11 June 2019
It’s summer and though, being the UK, you have to pack your kit bag for all weathers it’s likely at some point you’ll have to take your shirt off if you’ve been sweating whilst playing a sport such as football. If you’re one of the thousands of men who are embarrassed by ‘man boobs’ or ‘moobs’ and how your chest looks then you might feel awkward or self-conscious doing this. But there could be a solution that allows you to bare your chest - have you considered Gynaecomastia surgery? We asked Consultant Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon Mr John Dickinson to explain what this procedure involves. He writes:
“Enlargement of the male breast is often associated with excess fatty tissue in the area, and despite many hours in the gym men can find that it creates a breast like bulge over the pectoral area of the chest. Such enlargement is common during growth spurts in the later teens but usually subsides. If, however, the prominence does not subside or new growth occurs you should check with your GP first, to see if any investigations are required and to check your general health. If new growth occurs in later life, particularly if it is on one side, it is very important that you do check in with your GP as men can suffer from breast cancer, though it is relatively rare.
Putting on weight is the usual cause of developing male breast prominence in adults and controlling weight is a safe and cheap way to treat male breast enlargement, before seeking surgery. Sometimes though, hours spent running or lifting weights simply have no effect. Mr Dickinson has seen many men who have sought help after feeling distressed by the condition with some even experiencing depression and a sense of social alienation.
Traditionally, treatment of the condition has been by liposuction or surgery. Reducing the prominence with liposuction is possible, as it is mainly fatty tissue, but it is not always successful as, physiologically, all men do have a firm pad of breast tissue. This cannot be removed with liposuction and thus may leave some prominence. Breast tissue can be excised surgically but an open operation can leave large scars and a large wound. Excess bleeding and blood clots can also occur.
A more recently developed treatment uses both liposuction and excision. Liposuction is the primary procedure and is used to remove surrounding fatty tissue to contour the area and loosen the pad of breast tissue. A small incision is then made in the lower margin of the areola which is the darker skin surrounding the nipple. This incision is approximately 2 cm long. Through this incision, the pad of breast tissue can be removed in small pieces avoiding a large open wound. Some breast tissue is preserved behind the nipple to avoid a dip in this area.
A drain may be required in the wound for 24-48 hrs. The wound is closed with a buried suture and suture tapes with a waterproof dressing so that you can shower. A firm elasticated support is required for 2-4 weeks after surgery to apply some pressure to the chest."
This latter treatment pathway is the procedure Mr Dickinson recommends. Whether you are suitable for this operation can only really be determined by examining you and discussing the expected outcome of the three different procedures described with you, during a full consultation. It is important, as with any surgery, that you are fully aware of any risks associated with the operation and these will be discussed with you fully in clinic.
Mr Dickinson does offer free 10 minute consultations where you can ask general questions about the issue in a friendly and unpressured environment. To find out availability of these please call us.