Male breast reduction is a surgical procedure performed to reduce breast tissue in men. It is usually performed in adult men, as physical changes to the male chest during puberty often resolve themselves and make surgery unnecessary. Depending on the cause of the breast enlargement, male breast reduction may be cosmetic or therapeutically necessary. A plastic surgeon is usually involved in the procedure and a specialist such as an oncologist may participate as well.
The most common reason for male breast reduction is gynecomastia, a condition where the tissue of the chest is enlarged, and in some cases, tissue similar in appearance to the female breast can develop. This condition is associated with hormonal changes and can be seen in obese patients, patients undergoing hormone therapy, patients on certain medications, and people using steroids for physical enhancement. In gynecomastic surgery, the excess tissue will be removed and the chest will be reshaped to create a more aesthetically pleasing appearance. This is generally considered an elective surgery, as gynecomastia does not usually pose any health risks.
Surgery to reduce breast size in men can be medically necessary in cases where an abscess or growth is causing enlargement. In male breast cancer, male breast reduction is performed to remove the cancerous growth along with its margins, and the surgery may be followed with chemotherapy and radiation to eliminate the cancer from the body. In these cases, the enlargement is caused by swelling associated with a medical problem and thus it needs to be treated for medical reasons.
Breast reduction surgeries are also sometimes used in transsexual men. While the hormones taken during transition often cause the breasts to shrink over time, surgery may be necessary to address the remainder of the breast tissue and to recontour the shape of the chest. This procedure is done by a plastic surgeon and may include the use of implants to create a more muscular look, depending on the man's goals for post-surgical appearance.
Before male breast reduction surgery can be performed, a surgeon will thoroughly evaluate the patient. Images are usually taken of the chest to develop a surgical plan, and the patient's blood will be drawn to check for any medical issues that may contraindicate surgery. The patient will also have a consultation with the surgeon to discuss caring for the chest after surgery, expected recovery time, and any necessary follow up care. Patients may also want to know when they will be able to resume normal activity levels and can find out about this during the consultation.