Gynecomastia surgery improves the male chest contour by removing excess fat, gland tissue, and excess skin from male breasts. You may be a candidate for surgery if you have enlarged, swollen, or overdeveloped breasts that may cause embarrassment or discomfort, prevent you from participating in activities or affect your psychological well-being. In men, the condition of excess breast tissue is called gynecomastia.
Learn more about breast reduction, breast augmentation, tummy tucks, body contouring, and other procedures performed at the Duke Aesthetic Center at one of our informational seminars.
What to Know When Considering Gynecomastia Surgery
Causes of Gynecomastia
While large male breasts can be inherited, the condition can also result from obesity or hormonal changes or as a side effect of certain medications, including steroids. It may affect one or both breasts.
Good Candidates for Gynecomastia Surgery
You may be a candidate for male breast reduction surgery if:
- You are concerned about and/or bothered by your appearance.
- Your condition can’t be corrected through medications or stopping certain medications.
- You are healthy and don’t have any illness or condition that could increase your risk of surgical complications.
Gynecomastia Procedure Cost
Gynecomastia surgery may be covered by your insurance. However, insurance does not cover surgery performed for purely cosmetic reasons. If necessary, our financial counselor will provide you with a cost estimate to help you determine if this is the right approach for you.
You May Have Scars
Surgery to correct gynecomastia may be scarless or may result in some visible scars. Your surgeon will use the natural contours of your breasts to minimize scarring as much as possible.
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Understanding the Risks
Gynecomastia surgery carries the same risks as any other standard surgery. These include the risk of bleeding and infection and risks associated with general anesthesia. Your doctor will discuss these risks with you if surgery is recommended.
Choosing an Experienced Plastic Surgeon
Our highly qualified plastic surgeons are board-certified in plastic surgery. They have years of experience performing gynecomastia surgery and consistently achieve the best possible outcome for their patients.
Initial Consultation and Tests
An initial visit with your plastic surgeon may take place via telehealth or in person. We will discuss your reasons for pursuing male breast reduction surgery and your goals. To determine if you are a candidate for surgery, your surgeon will review your family history, general health status, lifestyle habits such as smoking, previous operations, any medications you may be taking, and conditions that can put you at risk for surgery.
During an additional in-person visit, your breasts will be measured and assessed for size and shape, and photographs may be taken for your medical record. Before treatment is recommended, you will also undergo one or more of the following tests.
- Blood tests may be necessary to evaluate your hormone levels. Pre-surgical testing also requires several blood tests to assess your liver and kidney function and to determine if you have an infection, a blood disorder, or anemia, that may have gone previously undetected.
- A mammogram may be performed to detect any underlying breast abnormalities. Gynecomastia can increase your risk for male breast cancer. Additional imaging, including ultrasound and MRI, may also be requested.
Based on these findings, we will recommend a treatment that may include medication or surgery. For example, if gynecomastia is caused by a hormonal imbalance, medication may be prescribed. Options include testosterone replacement therapy; an estrogen receptor modulator such as tamoxifen, which has been shown to reduce breast volume; or clomiphene, which stimulates hormone production. Alternatively, your surgeon may recommend that you lose weight, quit smoking, or discontinue medication before surgery to ensure you experience the best possible outcome.
If surgery is recommended, we will discuss the expected outcome, potential risks and complications, and your post-operation recovery.
Gynecomastia Surgery and Recovery
The most common technique involves an incision that encircles the dark area around the nipple (areola). Another incision follows the natural curve of the crease beneath the breasts. Excess fat and glandular tissue are removed. On many occasions, liposuction alone or in combination is used to remove fat and gland tissues. If the weight of excess breast tissue causes the breasts to sag and stretches the areola, your plastic surgeon will reposition and resize the areola at the same time.
The entire procedure typically takes about one to two hours and is performed under general anesthesia. It may be performed in an outpatient ambulatory surgery center or may require an overnight stay. Sometimes a second procedure is required to further tighten skin and achieve optimal cosmetic results.
Your chest will be wrapped in bandages or a compression chest vest applied after the procedure. Recovery takes about one week. It may take several months for all swelling to subside and scars to fade.
Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2020–2021.