Many men suffer from a condition called gynaecomastia, which means male breast enlargement. It can affect one or both breasts. Gynaecomastia affects almost half of adolescent boys due to a hormonal imbalance at puberty, but the vast majority of these grow out of it at the end of puberty. It can also occur in certain diseases and as a side effect of some medicines and drugs. Important causes can be excluded by a careful clinical examination and by blood screening tests. The condition can cause physical discomfort in addition to the increased breast tissue contributing to impaired confidence, low self-esteem and reluctance to participate in sports and lack of confidence in relationships.
There are a variety of surgical procedures to treat gynaecomastia. Most commonly it is treated by a combination of liposuction and surgical removal of the central breast mound through a scar around the lower half of the nipple. In larger breasts with excess skin, larger scars may be required.
Surgical procedures to treat gynaecomastia may be partially rebatable by all leading private health funds. It is important to obtain a referral from your family doctor to be eligible for this.
Am I suitable for Gynaecomastia correction?
Men in good general health and within a healthy weight range will be best suited to this procedure. Individual suitability is a matter for you to discuss with Dr Woods during your clinical consultation. During this consultation, Dr Woods will discuss with you the particular that will best address your concerns.
What are the benefits of Gynaecomastia correction?
This surgery flattens the chest wall area and usually allows greater definition of the underlying pectoralis muscles. The operation is very effective in improving patient confidence and allowing patients to participate in sport and wear clothes that they were reluctant to wear previously.
Where are the scars?
The scars will vary depending on the treatment approach used. Most commonly these will be along the lower curve of the nipple, which is an area that fades well. Dr Woods will discuss with you the preferred treatment option for your condition to minimise scars and provide the best end result.
Is the procedure painful?
The operation is not a particularly painful procedure, though it is not uncommon to feel some discomfort in the breast area, particularly for the first few days. Usually pain can be managed with simple analgesics like paracetamol, and stronger pain relief tablets are provided if needed.
How long does it take to recover from surgery?
After surgery, you will need to wear a firm compression garment for 6 weeks to assist in minimising swelling and help to create the best final result. You can usually return to work after two weeks, if you can restrict yourself to light duties. After 6 weeks, you will be able to return to vigorous exercise and any activities involving heavy lifting.
When will I notice the results and how long will they last?
The change in chest contour and appearance will be immediately apparent when you wake up from your procedure. A full appreciation of the changes requires bruising and swelling due to the procedure to settle and for the normal scar maturation process to occur. The final result can usually be judged at 6 months following surgery, though the scars will continue to fade until 12 months after surgery. Results of male breast reduction are long lasting.
Will I be told the risks and complications?
All operations have a risk of complications, however major complications are rare after gynaecomastia correction. During your initial consultation, Dr Woods will have a thorough discussion with you about the risks and complications of surgery. Fortunately with careful selection of the correct procedure for the specific patient's concerns, risks can be kept to a minimum. You can be reassured that Dr Woods will only recommend surgery if he feels that the benefits of the procedure substantially outweigh the risks.
Important Note when Choosing Your Surgeon
In Australia, just about anyone with a standard medical degree is allowed to perform cosmetic surgery. In fact, currently there is no legislation to stop any doctor from calling themselves a 'surgeon', even without formal surgical training.
Your only safeguard is to look for the letters FRACS under a doctor's name and check that they are affiliated with the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), as only fully qualified plastic surgeons have these titles and memberships. They confirm that your doctor has completed many years (at least 10 years) of training and examinations in surgery -far beyond the medical school period.