Male breast

Also known as gynecomastia, breast reduction for men is the surgical correction of over-developed or enlarged breasts in men.

Most teenage boys experience some degree of breast enlargement affecting one or both breasts. However, by early adulthood less than 10% have a residual problem. This incidence rises with age, reaching approximately 30% (1 in 3) in older men.

The breast is made up of two main components, glandular tissue (firm and dense) and fatty tissue (soft). The ratio of glandular to fatty tissue in any breast varies from individual to individual and in gynaecomastia there may be an excess of both. If there is predominantly a diffuse fatty enlargement of the breast, liposuction is the usual treatment. This involves sucking out the tissue through a small tube inserted via a 3-4mm incision (see information sheet on liposuction for more detail). If excess glandular tissue is the primary cause of breast enlargement, it may need to be excised (cut out) with a scalpel. This will leave a scar, usually around the nipple edge. This excision can be performed alone or in conjunction with liposuction. Major reductions that involve the removal of a significant amount of tissue and skin may require larger incisions that result in more obvious scars. Most operations for gynaecomastia take about 90 minutes to complete and are performed under general anaesthesia.

Following the surgery the chest is swollen and bruised for a while and it can be difficult to assess the full effect of the operation. To help reduce swelling, patients are often instructed to wear an elastic pressure garment continuously for one or two weeks. It is advisable to refrain from exercise for about two weeks and, in general, it takes about six weeks before one can return to completely normal activities. The potential complications of the surgery are relatively rare. They include inadequate removal of breast tissue, an uneven contour to the chest and reduced nipple sensation. If an excision has been performed, rather than liposuction, then a blood clot can form that may need to be drained at a second operation.

  • The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
  • The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons
  • The Royal College of Surgeons of England