What is male breast reduction surgery?

Male breast reduction surgery (also called Gynecomastia surgery or man boob surgery) removes excess breast fat, glandular tissue and occasionally skin, to alleviate the physical discomfort associated with male breast development. This simple surgical procedure is effective at producing a flat chest.

Gynecomastia can be present in one or both breasts and can occur in slim, fit men or men who are overweight. It is characterised by an excess of:

  • Breast skin
  • Glandular tissue development, and
  • Localized fat.

Who gets male breast reduction surgery?

Male breast reduction surgery is suitable for men with natural breast growth, called gynaecomastia. Gynaecomastia can occur in one or both breasts any time between adolescence and old age. Undesired male breasts can be a distressing condition for many males, especially if it occurs in their teenage years at their fragile point of developing. The development of male breasts can also occur in men in their 40’s and 50’s who have suffered hormonal deficiencies or weight changes. Some men will avoid relationships and physical intimacy because they are embarrassed about their protruding male breasts.

Men who can benefit from male breast reduction surgery are:

  • Shy about removing their shirt in public, exercising or participating in sport because of the way their breasts appear
  • Eager to enhance their aesthetic body proportions by reducing their breast size
  • Suffering psychological consequences because of the size of their breasts

What causes protruding male breasts or man boobs to develop?

It can occur without an identifiable cause, but known causes include:

  • Genetics
  • Hormonal disorders, including increased levels of oestrogen or decreased levels of testosterone
  • Obesity or weight fluctuation
  • Chronic kidney or liver disease
  • Anabolic steroid use
  • HIV infection
  • Overuse of drugs or alcohol.

Key facts about male breast reduction surgery

  • Male breast reduction surgery is increasingly common with men of all ages have this surgery
  • If skin needs to be removed during the surgery there will be visible scars.
  • Male breast enlargement (gynaecomastia) can affect just the nipple, both sides of the chest, or the entire pectoral area.
  • Gynecomastia surgery removes breast tissue and skin, and can involve liposculpture.
  • Male breast reduction surgery is usually a day procedure. Most patients report minimal residual discomfort.
  • Most male breast reduction patients can return to work in 2-3 days. The full results are usually seen in 6-8 weeks.

How is male breast reduction surgery performed?

To remove the excess breast tissue, fat and skin from your chest, your Cosmetic Surgeon has a number of techniques available. These include liposuction, ultrasonic liposuction, removal of breast tissue and skin, where there is a lot of excess, saggy skin and open removal of male breast tissue through keyhole incisions. Most male breast reduction surgery does not remove skin as they are performed through tiny incisions.

Gynaecomastia surgery depends on the size of the breast tissue and the amount of skin that needs to be removed. Before your surgery, a full hormonal (endocrine) screen is undertaken to ensure there are no underlying causes for the breast tissue development. You will also have a baseline ultrasound scan to confirm you have true gynaecomastia as opposed to pseudo-gynaecomastia, which is fat (adipose) tissue. This ultrasound will also establish the size of the glandular tissue and rule out any presence of suspicious breast tissues.

Male breast reduction surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and usually consists of a combination of liposuction followed by glandular excision. Specific techniques include intra-areolar incision, skin resection, pull-through technique and ultrasonic liposuction.

Intra-areolar incision

This is common technique for gynaecomastia surgery involves making an incision extending along the lower half of the areola circumference in the pigmented portion. The length of the incision will depend on each patient’s breast anatomy.

Skin resection

If the breast development is more severe, your surgeon may use the skin resection technique. This involves the surgical removal of a portion of the breast structure, and a relocation of the nipple.

Pull-through technique

This less invasive procedure, involves making a very small incision at the edge of the areola. Using liposuction, the glandular tissue from the overlying areola is pulled through the incision.

Ultrasonic liposuction

If excessive fatty tissue is present in the breasts, ultrasonic liposuction breast reduction may be used. Most male breast reduction patients need a combination of liposuction and excision.

What is recovery like after male breast reduction surgery?

After the procedure, you can expect to have some soreness and discomfort after the procedure. Some men liken the sore feeling to what they have after a hard gym session.

After your breast reduction surgery, you’ll be given medication to limit any pain and nausea. You will also have an intravenous drip in place. Most male breast reduction surgery does not require drainage tubes.

You will need to wear compression garments for at least five days after the surgery 24/7. After this period, you will need to wear compression garments during the day or at night for at least 2 weeks. During the procedure, your chest area will be injected with tumescent fluid via a micro-cannula. This fluid softens, numbs, and evens out the fat, which is then gently suctioned out. After the procedure, you will have some tumescent fluid leaking out of the incisions that have been made during the procedure. This is a normal part of the recovery process. Over time, the tiny incision marks will fade away almost completely.

The results of male breast reduction surgery will not be seen until all the swelling has gone down. In some patients this can take up to 2 months. Some patients experience lumpiness and deep swelling for a few weeks after their surgery.

Depending on the type of work you do, you can usually get back to work within a few days. Your Cosmetic Surgeon will advise how much time you need to take off work. Light exercise (like walking) after the surgery is recommended, however your surgeon will advise when you can resume your gym or weight lifting program.

What are the specific risks and complications of male breast reduction surgery?

While male breast reduction surgery can improve your self-confidence, self-esteem and quality of life, there are risks. Any surgical operation brings complications of anaesthesia. The possible complications of having an anaesthetic will be outline by your anaesthetist.

Gynecomastia surgery risks include:

  • Allergic reactions to surgical materials
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots: In your leg (DVT) or your lung (primary embolus)
  • Breast contour and shape irregularities
  • Breast asymmetry
  • Bruising
  • Cardiac and pulmonary complications
  • Damage to the nerves, blood vessels, muscles and lungs
  • Death of fatty tissue deep in the skin (called fat necrosis)
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Infection
  • Liposuction: if this is used during surgery there can be associated risks
  • Pain: To control pain you will given medication
  • Permanent pigmentation changes
  • Poor wound healing
  • Possibility of revision surgery for additional tightening or repositioning of the breasts
  • Scarring
  • Skin discoloration
  • Swelling
  • Temporary or permanent changes in nipple or breast sensation

To find out if male breast reduction surgery is appropriate for you consult a Breast Surgeon

Men who are considering male breast reduction surgery can feel like their ‘man boobs’ are affecting their self-esteem and self-confidence. While ‘man boobs have always been the source of jokes, regrettably, it is never that funny for men dealing with this condition.

While male breast reduction surgery is usually effective and safe, complications can occur. Knowing about the risks and complications of the surgery is vital. We suggest you make a shortlist and consult with a few Breast Reduction Surgeons. You can find the best Australian Breast Reduction Surgeons here.

Important to know

So you can make an informed decision, your elected surgeon will discuss the possible risks associated with a male breast reduction. Although the majority of patients do not experience these complications, it's important to understand how they can be managed in the event that they occur. 

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 Benjamin Norris

Benjamin Norris

36 Reviews

Plastic Surgeon
New South Wales, Australia

Anonymous September 13th, 2018

Dr Benjamin Norris is an amazing doctor and has a very caring personality. Even the first time i met him he made me feel very comfortable and did not feel make me feel uneasy with my body. i recommend Dr Norris to anyone who is suffering gynecomastia. :)