Doctors of USF Health

Plastic Surgery

Gynecomastia

What is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is a condition of over-developed or enlarged breasts in men. It is common in men of any age and can be the result of hormonal changes, heredity conditions, disease or the use of certain drugs. Gynecomastia can cause emotional discomfort and impair your self-confidence. Some men may even avoid certain physical activities and intimacy simply to hide their condition.

Gynecomastia is characterized by:

  • Excess localized fat
  • Excess glandular tissue development
  • A combination of both excess fat and glandular tissue
  • Gynecomastia may be present unilaterally (one breast) or bilaterally (both breasts)

Who is a good candidate for surgical correction of Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia surgery is a highly individualized procedure and you should do it for yourself, not to fulfill someone else’s desires or to try to fit any sort of ideal image.

This procedure is a good option for you if:

  • You are physically healthy and of relatively normal weight
  • You have realistic expectations
  • Your breast development has stabilized
  • You are bothered by the feeling that your breasts are too large

Adolescents may benefit from surgery, although secondary procedures may be needed in the future should breast development continue.

Surgical correction of gynecomastia is best performed on:

  • Men whose condition cannot be corrected through alternative medical treatments
  • Healthy individuals who do not have a life-threatening illness or medical conditions that can impair healing
  • Non-smokers and non-drug users
  • Men with a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for improving the physical symptoms of gynecomastia

NOTE: You may not be a candidate for surgery if you smoke, have recently quit smoking, or if you are exposed to second-hand smoke. Primary and secondary smoking decreases blood flow to the body's tissues. This can result in prolonged wound healing, skin loss, infection, increased scarring, and a number of other complications depending on the kind of procedure performed. In regards to gynecomastia surgery, there can be delayed wound healing resulting in unsightly scarring. In all cases of patients exposed to smoke or directly smoking, wounds do not heal in the normal length of time. Wound healing can be prolonged, as long as 3-4 months.

What happens during gynecomastia correction surgery?

Plastic surgery to correct gynecomastia is technically called reduction mammaplasty, and reduces breast size, flattening and enhancing the chest contours.

In severe cases of gynecomastia, the weight of excess breast tissue may cause the breasts to sag and stretch the areola (the dark skin surrounding the nipple). In these cases the position and size of the areola can be surgically improved and excess skin may be reduced.

Liposuction
In cases where gynecomastia is primarily the result of excess fatty tissue, liposuction techniques alone may be used. This requires insertion of a cannula, a thin hollow tube, through several small incisions. The cannula is moved back and forth in a controlled motion to loosen the excess fat, which is then removed from the body by vacuum suction. There are various liposuction techniques that may be used; the technique most appropriate in your case will be defined prior to your procedure. Sometimes gynecomastia is treated with both liposuction and excision.

Excision
Excision techniques are recommended where glandular breast tissue or excess skin must be removed to correct gynecomastia. Excision also is necessary if the areola will be reduced, or the nipple repositioned to a more natural male contour. Incision patterns vary depending on the specific conditions and surgical preference. Sometimes gynecomastia is treated with both liposuction and excision.

Will there be scars?

Any surgical treatment to correct gynecomastia will require incisions. While most incision lines are concealed within natural contours, some may be visible and are a necessary result of breast reduction surgery.