Gynecomastia in New York

Frequently Asked Questions

My 14-year-old son has some breast development. Can he have this surgically treated?

Many young men develop some breast growth during puberty and the majority of this growth resolves on its own. On rare occasion gynecomastia may be the result of a hormone imbalance, and evaluation by a pediatrician is sometimes recommended. If breast tissue still remains after puberty then I will treat the gynecomastia surgically. Sometimes it is treated with liposuction alone. Other times, a small incision at the areola border may be required to directly remove the tissue.

I am an adult male with large breasts. Will I need a lot of incisions to correct this problem?

The surgery is individualized for each patient. Some patients do very well with liposuction alone. Some patients require an additional excision of tissue underneath the nipple, which is more fibrous tissue and does not get removed successfully with liposuction. This can be accomplished with a small incision along the border of the areola and chest skin, and usually heals very well. Still, there are other patients who have significant skin redundancy and need a reduction with some skin removal.

What is gynecomastia, and is there a treatment?

Gynecomastia is a condition in which the male chest grows larger than normal. This condition is usually benign.  It can be due to an increase in the fatty or glandular tissue content of the breast.  Occasionally, male hormone levels are not normal and they develop glandular tissue. In these cases, the patient needs to be evaluated by an endocrinologist and possibly put on medications to regulate the hormone levels.   Various techniques can treat gynecomastia surgically that are not hormone related.  These specific techniques used are predicated upon numerous factors including: 1) the quality of the tissue being treated – if the tissue feels more fatty than glandular, 2) the quality of the skin – if the skin is loose or the chest skin is sagging, 3) the location of the nipple – if the nipple needs to be repositioned, and several other factors.

Can I have liposuction only to treat my gynecomastia?

In many situations, liposuction is a great procedure to offer patients that have gynecomastia. The best candidates for liposuction are those that have primarily a fatty component to the chest, a good nipple position, and reasonably good skin quality. If a patient has excess, loose skin, or sagging in the chest, they are probably better off with an alternative technique that requires a skin excision or nipple repositioning procedure. Patients with a more glandular component and no loose skin might be better off with a direct excision of glandular tissue through a periareolar approach in conjunction with liposuction.  In “borderline” patients where they are some glandular tissue and moderate loose skin, I often will do liposuction first to see how the tissues respond. This minimizes incisions and often gives a good result that patients are happy with, and avoids large chest incisions.  If a second stage is needed to perform a glandular excision or a skin excision in these borderline cases, then they can be done three to four months after the first procedure.

When does someone require excision for gynecomastia?

There are different reasons why a patient may require an excision, and there are different techniques depending upon the various anatomical conditions.  If a patient has a glandular component of tissue under the nipple areola complex that is not amenable to liposuction, then a small incision along the lower border of the areola is performed. This is called a periareolar incision. If the patient has large amounts of tissue that look similar to female breasts, or had massive weight loss which created sagging chest skin, then various excision patterns can be used to improve the appearance and flatten the chest. Techniques similar to some standard breast reduction techniques can be performed. The tissue can be excised and the nipple areola complex can be left on a thin tissue pedicle.  The nipple areola complex is delivered into a position higher on the chest, so that there is an incision on the lower chest fold and around the border of the areola. A free nipple graft technique removes the excess tissue and skin, leaving an incision on the lower chest fold, and the nipple is sited onto a higher chest position. The incision closures are similar to the pedicled technique.

I have loose skin on my chest after massive weight loss. What type of operation will I need?

After massive weight loss, many men have loose, hanging skin on their chests. Treatment commonly requires excision of the skin and glandular/fatty tissue that remains. Two techniques commonly used are: 1) a thin inferior pedicle reduction, or 2) a free nipple graft reduction. Both use similar incisions on the chest. One incision runs transversely along the lower chest fold, and the other circumscribes the border of the areola. The inferior pedicle technique may leave a narrow base of thin tissue under the skin closure to support the blood supply to the nipple and areola. This technique may allow for continued nipple sensation. The free nipple technique leaves thinner flaps of tissue, but the nipple will not have sensation because it is completely detached and re-applied to the chest as a free graft.

Where is the incision made for gynecomastia surgery if one requires tissue excised?

For patients with moderately good skin tone that have little to no excess skin, and have some glandular tissue not amenable to liposuction, an incision along the border of the areola may be used to remove the glandular tissue in a periareolar fashion. This incision is like a smile along the lower border of the areola. Patients with loose or excess skin may require a free nipple graft procedure with another incision along the lower chest fold, or they may have a pedicled reduction with the incision in the same place.

What is a free nipple graft reconstruction for gynecomastia?

A free nipple graft procedure for gynecomastia entails removing the nipple areola complex from the chest skin and using an incision along the lower chest fold to elevate the skin away from the glandular tissue.  The excess tissue and skin is pulled inferiorly towards the incision and tailor tacked. To make the chest flatter, the nipple areola is then placed back on the chest and secured as a free graft.   This technique will often get the flattest chest for those with excess skin and gland/fat.  The main disadvantage is that the nipple usually will not regain sensation, and it may lose pigment.

What is a pedicled reduction for gynecomastia excision?

A pedicled reduction for gynecomastia is an alternative to a free nipple graft procedure when a patient has excess skin and gland/fat. A very thin pedicle of tissue is created around the nipple areola so it can survive, and the superior skin flap is elevated away from the underlying gland. The excess gland is removed, and the skin is brought over the pedicle. The skin is secured to the lower incision and the nipple areola complex is brought out through the skin at an appropriate site.  The main disadvantage is it may leave a bit more tissue underneath the skin flap, which would be visible with a free nipple graft. However, sensation may remain in the nipple areola complex.

Will I need drains for gynecomastia surgery?

Drains are commonly placed in techniques that require undermining of skin flaps such as when using an inferior pedicle technique or the free nipple graft technique. It is not common to use drains after liposuction. However, some may be used when a periareolar access incision is employed for tissue excision.  The drains are normally removed when the drainage is considered low enough.

What is the recovery like for gynecomastia surgery?

Recovery varies from patient to patient. In general, patients are placed in compression garments or ace wraps.  If they had a free nipple graft procedure, then they will have small bolsters on their chest. The bolster is removed a week after surgery. Compression garments are worn for the other procedures usually for three to six weeks. Most patients can go back to work within a week.  Light aerobic activity can resume within three to four weeks, heavy exertion and lifting within  six to eight weeks.

Do I need a compression garment for gynecomastia surgery?

I prefer patients to wear compression in some instances, usually after a liposuction procedure. I recommend patients wear a compression garment for three to six weeks continuously.  Depending on the type of procedure, I may have some wear one either immediately after surgery or a few days later. For free nipple graft procedures, I sometimes have patients wait until the bolsters are removed before wearing a compression garment.

Can I have nipple or areola reduction only?

During many gynecomastia procedures in which skin and glandular tissue are removed, an areola reduction can be performed. If a patient has an isolated issue like enlarged areolas, it is possible to perform a circumareola reduction only.  For those with enlarged nipples, I reduce them directly. Nipple reduction can often be done under local anesthesia and has a high satisfaction rate.


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