Medically reviewed by Mr. Omar Tillo — MD, MS, EBOPRAS, FRCS (Plast)
Gynecomastia surgery, or male breast reduction, can be a life-altering cosmetic procedure if you experience insecurity with overdeveloped and excess breast tissue. Like any plastic surgery, it is important to factor in the recovery process, so in this piece, we will outline the recovery journey for gynecomastia surgery and hopefully alleviate any worries surrounding it.
What to Expect During Gynecomastia Recovery
Returning To Work
After male breast reduction, you are only required to rest for a maximum of 7 days, depending on the invasiveness of the surgery, before returning to work. If your job requires heavy lifting or rigorous movement, you may need to take more time off to ensure the most stable recovery.
It is completely normal to experience some discomfort after male breast reduction, resulting from the swelling and soreness, which will dissipate after a few days. Your surgeon may prescribe medication to help with this. Most people are able to continue their usual daily routines within 1-2 weeks.
Normally, you should avoid strenuous exercise such as weight training or long runs for 6 weeks. However, you can do light exercises during this time. We recommend low impact cardio such as walking on a treadmill or using a stationary bike or any exercise that focuses on the lower body and avoids the shoulders and chest. You should not attempt to put high pressure on your body whilst you recover from your gynecomastia surgery.
It is okay to get your stitches wet after male breast reduction, which means you will be able to wash and bathe immediately after. However, it is important to keep incisions and scars clean to avoid infection. Thorough aftercare instructions will be given before the plastic surgery, during which time you may ask any further questions.
It is not recommended to drive for up to 3 days after your gynecomastia surgery as the anaesthesia may still be in your body and can affect your focus. It is important to have transport arranged to take you home after the plastic surgery. In general, you will need to wait until you are off painkillers and are able to move without restriction in your arms before taking the wheel.
Gynecomastia Surgery Recovery Timeline
As mentioned previously, it is in the first few days that you will experience the worst of the post-surgery swelling and soreness. Your surgeon may administer painkillers to help subside any pain. Although results can be seen immediately after the gynecomastia surgery, they will be obscured by the swelling.
You will be given a compression garment that you should wear to keep the area secure and allow the body to heal while retaining your newly contoured chest. It is also important to sleep on your back during these first few days. You might find it useful to prop yourself up on some pillows to make it easier to get up.
After a week, you should feel more comfortable, and the swelling will have reduced significantly. You should still continue to wear your compression garment and avoid exercise that targets your pectoral muscles, as this area will still be delicate. However, you can resume most of your daily activities and engage in light and low-impact lower-body exercises.
In these weeks, you will see a lot more progress and will feel well enough to do most of your daily tasks. You should still avoid vigorous training and exercise. If you receive permission, you can now sleep on your side.
By week 6, you will have reached the end of your recovery journey. You will now be able to return to normal, including resuming any forms of exercise you enjoy. Additionally, you will no longer have to wear your compression garment, and you will notice that your scars will have faded considerably in appearance.
Gynecomastia Surgery Recovery Tips
Ensuring the best results of your cosmetic surgery doesn’t end when the procedure does. There are a lot of things you can do to have the most natural and best-looking results after the surgery.
Keep Good Posture
Keep an eye on your posture after your cosmetic surgery. Sitting up straight keeps the skin on your chest tight, as opposed to when you are hunched over. This will decrease the appearance of loose skin on your newly formed chest and lessen the appearance of scars during healing.
Massage the Tissue
Massaging the scar tissue around the breasts is a highly effective way to ensure the skin settles evenly. Post-op massages should only be done after around 3 weeks, or when the scars have healed considerably. They are best to do when the tissue is still soft and malleable, doing so carefully with your hands and with a roller device.
Additionally, you can book in for a lymphatic drainage massage which promotes the movement and drainage of built-up fluid in the body. This is especially important after surgery as swelling on the body may be exacerbated by buildup in the lymphatic system. These massages can also reduce scarring and contour irregularities.
Wear a Compression Vest
Compression vests are highly effective for keeping the treated area secure after surgery. The benefits of compression vests include reducing scarring, promoting healing, preventing bruising, reducing infections, and enhancing the contouring effects of the cosmetic surgery. A suitable vest will be provided by the clinic.
Monitor Fluid Intake
It is important to regulate your fluid intake after breast surgery to prevent the formation of seromas, which are build-ups of liquid under the skin. Seromas are usually harmless and will either go away on their own or with medical treatment, but they can be irritating.
It may take up to three weeks after your cosmetic surgery for seromas to become noticeable, which is why it is important to monitor your fluid intake beforehand. You should aim to drink no more than 2 litres of fluid a day to lower the risk of seromas.
As much as it is enticing to get back to all of your daily tasks and exercises after surgery, it is incredibly important to rest. When we sleep, our body produces white blood cells to strengthen our immune systems, release hormones that regenerate and repair our tissue, and also give our body the energy to heal. Without efficient rest, you may stunt your progress and cause yourself injury. For the best results, it is vital to take it easy and follow recovery guidelines. Resting will allow the treated area to heal quickly so that you can enjoy the results long-term.
What to Expect From a Gynecomastia Surgery
Upon your consultation, the surgeon will assess your individual surgical and aspirational needs. At this time, you will be advised if you need both tissue removal and liposuction and how the cosmetic surgery will be achieved. If you are happy with your cosmetic treatment plan and are confident that this is the most suitable cosmetic procedure for you, you will be able to book a date for your surgery.
It is important to remember that the cosmetic surgery is individualised and is based on your personal needs. Male breast reduction surgery can involve different techniques and a combination of surgeries. However, this will be made clear during your consultation, where your surgeon will recommend the most appropriate cosmetic treatment for you.
The typical procedure requires the patient to be placed under general anaesthesia or sedation. After this, an incision is made around the nipples. The size and placement of these incisions depend on factors such as how much excess tissue needs to be removed. The glandular tissue and excess skin are removed, and the area is then tightened with dissolvable stitches.
After the cosmetic surgery, it is normal to experience discomfort, bruising, and swelling, but you should not be alarmed as this will usually dissipate after a few days. Within 1-2 weeks, you should be able to continue your daily activities and light exercise. Full recovery after the cosmetic procedure takes around 6 weeks. In this time, it is important to avoid strenuous and laborious activity to promote healing. Follow our tips to ensure the most effective recovery.
Who Is A Good Candidate For Gynecomastia Surgery?
If you suffer from stubborn “man boobs” that aren’t budging no matter how much exercise you do, you may have gynecomastia that can be resolved with surgery. To be eligible for gynecomastia surgery, you should have no underlying medical health conditions as well as a BMI below 30.
Patients are also recommended to wait until at least 20 years of age before pursuing gynecomastia surgery in case the appearance of large and overdeveloped breasts is a consequence of puberty that will naturally resolve. However, you will be required to attend a consultation before a surgeon can confirm whether you may undergo the cosmetic surgery.
Schedule An Appointment With Creo Clinic Today
Dr Omar Tillo, board-certified plastic surgeon and Medical Director at the Creo Clinic in London, specialises in a range of body contouring surgeries, including male breast reduction. Having carried out this surgery numerous times, he is able to craft the perfect look for you safely and effectively.
With his extensive experience, he can design a cosmetic treatment plan that addresses your individual concerns and delivers a natural-looking contoured chest. Book a consultation with us or request a callback to get one step closer to a more defined chest.