Gynaecomastia surgery is a simple procedure that takes about two hours to perform. Gynaecomastia recovery is easy as well. There is minimal downtime and aftercare. To learn what to expect every step of the way, from the moment you wake up from surgery until you make a full recovery, this article tackles all your questions.
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Types of gynaecomastia surgery
Male chest reduction can be done to get rid of man boobs resulting from gynaecomastia, a common condition that causes enlarged male breasts due to an overactive breast gland.
Male breast reduction is also done for a similar condition known as pseudo-gynaecomastia. That means there is nothing wrong with the breast gland itself, but rather that a man has the appearance of large male breasts for various other reasons. For example, pseudo-gynaecomastia causes might include a genetic predisposition to store excess fat in the breasts after weight gain. Being too thin can also cause puffy nipples in men since the breast gland (located under the nipple) appears more prominent on a thin body type.
Finally, some men seek male chest reduction surgery to remove excess skin and fat after major weight loss surgery leaves the breast skin stretched and loose.
Standard gynaecomastia with VASER liposuction
What is gynaecomastia surgery? This is for patients with gynaecomastia or psuedo-gynaecomastia. It often involves male breast gland removal so the breast tissue stops growing. A small incision is made underneath the nipple in order to access the male breast gland and remove it. The excess breast tissue is surgically removed, and then the chest wall is shaped and the muscles are defined by removing chest fat with VASER liposuction, a new form of lipo that improves upon older liposuction methods of the past. The result is a flat, shapely male chest and no more ‘man boobs’.
Upper thoracic lift
Weight loss patients may need an upper thoracic lift. It involves removing a large amount of excess skin on the chest after a person loses a substantial amount of weight through diet, exercise or weight-loss surgery. The main purpose of the procedure is to get rid of loose skin that hangs on the chest. The chest may also be reshaped and defined with the latest VASER liposuction technology. An upper thoracic lift recovery time is longer than a simple gynaecomastia surgery because it is a more extensive surgical procedure.
This article talks about recovery from gynaecomastia surgery. If you had an upper thoracic lift, you can expect a longer recovery time.
Surgery day: Pre-operative appointment
It’s the day of your surgery. After meeting with Doctor Bernard Beldholm to discuss any last minute questions, the pre-op procedure begins. First, you will change into a hospital gown. Markings may be made on the chest with a special marker to plan where the incisions will go. This happens while the patient is awake and standing upright. The nurse takes your vitals. Then, it’s time to go in for surgery. A licensed anesthesiologist helps the patient drift off to sleep with IV anesthetic. Adjustments are made to make sure the right amount of anesthesia is administered based on body weight. At this point, the patient relaxes fully and safely drifts off to sleep. Once fully sedated, the surgery begins.
What happens during gynaecomastia surgery?
Gynaecomastia surgery usually takes two hours to complete the operation. In true gynaecomastia, the patient will need male breast gland removal. A tiny incision is made just below the nipple areola complex (NAC). Doctor Bernard then removes the extra breast tissue. Finally, extensive VASER lipo is used to shape and define pecs. Surgical drains may be placed to help get rid of excess fluid as the chest heals from surgery. Not everyone needs drains, but some patients will. The incisions are neatly closed in order to make surgical scars less obvious.
What happens after gynaecomastia surgery?
Now that the surgery is complete, the patient wakes in a comfortable recovery room. A nurse aids the patient as they regain consciousness after being sedated for surgery. It is normal to feel groggy after anesthesia. This is most pronounced in the first 1 to 2 hours after surgery. You may feel tired, thirsty, or nauseous. Nausea after anesthesia can be reduced by following pre-op instructions about what to eat, drink, or avoid before surgery. It’s very important to follow these instructions. In the recovery room, you’ll have time to fully awaken. A small snack such as a cookie or crackers may be provided. This can reduce nausea after anesthesia as well.
A vest is placed on you to help healing. Compression pads may be placed on the top of the nipple as well. Compression dressings help reduce swelling after gynaecomastia surgery. Swelling is a normal response to surgery. The tissue can be tender and irritated at first. Inflammation is the body’s way of responding to trauma. Gentle compression eases swelling in early recovery. The dressings are soft and comfortable. Compression garments also help skin retraction, closing the space between the skin and underlying tissue after surgical fat reduction is done with liposuction.
Is there an overnight hospital stay for gynaecomastia surgery?
Gynaecomastia surgery takes place in a hospital. Many men go home the same day as the procedure, right after waking up from surgery. They can recover at home after a basic gynaecomastia procedure. However, it depends on the type of male chest reduction procedure you had. An upper thoracic lift for major weight loss patients, for example, may involve an overnight hospital stay or longer. If gynaecomastia is done as part of a combined procedure to reshape other parts of the body, that could also mean an overnight hospital stay.
Some men are just having a standard gynaecomastia procedure. If insurance is paying, hospital costs may be covered — which means you could stay a few days in the hospital to monitor your healing for no extra cost. Most men have to pay for gynecomastia surgery out of pocket, though. It’s considered a cosmetic procedure, in most cases. Since overnight hospital stays can be costly, most men paying out of pocket can skip the hospital stay to recover from the comfort of home.
Your first follow-up visit after surgery
Whether you recover at home or in the hospital, Doctor Bernard will follow up with you on the next business day after surgery to ensure everything is healing well. If you had a surgery Monday to Thursday, your first follow-up appointment is the next day. If you had surgery on a Friday, your follow-up appointment will be on Monday.
