Probably the most requested cosmetic procedure for males is male breast reduction for a condition called gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is the term for male breast development and has been the subject of countless jokes and even a Seinfeld episode-remember the “bro”. For decades, most men just had to deal with it, hiding their male breast development under layers of shirts and avoiding situations that may require them being shirtless such as, pools, hot tubs, and of course, the beach. Recently, a number of advances have made treatment for gynecomastia easier and more predictable which is great news for those guys suffering with the condition and also for their families-after all, who doesn’t want to go to the beach?
Like lots of things in medicine, the types of treatments have gone through lots of variations with the pendulum swinging from open, excision treatment all the way to liposuction alone. The problem is that neither of these techniques alone often addressed all of the patient’s concerns. The open, excision treatment often required large incisions that left visible scarring and a long recovery period. The liposuction alone treatment had smaller incisions which hid very well but often left some of the male breast tissue behind. While the recovery was quicker, the results were often less than to be desired.
Now, by combining these techniques, plastic surgeons can obtain the results the patients and the plastic surgeons were looking for often without the longer scars and prolonged recovery period. Today, plastic surgeons will frequently use liposuction to debulk and thin the male breast and then use a short, limited incision just around the nipple to take out the breast tissue that is too thick and fibrous to be suctioned away by liposuction. The result is an improved result with less scarring and a faster recovery. A recent study by B. Venkata Ratnam demonstrated that this combination of techniques also had a very low complication rate and a very high patient satisfaction level.
Given that summer is just around the corner with swimming, boating, and all the other great outdoor activities, it is easy to see why more men are seeking an answer to this frustrating problem and it is good to see that plastic surgeons have that answer. Here’s to a shirtless summer at the beach!!!
Herluf Lund MD