The Surgeon Minute

Getting It Off His Chest: Plastic Surgery for Men

Getting It Off His Chest: Plastic Surgery for Men

Plastic surgery and breasts go hand in hand.  Everyone is familiar with procedures that enhance the shape of the female chest, but many people are not aware of the many men who would benefit from the confidence-boosting surgical treatment of overdeveloped breast tissue; a condition known as gynecomastia.  It’s a devastating problem for a man, causing him to feel uncomfortable in tight fitting clothes.  Men with gynecomastia are also very uncomfortable being seen in public without their shirts on, so they often spend their lives avoiding any time spent by a pool or at a beach.

by Anne Meyer
and Richard Zienowicz, MD

Causes

At puberty, hormones cause as many as 60-75% of adolescent boys to experience some amount of gynecomastia.  Fortunately, most of those cases resolve on their own as the boys continue to mature.  If gynecomastia persists after several years, a surgeon may consider using surgery to treat the overdeveloped breasts of a teenager.

Dr. Richard Zienowicz, a board certified plastic surgeon in Rhode Island, sees far less adolescent males in his office for gynecomastia surgery than adult males.   “Late twenties to late forties is one of the more prevalent age groups,” he says.  Athletes and bodybuilders who take steroids may experience gynecomastia as a side effect. Steroids, which are natural or synthetic hormones taken to stimulate muscle growth, often end up stimulating permanent breast tissue growth.  There are other prescription drugs on the market that can affect a man’s hormones, giving them the possible added side effect of enlarged breasts.   “Gynecomastia can also be associated with pot smoking,” adds Dr. Zienowicz.  “Cannabis will initiate the tissue growth, and that’s a prevalent situation in our society today.” Not all causes of enlarged male breasts are hormone related.  After massive weight loss, many men are left with extra sagging skin and some extra tissue in the chest that can cause them to feel self conscious, but that no amount of exercise can get rid of. 

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Surgery & Recovery

The excess fullness removed during surgery for gynecomastia is taken from above the chest muscles, below the skin.  This means that the recovery is an easy one, with minimal swelling.  Most patients wear a special compression garment for a few weeks after surgery to assist with healing, and are back to work within a week.   The incisions are camouflaged by being placed in the pink area around the nipple.  

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When Dr. Zienowicz is explaining the procedure to his patients, he points out that it’s important to realize that the goal of surgery is not to “flatten” the chest entirely. “We want to preserve a male chest, which has got some muscularity to it.”  

Surgery to treat gynecomastia is a life changing procedure for many men.  If a man in your life is struggling from self esteem issues stemming from enlarged breasts, encourage him to take the first step and learn more about the surgical treatments that are available to safely and quickly solve the problem.  “Once this change has been made,” says Zienowicz, “It’s just amazing what happens in terms of the transformation.”  

 

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