Drain removal happens between 1 to 4 days after surgery. Any fluid that drains from the wound site is measured so Doctor Bernard knows when it is time to remove the drains. If you have any questions or concerns during recovery, Doctor Bernard is there for you every step of the way. He is an experienced gynaecomastia surgeon in Australia that has been performing the surgery for more than a decade with great results.
What to expect your first 2 weeks of recovery
The first week, you will be a little bit sore and puffy in the chest area. This is temporary. You’ll have a bit of swelling. Bruising may be present. The incision can look dark red or brown, thick, and crusty at first. Don’t pick at it. It will heal rapidly on its own.
Time off driving after gynecomastia surgery
You won’t be able to drive on the first day of surgery due to anesthesia. You can start driving a few days after surgery, when you feel you can safely operate a motor vehicle with full range of motion. If pain medications are prescribed, read the labels to ensure driving is not contraindicated. Most patients take one week to recover before driving.
Time off work after gynecomastia surgery
Recovery time depends on the extent of the operation. It also depends whether high-def VASER liposuction is used. Gynaecomastia with liposuction only (no gland removal) has the easiest recovery. There are no drains. Most men can go back to work in a few days. If the gland is removed and you had liposuction, drains are needed for four days. You’ll need a week off of work.
Exercise after gynecomastia surgery
Walking can get the blood flowing and reduce the risk of blood clots after surgery. However, don’t do any strenuous exercise or activities (such as lifting weights or heavy grocery bags) until Day 10 or later. Any pain or strain to perform such tasks tells you that you’re not ready yet. Listen to your body.
What happens if you do too much physical activity too soon? That could mean trouble.
The first 10 days, it’s important to rest. Raising your blood pressure in the first 10 days can result in reactive bleeding. During surgery, Doctor Bernard cauterizes (seals) the blood vessels to stop bleeding. A clot forms on each blood vessel. Doing too much exercise the first 10 days can raise blood pressure, causing the clot to come loose. If the clot pops off before it has a chance to heal, the blood vessel opens up and bleeds. This is called reactive bleeding. You’ll have to come in for another operation to close the blood vessel — adding time, pain, and inconvenience to your recovery. So rest and take it easy the first 10 days after surgery, ok? This gives time for the blood vessels to heal.
You can get back to the gym after gynaecomastia surgery in about 4 weeks.
Follow-up visits after surgery
In the first two weeks of surgery, you’ll come in for a few follow-up visits. Doctor Bernard closely monitors you to ensure everything is healing great. He’ll look for signs of infection, thankfully a rare complication of gynaecomastia surgery. In his experience, most men heal without any problems. If there is a problem, it tends to be mild and easily treated.
The third week, there are no doctor visits, unless you have a problem. The next appointment is at four weeks post-op.
LED light treatment
LED therapy is a non-invasive light treatment that helps reduce swelling and bruising after surgery. It is done to speed gynecomastia recovery. This may take place at follow-up visits over the first few weeks. Doctor Bernard will explain the benefits of LED treatments in more detail during the visit. Laser Genesis for scars is another good option that he offers.
Recovery weeks 2 to 4
By 2 to 4 weeks after surgery, you’re back to exercise, lifting weights, work, and driving — enjoying the shapely and flatter chest you desire. Most of the swelling has gone down by now. The results will keep getting better as swelling passes. Final gyno surgery results are visible 3 to 6 months after surgery. But your chest will be noticeably flatter and more manly starting from Day 1.
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How fast will you see gynaecomastia results?
Doctor Bernard’s patients are pleased to see immediate results after the surgery. Most swelling goes down starting two weeks after surgery. It can take 3 to 6 months for all the swelling to resolve, but your chest will look noticeably better starting from Day 1. There can be some bruising, which takes about 14 days to go away on average. The incisions take about 1 to 3 weeks to heal. The gyno before and after results are long lasting. If the gland is removed, it is unlikely to come back. The only way to undo gynaecomastia results is gaining weight. Certain medications and hormonal drugs, such as steroids, can make gynaecomastia come back.
Gynaecomastia scar healing
All surgery leaves scars. Gynecomastia scars are small and not noticeable once healed. There is usually a small scar below the nipple. It won’t be obvious to others that you had surgery. Doctor Bernard makes every effort to make scars small and fine so no one can tell you had anything done.
The scars can be dark red or brown for a while after surgery. Surgical scars may even darken at 6 to 8 weeks post-op. Do not worry, this is normal. It just means the blood circulation is increasing at the incision site to help the skin heal. Scars will lighten and fade with time in most cases. By 6 months, the scars should look light pink or brown, no longer as dark. By 12 months, most scars have lightened dramatically.
It takes 1 to 2 years for scar redness to go away. Red scars will lose pigment and start to blend in with the surrounding skin. A mature scar usually has a smoother texture than the skin nearby. Loss of pigment is likely to be permanent. The scar heals to a fine line that is not noticeable in most patients. If you have a history of poor scar healing such as keloid scars, please let Doctor Bernard know before surgery.
You can speed scar healing after surgery with proper scar care. Most scar treatments keep the skin hydrated. Topical scar gel with silicone or gotu kola (centella asiatica) can promote good scar healing. Doctor Bernard offers LED light treatments and Laser Genesis to fade scars from gynecomastia surgery and reduce scar redness.