After suffering from gynecomastia and enlarged male breasts for years, you understandably are eager to find relief from the harsh emotional and psychological effects of this condition. Gynecomastia surgery can be life-changing, but you need to understand what the recovery process entails before scheduling a date for male breast reduction surgery.
There are two primary types of gynecomastia surgery, and these are liposuction and tissue excision. Liposuction is generally suitable for less severe cases and may be less invasive. However, your surgeon will ultimately decide how many incisions are needed. If the male breast is sagging, tissue excision is often recommended. Through excision surgery, more tissue and skin can be removed than what is possible with liposuction. Your plastic surgeon will decide which approach is best-suited for you.
Immediately After Gynecomastia Surgery
Both types of gynecomastia surgery are usually outpatient procedures. They require the use of local or general anesthesia. Your healthcare team will monitor you for a period of time after the surgery as you come out of sedation, and you generally need to make arrangements for a friend or family member to drive you home. Your doctor will provide you with self-care recovery instructions, and this often includes the use of a compression shirt or vest for a few weeks after the procedure.
Recovering at Home
The recovery time for both of these surgical procedures is usually a few weeks. You may feel well enough to return to your regular work routine after a few days with the liposuction procedure or after a week with the tissue excision procedure. However, you will not be able to participate in vigorous activities for at least two weeks while the wounds heal. After two weeks, you can gradually ramp up your activities with moderate cardio and lower body workouts. Until your doctor clears you, avoid exercising your chest or upper body for at least four weeks after the surgery. It is normal to feel tightness in your chest for a while after the surgery when you are exercising.
Chest swelling is expected with both procedures, and it may be more pronounced with the tissue excision procedure. Wearing a compression shirt or vest regularly throughout the recovery period will minimize swelling and related pain. The shirt will also support the chest tissue as it heals.
After gynecomastia surgery, moderate and localized pain is expected. This pain usually decreases substantially within a few days after the procedure. Over-the-counter pain medications can be used to treat the pain. Some doctors prescribe pain medication.
During the healing process, avoid consuming an excessive amount of liquids. When your liquid intake increases dramatically, the likelihood of a seroma developing in your chest increases. This is a mass comprised of fluid that develops near the surgical site. Smaller seroma masses will dissipated gradually on their own, but larger seroma masses may require medical intervention.
Both surgical procedures are performed using small incisions. These incisions must remain clean while the wounds heal. Your doctor will provide cleaning and care instructions before you leave the medical center, and these should be followed carefully. Post-surgical infections are rare, but they are more likely to develop if you do not follow the cleaning and care instructions provided by your surgeon.
Your doctor may also recommend that you massage the incision sites for approximately 20 minutes several times each day. Typically, massage is recommended after the incisions have healed or approximately three weeks after the surgery. By massaging the area daily for up to five weeks, scar tissue will soften and will lay flatter to produce more visually pleasing results.
The recovery process for male breast reduction surgery is thankfully short-lived. In the weeks and months to follow, some men experience a loss of sensation around the incision sites. However, feeling in these areas usually gradually returns.
After enduring a surgical procedure, you reasonably expect to enjoy long-lasting results. The excess tissue, skin and fat have been removed, but it is possible to have a recurrence. You should focus on maintaining a healthy weight to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence. Some medical conditions and medications could contribute to the growth of male breast tissue. Discuss the cause of your male breasts with your doctor before the surgery so that you can take preventive steps to avoid a recurrence.
Whether you have decided to move forward with male breast reduction surgery or you are still on the fence, you need to know as much as you can about the recovery process and about the long-term impact that this can have on your life. While you will need to take extra self-care steps for several weeks after the surgery, the ability to live without the agony of enlarged male breasts may make this well worth the effort.