We often expect for a man’s chest to have curves. Soft curves. Curves that indicate the presence of strong pec muscles beneath the skin. When a man’s breasts look fuller and softer, like a woman’s, life can become incredibly stressful. For the average guy, there is no room for “man boobs” in his existence; and yet, millions of men struggle to understand why their chest is enlarged despite a generally healthy lifestyle.
Gynecomastia is a problem that we are still discovering. Research has determined that weight is only one potential cause of male breast enlargement. We also know that weight can affect the shape of the breasts in more ways than one. For example, a man can develop fatty tissue in the chest simply due to obesity. Additionally, though, an increase in abdominal fat, in particular, affects a man’s hormone levels, inviting increased estrogen production. Where there is more estrogen, there is more breast tissue.
Even the discovery of hormone involvement in the development of gynecomastia has done little to correct the problem that has already begun. For the man with excess breast tissue, the true matter at hand is resolution. Resolution comes through surgery. Surgery requires recovery, and this is where many of our patients’ questions reside. Here, we discuss the general details of what to expect from gynecomastia surgery.
A Timeline of Recovery
Every gynecomastia surgery revolves around the nature of breast enlargement. In many cases, it is advantageous to go beyond liposuction for fatty tissue removal. Excising the breast gland provides the peace of mind that hormone-related enlargement should not recur. There are levels of excision that may be considered depending on the extensiveness of breast growth and tissue laxity. However, a general timeline of recovery looks like:
- An initial post-operative follow-up the day after surgery to remove the surgical dressing. This change in dressing may not occur for about 10 days for patients with a more extensive incision.
- Driving and showering may resume 24 to 48 hours after more conservative surgeries. This depends on the use of prescription pain medication and general alertness after anesthesia. More extensive gynecomastia surgery will require sponge-bathing and limited activity for approximately 10 days.
- A second follow-up visit at approximately one week to remove drains and check the healing of incisions.
- A compression garment is worn as early as the day after surgery for the duration of several weeks.
- Physical activity is limited for one to two weeks after minor procedures. Lower body exercise may resume in 7 to 10 days. By 5 weeks post-op, most light physical activities can be resumed.
Side Effects after Gynecomastia Surgery
The repositioning and removal of breast tissue incur common side effects that include bruising and swelling. Drains are placed to ensure that fluid is allowed to exit the surgical site adequately to limit the amount of swelling that occurs. Because a compression garment covers the majority of the operative area, bruising and swelling may be all but hidden except when showering. These side effects decrease over the first few weeks after surgery.
Side effects including grogginess and general fatigue may result from the surgery itself, the anesthesia during surgery, and the use of prescription pain medication during recovery. Patients are encouraged to avoid the idea that they should “suck it up” and get back to work or other activities. Rest is the most effective strategy for getting back to the normal routine of life.
Learn more about Gynecomastia Surgery