What is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia, or the development of enlarged breasts in males, can be a major source of self-consciousness in men and teenagers alike. This condition is often caused by a hormonal imbalance, and can affect one or both breasts. Gynecomastia is not a serious condition, and can easily be corrected with gynecomastia surgery, or male breast reduction.
Am I a good candidate for Male Breast Reduction surgery?
Candidates for gynecomastia surgery include males whose excess breast tissue cannot be corrected through alternative treatments, and whose breasts are done growing. It is important that patients are healthy, non-smokers who have realistic expectations of the surgery. Men who consume great amounts of alcohol or marijuana may not be ideal candidates for this procedure, due to these drugs being thought to contribute to gynecomastia.
Gynecomastia – Patient 143
A man in his early 30’s who developed gynecomastia at puberty. He does not have a history of significant marijuana use or anabolic steroid use, both of which can cause gynecomastia. Studies report that as many as 30% of young boys will develop some growth of the breasts at puberty. In most cases this goes away on its own by 18 months. If it has not resolved by that time it typically is not going to go away on its own.
He is bothered by the appearance of his chest in fitted shirts and with his shirt off.
He is shown before and again, 6 weeks after Power-Assisted liposuction using a modified S.A.F.E. technique combined with direct excision of breast tissue though an incision around the lower part of the areola. In the S.A.F.E. technique ( the letters stand for S uction A spiration and F at E qualization) the procedure is typically performed under general anesthesia. Wetting solution, sometimes called “tumescent” solution is injected under the skin. This is a dilute solution containing some local anesthetic and epinephrine. Then I perform external ultrasound to soften the fat. Then a cannula with fins called a “Becker” cannula is used without suction to mechanically disrupt the fat. I prefer the Microaire power system that vibrates this cannula rapidly back and forth. This loosens up the fat cells that remain viable however. Then the “aspiration” or liposuction is performed using an incision under the arm as well as the incision around the areola. After excising any remaining breast tissue under the areola, the fat is “equalized” or smoothed by using the finned cannula again to smooth the remaining fat layer around. In this manner the most aggressive liposuction can be performed without as much of a risk of leaving dimples or irregularities. A compression vest is worn for 6 weeks.
Scars are at the pinkest and reddest at 6 weeks and then begin to fade and improve over the next 2 years. The peri-areolar scars are nearly imperceptible even at this time. The lateral access scars are typically the most visible early on, and I try and place these behind the border of the pectoralis muscle so they are not as noticeable. He will now wear topical silicone on the small access scars for the next 3-6 months. He is ready to go to the beach now at 6 weeks. Sunblock is recommended for the first 12 months because any scar that is exposed to the sun while it is still pink can turn brown. He is thrilled to finally have a normal chest.
Gynecomastia – Patient 142
A man in his early 20’s who has bilateral gynecomastia which started at the age of 16. He is right handed and muscular, with his right pectoralis muscle being larger and more prominent than his left. Arms up view demonstrates the prominent breast.
He was able to be treated with Power assisted liposuction using the S.A.F.E. technique ( Suction Aspiration Fat Equalization) with the removal of 550 of fat from each side of his chest. There was no palpable breast tissue present after the liposuction was completed so an excision of breast tissue through a peri-areolar incision was not needed. It is difficult to tell before surgery whether or not an excision of breast tissue will be needed so we typically plan for this and make the final decision in the operating room after the liposuction is complete. Liposuction will not remove breast tissue, so this is the advantage of being in the operating room rather than under local anesthesia in an office setting.
He is shown before and again, nearly 5 months after surgery. His pectoralis muscles are now able to be seen under the skin and he no longer has a feminine appearing chest. The S.A.F.E. technique uses a liposuction cannula with fins to mechanically break up the fat. This is used before suction is applied. Then the liposuction is performed with a traditional cannula. The fat cells are looser and easier to remove more precisely but any remaining fat is still viable. After liposuction is completed, then the fat is “equalized” again with the finned cannula to break up the remaining fat and move it around, giving a smoother final layer.
