The most popular surgery for men is liposuction. The runner up? Male breast reduction, or gynecomastia surgery. The Aesthetic Society reported a 66 percent increase in the procedure last year compared to 2020. It makes sense that large breasts are of a concern for men as the National Institutes of Health state that somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of adolescent males suffer from gynecomastia. Here, a look at who is a good candidate for the surgery and what goes into it.
Gynecomastia is generally due to higher-than-normal levels of estrogen in the body related to puberty. While for many men the chest begins to flatten out as they enter adulthood, for some the problem persists. “The cause of male breast enlargement is multifaceted,” says Arcadia, CA, plastic surgeon Art Yu, MD. “Almost all boys at puberty could be affected. Luckily, for most of them, it only lasts a year or two. After reaching adulthood, obesity could be an obvious cause, because the fat could turn some testosterone into estrogen. The combination of breast tissue growth and local fat accumulation could create what is sometimes called ‘manboobs.'”
What Causes Male Breast Enlargement
According to Concord, CA plastic surgeon Eric Mariotti, MD a hormonal imbalance can be caused by medications, certain medical conditions, marijuana, steroid use or excessive alcohol use. “In my practice the number-one reason for gynecomastia is simply genetics, but these other causes have to be ruled out,” he explains.
To reduce the size of the breasts and flatten the chest, Encino, CA plastic surgeon George Sanders, MD says the combination of liposuction and excision of the excess breast tissue and skin is done. “Typically, the scars are minimally detectable. In most cases, there are two one-eighth-inch scars on each breast that usually fade nicely,” he explains. “If skin removal is required, the scars are longer.”
The scars can vary depending on the surgery and for more extensive cases an anchor scar will be used, explains Dr. Mariotti: “From imperceptible liposuction scars to a small scar around the areola and a larger scar in the fold of the chest depending on what type of surgery is indicated.”
Who It’s Best For
“Gynecomastia surgery candidates are those men who are post puberty, healthy, who have excess male breast tissue who are looking to have a flatter, and more masculine appearance to their chest,” says Dr. Mariotti. “My best advice is to find a qualified plastic surgeon with experience to tell you what type of surgery is best to achieve your desired result. There is so much variability as to what type of surgery could, or should, be done, that trying to navigate your options without an expert is nearly impossible.”
To start the gynecomastia journey, the experts recommend finding a board-certified plastic surgeon with experience performing your procedure. “Choose a surgeon who has done many gynecomastia corrections with minimal scars,” adds Dr. Yu. “More importantly, the surgeon should be facile with high-definition liposuction techniques.”
How quickly one heals depends on how extensive the surgery is. “Typically, it takes two weeks before exercise is permitted, although driving and light activities are possible within a few days,” shares Dr. Sanders.
For men with larger breasts that feel held them back from enjoying many activities, this surgery can be life-changing. “Anyone who feels embarrassed about the condition shouldn’t hesitate to have a consultation with a qualified surgeon,” says Dr. Yu. “It’s an extremely common condition that can be corrected.”