What Is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is an overgrowth of breast tissue in males of any age. The condition affects healthy males who are in a normal weight range for their age and height.

Gynecomastia vs. Fat

Gynecomastia is different than fat that forms due to excessive weight gain. Gynecomastia refers to breast growth due to hormonal changes in the glandular tissue located beneath the chest muscles. If male breast growth is due to weight gain, diet and exercise changes are a better option than surgery.

Why Choose Univsersity of Utah Health?

Our plastic surgeons are all board-certified by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Our expert plastic surgeons have years of experience performing chest surgery procedures for men with gynecomastia. Additionally, our anesthesiologists are accredited, going above and beyond local and regional standards. At U of U Health, you will receive the highest quality care throughout all stages of your procedure.

Gynecomastia Stages

Plastic surgeons use a system to grade gynecomastia stages to determine what type of surgery would best treat your symptoms. The system uses Grades 1 through 4. Grade 1 means you have a mound of tissue beneath the skin that hasn’t stretched out your skin yet. Grade 4 means the tissue pushes out your skin and hangs down, resembling a female breast.

You won’t necessarily advance through all four stages if you have gynecomastia. Breast tissue growth usually continues to a certain size and is different for each person. It then stops and remains stable until treatment.

How Long Does Gynecomastia Last?

It’s very common for gynecomastia to occur in boys going through puberty. The condition is temporary for most boys who experience this and usually disappears around age 18. Surgery is not usually recommended in these cases. Instead, patients are reassured that the enlarged breast tissue will go away on its own. 

When adult males have gynecomastia symptoms, the condition often stays the same unless treated with surgery.

Gynecomastia Causes

Determining the cause of your gynecomastia is important to ensure effective treatment and recovery. Gynecomastia causes include: 

  • taking medications that result in abnormal breast growth as a side effect;
  • recreational drug use, such as marijuana or anabolic steroids;
  • gene mutations;
  • hormonal imbalances like those caused by tumors on your adrenal glands, and
  • unknown causes (idiopathic).

Idiopathic gynecomastia is the most common form of this condition. We will examine every possible cause to determine the best course of treatment.

Diagnosing Gynecomastia

The first step is a visit to your primary care doctor. They will help determine if you have symptoms of gynecomastia or excessive weight gain. Based on your symptoms, they may refer you to an endocrinologist or another specialist who will help determine if there are underlying reasons for the breast growth. An endocrinologist will help determine if a hormonal imbalance causes your gynecomastia symptoms. After these assessments, you may be referred to a plastic surgeon to explore further options to reduce your amount of breast tissue.

What to Expect at Your First Surgical Consultation

Our plastic surgeons will gather information about your health history. We will perform a chest examination to measure and assess the amount of fat, extra gland tissue, and excessive skin you have. This evaluation will help us decide the best course of treatment for you.

With your consent, we may ask to take photographs to submit to your insurance company to explore coverage options. At the end of the visit, we will discuss insurance versus out-of-pocket payment options. We are happy to answer any questions about the procedures and treatment options.

Gynecomastia Surgery: Male Breast Reduction

Gynecomastia surgery does not guarantee you will have a perfectly flat chest. The severity of your case and other factors will determine the results. Our plastic surgeons will help you form a realistic idea of what to expect after surgery. 

Your plastic surgery procedure will include one of the following. 

  • Liposuction  This minimally invasive procedure can treat minor symptoms of gynecomastia.
  • Removal of breast tissue — During this procedure, we will make an incision (cut) under the nipple and remove the breast tissue. We recommend this option if your symptoms only involve breast tissue that hasn’t stretched out your skin yet. 
  • Removal of breast tissue and skin — During this procedure, we will remove your excess skin as well as glandular breast tissue. It results in additional scarring, but it may be necessary if you have excessively large breast growth. 

Gynecomastia Surgery Recovery

All three gynecomastia surgeries are outpatient procedures. They involve general anesthetic and take about one to three hours. You can go home soon after your surgery, but you will need someone to drive you. Here’s what else you can expect during gynecomastia surgery recovery:

  • Liposuction This is the least invasive surgery. It results in two small scars, each about half a centimeter long, and some bruising. Liposuction takes about an hour. You will need to take about a week off from playing sports, exercising, or working at a physically demanding job. 
  • Excisional surgeries — These surgeries remove gland tissue, breast tissue, and sometimes skin as well. The procedure usually takes about two hours. You will need to wear a compression vest for a couple of weeks and will likely need a surgical drain to eliminate excess fluids from your incision site. You need to physically rest and not play sports or exercise for at least three to six weeks. You will have one scar under or around each nipple.

When to Call a Doctor after Surgery

Routine follow-up appointments are scheduled to ensure you’re healing and staying healthy after surgery. You should call your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms during your recovery period:

  • abnormal swelling,
  • drainage through your dressing,
  • redness, or
  • fever. 

Gynecomastia Surgery Cost

Insurance companies do not usually cover gynecomastia surgery. Your insurance carrier may cover it in rare cases where physical pain and mental distress can be proven. Ask your plastic surgeon for help with this. 

Gynecomastia surgery is considered a cosmetic procedure. Liposuction is the lowest cost option. Gynecomastia surgery usually ranges from $3,000 to $7,000. For the most accurate estimate, schedule a consultation with one of our financial specialists and let us help determine the best option for you. 

Gynecomastia Surgery Risks

Long-term risks of gynecomastia surgery include:

  • losing some sensation in your nipples,
  • asymmetry in your chest, or 
  • imperfections in the contour of your chest.

Talk to your doctor about the best ways to prevent long-term risks before your surgery. 

Schedule a Consultation with Our Plastic Surgeons

Gynecomastia is common and highly treatable. Your primary care doctor can send a referral to our office, or you can self-refer. You or your loved one can schedule a consultation with one of our plastic surgeons by calling 801-581-7719. If you previously had gynecomastia surgery at a different hospital and aren’t happy with your results, give us a call and we can help revise the procedure.