Gynecomastia is a condition that causes enlargement of male breast tissue. It can often be a great source of embarrassment for men. The number of men throughout Calgary, Edmonton, Canmore and Banff seeking out surgery for gynecomastia has continued to grow over the years. At Radiance Plastic Surgery, we are continuing to see more and more men wanting to enhance the look of their chests.
Throughout puberty, hormonal surges can lead to the development of male breast tissue. In some cases, this breast tissue shrinks after puberty, but in a lot of cases, the breasts can remain enlarged. The prevalence of asymptomatic gynecomastia is 60% to 90% in children, 50% to 60% in adolescents, and up to 70% in men aged 50 to 69 years.
The most common causes of gynecomastia include puberty, excess weight gain, use of anabolic steroids in bodybuilders and marijuana use. A number of other medications also cause male breast enlargement.
How do I know if I have Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia commonly occurs in both breasts, however, patients may have asymmetric or unilateral breasts. Breast self-exams usually demonstrate a palpable, tender, firm, mobile, disc-like mound of tissue that is not as hard as breast cancer and is located centrally under the nipple-areolar region.
When palpable masses are unilateral, hard, fixed, peripheral to the nipple and associated with nipple discharge, skin changes or enlarged lymph nodes, breast cancer should be suspected and thorough evaluation is recommended, including the performance of mammograms and MRI.
Surgery to correct Gynecomastia
When patients come in with a complaint of gynecomastia, they usually complain about lumps in their breasts with or without excess fat in the breasts. Surgery to remove breast tissues usually involves liposuction of the excess fat, surgical removal of the excess glandular breast tissue through an incision in the margin of the nipple-areolar complex and/or skin excision (in large male breasts).
Preparing for surgery will involve:
- Stopping medications that increase the risk of bleeding
- Stopping smoking
- increasing your nutrition levels to support your healing and recovery after surgery.
Most surgeons will typically perform the procedure under general anesthesia, however, it is also well-suited to being performed under oral sedation and local anesthesia. Surgeons may also use drains after surgery to reduce the chance of fluid collections. The use of compression vests and icing is also common to help control pain, reduce swelling and control bruising.
Recovery after Gynecomastia surgery
In patients who might only need liposuction to correct their enlarged breasts, return to exercise and work is typically less than 1 week. For patients who additionally require the surgical removal of the excess breast tissue, it may take between 2 to 4 weeks to heal enough to tolerate regular daily activities. A number of patients are able to go back to work after surgery around 7-10 days post-op. Most patients are also able to resume cardio after 2 weeks and weightlifting at 4 weeks provided there are no lasting complications from surgery.
Gynecomastia surgery complications
In most cases, surgery for gynecomastia is safe and the majority of patients have smooth recoveries. In some cases, complications can occur. Complications can sometimes include bruising, bleeding, fluid collections, contour irregularities, loss of nipple skin, visible scarring, numbness of the nipples, inverted nipples, loose breast skin and asymmetries. Attention to meticulous surgical technique and pre/peri/postoperative management is essential to ensuring positive outcomes.