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A Word About Breast Reduction In Men

Nov 8, 2007
Gynecomastia is a medical term that comes from the Greek words for "women-like breasts." Though this oddly named condition is rarely talked about, it's actually quite common. Gynecomastia affects an estimated 40 to 60 percent of men. It may affect only one breast or both. Though certain drugs and medical problems have been linked with male breast overdevelopment, there is no known cause in the vast majority of cases.

For men who feel self-conscious about their appearance, breast-reduction surgery can help. The procedure removes fat and or glandular tissue from the breasts, and in extreme cases removes excess skin, resulting in a chest that is flatter, firmer, and better contoured.

If you're considering surgery to correct gynecomastia, this information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure--when it can help, how it's performed, and what results you can expect. It can't answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Please be sure to ask your doctor if there is anything about the procedure you don't understand.

The best candidates for gynecomastia correction
Surgery to correct gynecomastia can be performed on healthy, emotionally stable men of any age. The best candidates for surgery have firm, elastic skin that will reshape to the body's new contours.

Surgery may be discouraged for obese men, or for overweight men who have not first attempted to correct the problem with exercise or weight loss. Also, individuals who drink alcohol beverages in excess or smoke marijuana are usually not considered good candidates for surgery. These drugs, along with anabolic steroids, may cause gynecomastia. Therefore, patients are first directed to stop the use of these drugs to see if the breast fullness will diminish before surgery is considered an option.

All surgery carries some uncertainty and risk
When male breast-reduction surgery is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. Nevertheless, as with any surgery, there are risks. These include infection, skin injury, excessive bleeding, adverse reaction to anesthesia, and excessive fluid loss or accumulation. The procedure may also result in noticeable scars, permanent pigment changes in the breast area, or slightly mismatched breasts or nipples. If asymmetry is significant, a second procedure may be performed to remove additional tissue.

The temporary effects of breast reduction include loss of breast sensation or numbness, which may last up to a year.

The initial consultation with your surgeon is very important. Your surgeon will need a complete medical history, so check your own records ahead of time and be ready to provide this information. First, your surgeon will examine your breasts and check for causes of the gynecomastia, such as impaired liver function, use of estrogen-containing medications, or anabolic steroids. If a medical problem is the suspected cause, you'll be referred to an appropriate specialist.

Your plastic surgeon may, in extreme cases, also recommend a mammogram, or breast x-ray. This will not only rule out the very small possibility of breast cancer, but will reveal the breast's composition. Once your surgeon knows how much fat and glandular tissue is contained within the breasts, he or she can choose a surgical approach to best suit your needs.

Don't hesitate to ask your surgeon any questions you may have during the initial consultation- including your concerns about the recommended treatment or the costs involved. Treatment of gynecomastia may be covered by medical insurance--but policies vary greatly. Check your policy or call your carrier to be sure. If you are covered, make certain you get written pre-authorization for the treatment recommended by your surgeon.

Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating, drinking, and taking certain vitamins and medications.

Smokers should plan to stop smoking for a minimum of one or two weeks before surgery and during recovery. Smoking decreases circulation and interferes with proper healing. Therefore, it is essential to follow all your surgeon's instructions.

Surgery for gynecomastia is most often performed as an outpatient procedure, but in extreme cases, or those where other medical conditions present cause for concern, an overnight hospital stay may be recommended. The surgery itself usually takes about an hour and a half to complete. However, more extensive procedures may take longer.

Correction of enlarged male breasts may be performed under general, or in some cases, under local anesthesia plus sedation. You'll be awake, but very relaxed and insensitive to pain. More extensive correction may be performed under general anesthesia, which allows the patient to sleep through the entire operation. Your surgeon will discuss which option is recommended for you, and why this is the option of choice.

If excess glandular tissue is the primary cause of the breast enlargement, it will be excised, or cut out, with a scalpel. The excision may be performed alone or in conjunction with liposuction. In a typical procedure, an incision is made in an inconspicuous location--either on the edge of the areola or in the under arm area. Working through the incision, the surgeon cuts away the excess glandular tissue, fat and skin from around the areola and from the sides and bottom of the breast. Major reductions that involve the removal of a significant amount of tissue and skin may require larger incisions that result in more conspicuous scars. If liposuction is used to remove excess fat, the cannula is usually inserted through the existing incisions.
About the Author
Dave Stringham is the President of LookingYourBest.com an online resource for plastic surgery in Los Angeles. Learn more about breast augmentation and cosmetic surgery procedures.
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