Breast surgery is one of the most common types of cosmetic surgery in the United States—hundreds of thousands of patients get their breasts lifted, augmented, reduced, or altered in some way each year. However, not all of those patients are women. Many men are embarrassed by the seemingly feminine, breast-like appearance of their pectoral area (colloquially known as “man boobs”). Fortunately for these men, their problem is not only common—it’s treatable.
The condition, gynecomastia, is a swelling of the breast tissue in male patients caused by a hormonal imbalance. It’s not uncommon for postpubescent males to experience some breast bud development as a result of puberty’s major hormonal changes. Most of the time, the condition goes away on its own. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t—in which case, surgery may be a solution to consider. This isn’t to say young men are the only ones with concerns—older men oftentimes must deal with sagging skin, and sometimes men interested in bodybuilding and other such activities have some bothersome breast bud development. Another common reason to seek out breast reduction is weight loss—a patient has dramatically decreased in size, but he has excess sagging skin and residual fat in the breast area. In short, patients can come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and ages—and their concerns are oftentimes as varied and unique as they are.
The procedure, of course, varies depending on the specific problem being treated. The surgeon can determine what the appropriate solution would be in each case—if the problem is merely a case of excess fat, then liposuction may be the best option. However, if there is a significant glandular component to the patient’s condition, then that would need to be openly excised, as glands are too firm to be suctioned out. Commonly, the surgeon will open up the patient’s nipple, remove a chunk of hard glands, and, through the opening, liposuction any excess fat in the area. The incisions are fairly small, except in cases where there is an exorbitant amount of skin. In those instances, it may be simpler for the surgeon to remove all of the excess skin, fat, and gland tissue, salvaging the nipple as a skin graft, which the surgeon can then re-graft onto the desired location.
Naturally, the recovery process varies depending on the procedure. Prospective patients should be aware of potential complications, including those common in any surgical procedure, such as wound infections, blood clots, and anesthetic complications—although these are all fairly rare, occurring in less than 1% of procedures. Nipple mal-position is slightly more common, occurring in around 4-5% of procedures. Fortunately, this can be fixed surgically. Other complications patients should be on the lookout for are puffy nipples (a result of removing too little material from under the areola) or dished-out nipples (a result of removing too much). Fortunately, the latter improves independently with time, and puffy nipples are easy for a surgeon to revise.
Any male patient suffering from gynecomastia should be pleased to know that there are many options available to solve his problem. Though patients generally consider their situation to be embarrassing and hard to cope with, they should know that their problems are not only common but easily treatable. An ideal pectoral area is within reach of anyone willing to take the necessary steps—no more “man boobs,” and no more embarrassment.
Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team based on an exclusive interview provided by Dr. Barry Handler in San Diego, CA.