the side effect of a drug, investigating these causes first may reduce or reverse gynaecomastia without the need for surgery.

If you decide to have surgery, realistic expectations will help you get the most from your procedure. The breast tissue can be removed, but you will not come out of the surgery with six-pack abs or body-builder muscles. Going through any type of cosmetic surgery is simply not worth it if you are not going to be happy with the results.

Men often find it very difficult to talk about their breasts, but starting the dialogue with someone who understands the condition is the best way to overcome it.

What to expect

This surgery removes fat and glandular tissue in the breast through liposuction. The procedure usually takes less than two hours and is often performed on an outpatient basis. You will more than likely be sent home a couple of hours after you’ve recovered from the anaesthesia.

Most men experience very little pain with this surgery, but your surgeon will prescribe pain medication just in case.

Before and after surgery

There are several things you can do leading up to any kind of surgery to improve the experience.

Before your procedure, make sure everything you need (food, clean clothes) is within easy reach and below chest level so you don’t have to raise your arms. You may have to wear a tight-fitting top or a compression garment to support your chest for about a week following surgery. Talk to your surgeon about what you will need.

There are also a number of things you can do following any surgery.

When you wake up in the recovery room, you will be bandaged to support your chest as it heals. Your surgeon will have given you instructions, such as icing the area to reduce inflammation. A bag of frozen peas makes an excellent ice pack.

Resist the urge to look under your bandages. Keep them on until you next see your surgeon. You don’t want to get an infection by exposing the wound area.

Itching is common after surgery. It will resolve as you heal.

Your scars can take as much as a year to fully diminish or disappear. Follow your surgeon’s instructions on scar-healing treatments.

You should expect to be back to most normal activities about a week after a gynaecomastia procedure. It is important to pay attention to proper diet and exercise regularly to ensure gynaecomastia does not recur.

Risks and complications

As with any surgical procedure there are risks involved in gynaecomastia surgery. You should be fully aware of these before you consider surgery. The best way to reduce risk is to find a fully qualified surgeon with formal training in gynaecomastia who has performed the procedure many times.

Make sure you familiarise yourself with the list of complications that could arise as a result of any surgery.

A possible complication of this surgery is a temporary loss of sensitivity or reduced sensation in the nipple or surrounding area. This loss is rarely permanent. Massaging the area during recovery can reduce excess nipple sensitivity after sensation has returned.

Depending on its underlying cause, gynaecomastia can return. Staying fit and healthy and in control of your weight will help to reduce the chance of recurrence.

Rough costs involved

Surgeon, anaesthetist and hospital costs will vary. A rough estimate of how much this procedure usually costs is somewhere between $6000 and $10000 (AUD). Some private health insurers in Australia may help with hospital bed and theatre fees. Having a doctor’s referral will enable you to claim some of this cost.

You should expect the costs to be higher if you are having combined procedures at the same time.

This information is correct as of 2019.

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