Gynecomastia – Patient 141
An early ( 6 week) follow-up on a man in his early 30’s who first noted gynecomastia in his mid 20’s. He has had negative endocrinology testing and a negative testicular exam (testicular tumors can be one cause of gynecomastia). He is bothered by the appearance of his chest with his shirt off but also in fitted shirts and golf shirts. He wears extra shirts to camouflage his chest. He did take over the counter supplements for weight lifting, and that may have been the cause. He is 5’ 11” and 166 lbs and is shown just before and again, 6 weeks after Power Assisted liposuction of his chest using the S.A.F.E. technique ( S uction A spiration F at E qualization). After liposuction fluid is placed in the chest, then external ultrasound is applied to soften the fat. Then a cannula with fins is used first without suction to mechanically disrupt the fat. Then liposuction with a normal liposuction cannula is used. Any residual breast tissue that remains is excised through an incision around the areola- in his case about ½ ounce of tissue was excised from each side. Then the finned cannula is used again to smooth and equalize the remaining fat. Scars are at their thickest and reddest at the 6-week mark and he has been wearing paper tape to protect his incisions. We can see a little redness of the skin from the tape and from the scars, which will now fade over the next 6-12 months. The hands on head view shows the excellent contour that has been obtained and brings the gynecomastia into view before and shows the complete resolution after his surgery. He told me that he is so happy and relieved to have a normal appearing chest again. A tattoo on his arm has been blurred for his privacy. The photos are otherwise not retouched.
Update: Our patient is now seen 8 months after surgery. His contour remains excellent and his scars have continued to fade. He tells me that his only wish is that he had done this sooner. He is thrilled to be able to take his shirt off at the beach and look normal. And he is no longer bothered by the appearance of his chest in fitted shirts.
Gynecomastia – Patient 140
A 33 yo engineer who is bothered by a female appearing chest since his 20’s. Despite some recent weight loss, he is still bothered by the appearance of his chest in fitted shirts and with his shirt off. He wears extra shirts to camouflage the appearance, He is shown just before and again, 4 months after External ultrasound assisted, Power assisted liposuction using the S.A.F.E. technique (Suction Aspiration and Fat equalization) combined with a direct excision of breast tissue through a peri-areolar incision. He is thrilled with his early result, and is no longer bothered by the appearance of his chest with his shirts on or off.
Gynecomastia – Patient 139
A man in his early 30’s who is bothered by female breast development. He did not finish growing in height until his sophomore year of college. He noted female breast development starting after college. His endocrinology workup was normal and he does not have a testicular mass on the examination by his physician. He is bothered by the appearance of his chest with his shirt off but also in some shirts. He did not have a history of significant marijuana use or anabolic steroids. The cause of his gynecomastia is “idiopathic” which is a fancy word for unknown.
He is shown before and again, 5 months after power assisted liposuction with external ultrasound assist using the SAFE technique ( Suction Aspiration Fat Equalization) combined with direct excision of breast tissue through a peri-areolar incision.
At 10 months, our patients scars have continued to fade. Hands on head view shows perfect contour of the chest from the S.A.F.E. liposuction combined with the direct excision. It may be tempting to consider only a direct excision without the S.A.F.E. technique- but in my experience it is difficult to perform a direct excision without the liposuction and obtain a smooth surface as we have done here. Even when there is not a large amount of fat, the undermining with the special cannula initially helps to separate the mass of breast tissue so that is technically easier to smoothly excise it without leaving irregularities of the overlying skin. Then after the excision the fat equalization portion of the S.A.F.E. technique further smooths the overlying layer of fat. In this way we have managed to avoid contour irregularities of the subcutaneous layer.
How is gynecomastia surgery performed?
Male breast reduction surgery in Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts is performed under general anesthesia while using a selection of techniques. The first technique is the liposuction technique, where a cannula or thin hollow tube is inserted through small incisions. Dr. Hall moves the cannula back and forth, removing excess fatty tissue through vacuum suction. The second technique is the excision technique, in which an incision is made to remove excess tissue and skin, resulting in a breast reduction. Both the liposuction technique and excision technique can be combined to perform this procedure as well. The technique that is most appropriate in your specific case will be defined during your consultation with Dr. Hall.
What should I expect during recovery?
After surgery, dressings will be applied to any incisions, and a support garment may be worn to aid in support and reduce swelling. A small tube may also be placed to drain any excess fluid or blood that collects. Dr. Hall will give you specific instructions for breast surgery recovery, and it is imperative that you follow them for a rapid and safe recovery.
“Dr. Hall and all of his staff are very welcoming and supportive. In addition, I am extremely pleased with the results of my procedure. I have already referred a friend to Dr. Hall!”
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