The Surgeon Minute

Switching from Gynecomastia to a Flat Chest with Surgery

Switching from Gynecomastia to a Flat Chest with Surgery

Sometimes referred to as “man boobs,” gynecomastia is a common condition in men. It affects about 36% of young men and 57% of older men. Sufferers complain of feeling self-conscious in certain clothing, like t-shirts and golf shirts, and often won’t participate in activities that require them to take off their tops. And, perhaps most importantly, they feel debilitating embarrassment.

Yet many men with gynecomastia suffer in silence when there is a surgical cure. “Gynecomastia is really just breast prominence in men,” explains Dr. Ned Snyder, a board certified plastic surgeon in Austin. There are a number of very effective treatment options to remove and/or reduce this prominence. Below he describes how the majority of those with gynecomastia are one procedure away from the flat chest they’ve long desired.

What Causes Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is defined as an enlargement of the chest due to an overabundance of breast tissue (yes, guys have breast tissue, too). While gynecomastia affects men of all ages, the three peak periods for developing gynecomastia are:

  • Infancy: typically resolves in 2-3 weeks of birth
  • Puberty:  usually resolves in 6 months to 2 years
  • Adult Age: peaks in men between 50-69

The reason for this is that the main underlying cause of gynecomastia is a hormone imbalance. During puberty, this will usually resolve on its own, but not always. Sometimes it does not go away, and only with surgery can a flat chest be achieved.

Gynecomastia Surgery

Gynecomastia surgery is straightforward: extra breast tissue causing an enlarged and prominent chest is removed. And while the breast tissue is usually the culprit, an excess of fat can also add to the problem. An incision is made around the areola through which excess breast tissue will be removed. Should any fat exist, liposuction will be utilized to remove it. While no one likes the idea of scars on his chest, the incisions on the breast tend to heal very well. This is especially true around the nipple as the scar is placed on the edge where your nipple and skin meet. 

In terms of recovery, the chest will feel sore for a few weeks. It has been described as feeling more like the discomfort after a hard workout than actual pain. Additionally, patients can expect some bruising and swelling early on. Gynecomastia patients will need to wear a support garment that looks like a vest for a few weeks to help control the swelling, speed up your recovery and ensure optimal results.

Areola & Nipple Reduction

Some gynecomastia patients may also have large areola development. Due to the nature of the breast tissue removal, nipple reduction is an easy add-on during surgery. However, there is also a whole group of patients who do not have gynecomastia, but who do have prominent nipples. “This can bother them with sports, and shows through clothes as well,” says Dr. Snyder.

With prominent nipples, even soft t-shirts can rub, irritating them so that they are chronically sore. A nipple reduction is a simple, office-based procedure for fixing prominent nipples. There is no downtime associated with the procedure and patients heal rapidly.

Gynecomastia Patients are Thrilled with Results

“Universally, it’s one of our highest patient satisfaction procedures,” says Dr. Snyder. Teenagers whose breast prominence does not resolve on its own have usually been teased mercilessly about their chests at a time when they are just beginning to come into their own. This can have a devastating affect on a young man’s sense of himself. In older patients with gynecomastia, these men have often been bothered by the condition for years. This has limited many of their life choices such as what clothing to wear as well as which activities to participate in.

Treating a man’s gynecomastia gives him a new lease on life.

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