Male breast formation, known as gynaecomastia, is not uncommon in young men. It can be associated with puberty, weight gain or as a side effect of certain drugs. In fact, infant males are often born with larger breasts due to their mother’s higher estrogen levels, but the condition usually subsides within two weeks after birth.
If surgery is the best treatment option after finding the cause of gynecomastia, Dr Cooper performs the male breast reduction procedure to remove the breast tissue, along with excess fat pockets, if required. During a consultation at Rodin Clinic in Perth, he will be able to determine your suitability for gynecomastia surgery and create a procedure plan to tailor the surgery to your needs.
Gynecomastia: Underlying causes
In gynecomastia, the amount of breast gland tissue increases, causing the appearance of larger breasts and sometimes larger areolas. The increase of breast gland tissue can result in swelling, pain and discomfort, which can sometimes interfere with quality of life. Gynecomastia surgery will remove the breast tissue.
The condition occurs when the hormones estrogen and testosterone become imbalanced, with testosterone production decreasing. Apart from natural changes in hormone production, this hormonal imbalance can be triggered by a variety of underlying conditions, such as genetic conditions, drug use, certain medications or significant weight gain. Underlying causes of male breast formation can trigger the condition at any age.
Certain health conditions can change the balance of testosterone and estrogen. Some conditions can include malnutrition, hyperthyroidism, hypogonadism, tumours, kidney failure, and liver failure.
Medications that can treat physical or mental health conditions can also influence hormone production. Similarly, excessive use of alcohol and drugs can trigger gynecomastia. Significant weight gain can also increase estrogen levels, however, it is important to differentiate this from excessive fat tissue in the breasts caused by weight gain. Once triggered, gynecomastia is hard to treat with diet and exercise alone.
To find the underlying cause of male breast formation, your GP or specialist can refer you to undergo hormone level, liver function or kidney function tests, or an ultrasound or mammogram. Although gyno surgery is an option, candidates can benefit from uncovering the cause of the condition, as the cause may need direct treatment.
How to tell if you have gynecomastia
Signs of male breast formation can include tenderness and swelling around the nipples, and the appearance of enlarged breast tissue that does not seem to subside with diet and exercise. The condition can appear in just one breast or both breasts.
Sometimes, the condition can be confused with excess fat deposits in overweight men. The difference between gynecomastia and fat deposits is that gynecomastia cannot be treated with exercise, even chest-focused exercises, such as push ups. Generally, when the condition does not subside on its own, gyno surgery can be an optimal solution.
Before undergoing the procedure, it can be helpful to determine the underlying cause of your condition, so that the cause can be addressed with the necessary treatment. You may be asked to undergo some tests by your GP to help find the cause.
The male breast reduction procedure
Surgical treatment for gynecomastia involves a subcutaneous mastectomy, via a small areolar incision, combined with liposuction of the chest wall if necessary. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia as a day case.
A subcutaneous mastectomy involves the surgical removal of the breast tissue. If liposuction is performed in combination, this will involve using a small cannula through small incisions, which will be moved back and forth to suction out the targeted fat.
Dr Cooper takes a patient-centered approach, meaning that the steps of gyno surgery are personalised to suit the needs of each individual patient. During a consultation, each patient will discuss their personal concerns, aesthetic preferences and health history. Candidates will also be able to disclose any concerns about post-operative pain or scarring, allowing your gyno surgeon to create a procedure and recovery care plan that especially considers these concerns.
With the removal of breast gland tissue, the results of the procedure will be permanent. However, it is important to remember that excessive weight gain may create the appearance of enlarged male breasts in future. After the procedure, we recommend adopting healthy diet and exercise habits to prevent the recurrence of the issue.
Recovering from the procedure
It is normal to experience some swelling and discomfort after gynecomastia surgery. To manage pain, you may be prescribed medication. If you do need medication, you will be given instructions on when and how often to take it.
After the male breast reduction procedure, a drain is often left in temporarily. A chest compression garment is typically required for about one week of 24 hour wear, and a second week of 18 hour wear per day. The compression garment helps to reduce swelling faster and prevent complications.
Resumption of usual daily activities is generally possible within a week, but this can depend on the rate at which each patient is recovering. Your gyno surgeon will advise you on when you will be able to resume your normal daily routine and exercise routine. We recommend taking sufficient time away from work, usually about two weeks, to have enough time to recuperate.
Throughout recovery, it can help to try to sleep on your back, avoiding putting pressure on the operated site. Wearing loose clothing can also help to prevent discomfort. While caring for wounds according to your provided instructions, avoid itching the wounds as this can cause irritation. The key is to keep the operated site clean, preventing complications like infection and even scarring down the track.
You may be asked to attend post-operative check-ups, to ensure that you are recovering well from the procedure and to monitor the progress of the results.
Gynecomastia surgery costs
The costs of a male breast reduction will depend on anesthesia fees, the complexity of the surgery and medication costs that may be required during recovery. The specific details of each of these factors can vary per patient. Gyno surgeon Dr Cooper can discuss these factors in further detail during your consultation, determining what you will need before, during and after the procedure.
Gynecomastia surgery Medicare
Medicare cover for cosmetic surgery is only available when the procedure is deemed as medically necessary. If gynecomastia surgery is selected for purely aesthetic reasons, Medicare cover will not be applicable. However, if the main reason for undergoing the procedure is to address significant pain or discomfort caused by gynecomastia, that may interfere with daily life, Medicare cover may be possible. To be eligible for Medicare cover, you will require a referral from your GP or a specialist, which will typically include proof that the procedure is medically required.
Risks and complications
Invasive surgical procedures can always be associated with some potential risks. After a consultation at our Perth clinic, gyno surgeon Dr Cooper will assess each candidate’s suitability for surgery, as performing the procedure on suitable candidates will help to minimise risks.
Potential complications of gyno surgery, or ‘man boobs surgery,’ can include excessive bleeding, infection, delayed healing, fluid accumulation (seroma) and fat necrosis. After recovery, the results may appear asymmetrical, which can require revision surgery to address. Patients may also notice a change in nipple sensation, which may be temporary or permanent.
Like with any surgical procedure, noticeable scarring can occur. Your gyno surgeon will put measures in place to minimise the appearance of scarring, such as by placing incisions in discreet areas and prescribing topical scar cream to apply during recovery.
The best way to prevent complications and minimise risks is to closely follow your recovery instructions. Throughout recovery, you should report any potential signs of complications to your surgeon as soon as possible. Signs of complications can include bleeding from incision sites, a fever or nausea.
You can prevent visible scarring by following your recovery instructions, as these instructions will help to support adequate healing. Healing sufficiently will prevent complications like infections that can deepen the appearance of scars. You can also apply a topical scarring cream during recovery to help fade the scars. If scarring is a concern, please remember to discuss this with your surgeon during your consultation.
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