Gynecomastia – or enlargement of the male breasts – can be caused by various factors including genetics, hormonal imbalance, and obesity. This typically leads to an embarrassing condition that may negatively impact your comfort level and sometimes even self-esteem. Luckily though, plastic surgeons can alleviate gynecomastia through a rather straightforward cosmetic surgery procedure. If you are planning to have gynecomastia surgery in the near future, this article brings you up to speed on the recovery process.
Gynecomastia surgery recovery timeline
Most patients are able to get back up and resume regular activities within 4-8 weeks after gynecomastia surgery. How long it takes for each specific patient to recover will depend on their health status as well as their body’s healing ability. Immediately following this procedure, you will likely experience pain, uneasiness, tightness and even tenderness in the treatment area. These symptoms tend to dissipate within the first week. Your surgeon will require that you get as much rest as possible over the first 3 days. Surgery is traumatic to the body and you need enough time and space to regain your strength. Over the next few sections, we will delve into deeper details of gynecomastia surgery recovery.
What to expect after gynecomastia surgery
It helps to know what to expect after the procedure so you can plan ahead. Because you will be unable to lift anything above a few pounds in weight following this treatment, make arrangements ahead of time for someone to drive you home and help out over a day or so. Throughout the recovery duration, which can stretch up to 8 weeks depending on the extensiveness of the procedure and your healing ability, you can expect the following:
- Swelling in the chest area – gynecomastia surgery patients usually experience swollen and tender pectoral chest muscles. This should not concern you because the swelling tends to go away within a week. Take note that the body heals asymmetrically. Thus, one side of your chest may be more swollen than the other. Your surgeon may prescribe pain medication to alleviate discomfort at this stage in your recovery journey.
- General lack of energy – surgery is very tasking for the body. You will experience a general lack of energy that can go on for up to 8 weeks. Make sure to consume a lot of healthy foods and drink plenty of water and beverages in order to increase your energy levels. Furthermore, getting plenty of rest as often as you can helps expedite recovery. More importantly, listen to your body and let your surgeon know should you experience any worrying sensations or symptoms.
- Emotional ups and downs – it is not uncommon for patients to experience emotional ups and downs after surgery. This may happen right after the procedure or later on. Make sure to talk to a friend or loved one and let them how you feel. Keep in mind that these emotions will pass with time and that you just need a little support right now. However, if you feel that your emotions are getting the better of you, talk to your surgeon and ask for professional help. Taking care of both your physical and emotional wellbeing at this time is paramount.
- Itching – your gynecomastia surgery incisions may begin to itch as they heal. This is normal and only indicates that you are progressing well through your recovery. However persistent the itch may feel, avoid scratching or touching the area as this can cause irritation and impede the healing process. If your itching becomes unbearable, talk to your surgeon so they can prescribe an ointment to control the discomfort.
- Changed nipple sensitivity – it is not uncommon for your nipples to lose sensitivity or become hypersensitive following gynecomastia surgery. This usually lasts for about 3 months and goes away on its own. However, as the nerves in this area start to heal, you may experience sudden sharp pains. These should not concern you because they are normal during the healing process.
- Scars – scars are inevitable where an incision has been made. However, you will notice that as the gynecomastia surgery recovery time progresses – your scars fade and the color becomes less noticeable. To help with the healing of scars, your surgeon may require you to wear the surgical tape provided for up to 12 weeks. Your doctor may also scar care ointments or silicone sheets to help alleviate this concern.
Phoenix Gynecomastia plastic surgeon Dr. LaBarbera has extensive experience helping his male clients get rid of gynecomastia. Dr. LaBarbera utilizes modern surgical techniques and the latest technology to give patients the desired results while minimizing the risk of side effects such as visible scarring.
When to contact Dr. LaBarbera
Dr. LaBarbera will set up post-op follow up appointments that are necessary for the surgeon to monitor your progress after this procedure. Outside of these post-op visits, get in touch with the surgeon’s office right away should you experience any of the following:
- Constipation – this is one of the biggest problems that patients face after surgery. If you have a history of constipation, your surgeon will provide Colace or other solutions to ease this concern. Dr. LaBarbera knows that narcotic pain medications such as Vicodin can cause constipation. He may change your medication accordingly depending on how your recovery is going. You will also be asked to take light walks as often as you can and drink plenty of foods to stimulate your GI tract. If constipation is a problem, get in touch with the surgeon’s office to find a new solution.
- Infection – infection is rare but a possibility after any surgery. An infection would become noticeable between 1-2 weeks following the procedure. Should you notice anything off in the surgical area at any time throughout your recovery duration, get in touch with your doctor’s office IMMEDIATELY.
- Unexplained shortness of breath – many patients experience normal shortness of breath after gynecomastia and other surgical procedures. However, if it gets so bad that you can’t catch your breath, you must contact your doctor right away.
- Unusual sensations or symptoms – a normal recovery following gynecomastia surgery should be smooth and largely uneventful. Should you notice any unusual sensations (such as extreme pain) or symptoms such as a collection of fluid in the treatment area, get in touch with your doctor for an evaluation.
Gynecomastia surgery recovery FAQs
How to avoid blood clots after surgery?
Formation of blood clots is a real risk following a surgical procedure like gynecomastia. Phoenix AZ plastic surgeon Dr. LaBarbera recommends that you walk for at least 5 minutes within each hour while you are awake. This is particularly important during the first 3 days following surgery to prevent blood clots. Also, make sure to pay attention to leg pain and any swelling especially if it occurs on one side. Any persistent calf pain or swelling should be reported to your surgeon.
When can I get back to work after gynecomastia surgery?
Most patients are able to resume sedentary jobs within 3 days after gynecomastia surgery. Depending on how your recovery is going, you may be able to get back to physical jobs in 2 weeks. Dr. LaBarbera recommends that you make plans to stay away to work over the first 2 weeks following this surgery so you can focus on your recovery. Keep in mind though that our bodies heal at different rates. Talk to your surgeon and ask when you can get a green light to resume work.
When can you exercise after gynecomastia surgery?
After two weeks following gynecomastia surgery, you may be able to exercise areas of the body other than the chest. Start with non-impact cardio workouts and light weights. Make sure to progress very slowly. If you feel any pain in your chest area, then your body is telling you to stop. After about 8 weeks, you may be able to work out your chest and resume impact cardio exercises such as running. Talk to your surgeon about when you can get back to your regular workout regimens.
How long should I wear a compression garment after gynecomastia surgery?
You will be required to wear a compression garment in your recovery. This is important because it helps reduce bruising and swelling, as well as improves the aesthetic outcome. Dr. LaBarbera usually asks his patients to wear this garment 24 hours per day over the first two weeks following gynecomastia surgery. This can be reduced to 18 hours daily for the third week. You will be allowed to replace this garment with a more comfortable wear after about 3 weeks.