Gynecomastia is a surprisingly common condition. Affecting 30-35% of men, gynecomastia is generally harmless, but it can cause feelings of anxiety and self-consciousness.
Before considering surgery, you should determine whether you have gynecomastia or just an excess of chest fat. The latter can be dealt with through diet and exercise, which we have more details on, here.
Luckily, there are a few options available for dealing with gynecomastia, one of which is surgery. Surgery is never a decision that should be made quickly, however, and it’s always worth knowing the pros and cons.
This is exactly what we’ll look at in this article. Below, you’ll find out the pros and cons of gynecomastia surgery along with alternative treatment options. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll have enough information to know where you stand.
What is Gynecomastia Surgery?
Put simply, gynecomastia surgery is breast reduction surgery. It involves making an incision, typically around the nipples, before removing fat and excess tissue. How much needs to be removed depends on the extent of the gynecomastia and other factors, such as previous weight loss. Gynecomastia surgery is pretty quick, taking around an hour and a half for a standard procedure.
Pros of Gynecomastia Surgery
1. It’s a Permanent Solution
Unsurprisingly, gynecomastia surgery is a permanent solution to the man boob situation. By physically removing the tissue, you don’t have to worry about it growing back. This is why it can be a good option if you’ve suffered from the condition for a long time, or you have a lot of excess skin from weight loss.
2. It’s Very Safe
Gynecomastia surgery is considered a cosmetic procedure and is very safe as a result. There are some risks associated with it, but they’re fairly rare. Provided you see a reputable surgeon, everything should go fine.
3. It Can Help Relieve Pain and Discomfort
Not everyone with man boobs has pain or discomfort as a result. But if you do, surgery can be the most sensible treatment option. Sure, the recovery period won’t be that comfortable, but once that’s over, you should notice a decent boost in your quality of life.
Cons of Gynecomastia Surgery
1. It Can Be Expensive
In the UK at least, gynecomastia surgery isn’t typically offered on the NHS. According to the NHS, you can expect to pay anywhere from £3,500 to £5,500. Gynecomastia surgery is considered an elective procedure, meaning you’ll have to go private to get it done. There are some situations where it’s covered, but these aren’t very common.
The same logic generally applies in other countries, too. Gynecomastia surgery is considered to be cosmetic and therefore elective, meaning most healthcare systems will expect you to pay for it.
2. Potential Scarring
The severity of the condition will impact the size and appearance of any potential scars left by the surgery. Standard procedure is to make incisions around the nipples because these are much easier to hide. However, more extensive surgeries can require other incisions around the chest, which will be more obvious.
Luckily, most scars will fade over time, and there are plenty of treatments you can try to speed up this process. Bear in mind, though, that you’ll likely have some level of scarring for quite a long time and there can be various complications that might impact the success of your final result.
3. Not Everyone is Eligible
As with any surgery, there are some requirements you have to meet to be eligible. Specifically, men with diabetes or severe hypertension likely won’t be eligible for the surgery because these conditions can impact healing and blood loss. Considering there’s an established link between these conditions, this is an important point to bear in mind.
Should You Consider Gynecomastia Surgery?
So, this leads us back to the original question: should you get gynecomastia surgery? The short answer is that it ultimately depends on your condition and how it affects your quality of life. But you must balance this against the cost and recovery time, along with your potential eligibility. Of course, if you’re considering it, the first thing you should do is speak to a medical professional.
However, if you don’t think surgery is the right option, there are less expensive and invasive alternatives available. These include:
Gynecomastia can be caused by a hormonal imbalance. This can be treated with medication that’s considered “off label”, which means it’s not what the medication was actually licensed for but it’s been shown to help with other conditions.
If you’re considering medication to treat gynecomastia, make sure you speak to a doctor first. Hormone medication can come with a range of side effects and can clash with other prescription meds.
In most cases, medication is effective in the early stages of gynecomastia growth. If you've had yours for a while, it's unlikely you will have much success with this method.
Chest binding is the process of flattening your chest using tight-fitting material. Although you can theoretically use anything to bind your chest, it’s always best to use an actual binder because it reduces your chances of side effects.
Chest binders often look like sports bras or cropped vests, but you can also get binding tape. They’re fairly effective at hiding man boobs, but obviously don’t offer shaping elsewhere on the torso. Whether or not this is a good thing depends on what you’re trying to hide!
Finally, we have shapewear, also known as compression wear. You may already be familiar with this as a concept because it’s not particularly new. There are lots of different types, including corsets, girdles, short sleeve shirts and compression vests. For our purposes, we’ll only look at compression vests.
As the name implies, these use tight-fitting elasticated fabric to compress areas of your body, such as your chest, stomach and love handles. The main advantages of shapewear (other than it being far cheaper than surgery) are that it’s not permanent and is typically comfortable enough to wear all day.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that gynecomastia surgery is a big decision – not to mention an expensive one. If you think it’s perhaps the best option for you, though, make sure you speak to a medical professional to understand everything in detail.
Of course, not everyone has that kind of money lying around. So, if your man boobs are making you self-conscious and you want to try something more affordable and less invasive, compression wear could be the option for you. Why not check out our range of compression vests to see what’s available?