Enlarged breasts in men and boys (male gynecomastia) are commonly treated surgically. Many men, however, worry about the recovery period. How painful will it be? How long will it last?
Gynecomastia (enlarged breasts) is not an uncommon problem for males. Hormonal changes during puberty and adulthood can make male breasts grow to become significantly enlarged. In many cases, gynecomastia goes away on its own. Sometimes, however, gyno surgery is needed to reduce the breasts.
Recovery after male gynecomastia surgery is usually not too worrying. You will need to rest for 2-3 weeks before you resume your normal daily routines. Some pain, swelling, and bruising are unavoidable.
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In this article, you’ll find a week-by-week recovery timeline. By the end of the article, you’ll know what you can expect in every stage of gynecomastia surgery recovery.
Normal Recovery After Male Gynecomastia Surgery
Breast surgery for men does not usually involve too much tissue removal, since men don’t tend have much breast tissue to begin with. This is why recovery after male gynecomastia surgery is not usually a cause for worry.
Here’s a list of symptoms that you can expect when recovering from male gyno surgery:
- Fatigue: During the first few days after your male breast reduction, all of your body’s energy will be focused on healing your wounds. You will feel like you lack the energy to do anything.
- Pain: It’s natural to feel some burning pain in your breasts after your surgery. It’s usually very tolerable and necessitates using pain killers only occasionally.
- Numbness: Some men report losing sensation in a patch of skin on their breast after their gyno surgery. This is not an uncommon occurrence and is usually temporary.
- Swelling and bruising: You will notice some swelling in the chest and armpit regions. These usually last for a couple of weeks before completely resolving.
Worrying Symptoms After Male Gynecomastia Surgery
If you’ve had gynecomastia surgery, then keep an eye out for any of the following concerning symptoms:
- Suture breaking
- Pus draining out of your wound
- Redness around the wound
- Unbearable pain
- Bleeding that doesn’t stop with compression
- Fever (temperature higher than 37.9 C)
- Excessive bulging of your wound
These symptoms might mean that you have one of the uncommon complications after male breast reduction. These include wound infection, seroma (fluid collection), and hematoma (blood collection).
Timeline of Recovery
In order to prepare well for your male gynecomastia surgery, here’s a detailed timeline of the recovery period:
Same Day Of Surgery
Male gynecomastia surgery is usually an outpatient procedure. You will be discharged on the same day after your reduction.
After you wake up, you will be taken to your room for monitoring. Your nurses will give you pain medications as needed. Once you’ve regained your full consciousness and feel like you’re ready to leave, you should be on your way.
Your surgeon will give you some post-operative aftercare tips:
- Take the prescribed painkillers as needed
- Take your antibiotic as prescribed
- Wear your compression vest for at least 4 weeks
- You can take 2-3 days off work
- No intense physical activity before 3-4 weeks have passed
- You can start light exercises after 2 weeks
- You can shower after 2 days of surgery
- Sleep on your back for 3-4 weeks
The results of male gynecomastia surgery are clear immediately after your surgery. You’ll have a flat chest with no more overgrown male breasts. The swelling and bruising, however, will need a couple of weeks to significantly resolve.
Your wounds will still be sensitive during the first 2-3 days after your male breast reduction. You might need to take painkillers once or twice per day. The swelling and bruising will increase to peak at day 3.
You can generally perform all activities of daily living that don’t involve significant arm movements and weight lifting. You don’t have to restrict yourself to bed. Go out, take a walk, see your friends, but take it easy.
After resting for 3 full days, you can usually go back to your job (unless it involves a lot of arm movement and lifting). Walking is encouraged, but don’t start jogging and doing other sports just yet. You can generally drive with minimal discomfort during this period of gyno surgery recovery.
The pain will become insignificant by the second-week post-surgery. You will not need any more pain medications. After the 7-day mark, you can generally go back to performing cardio (e.g. jogging). However, riding a bike and swimming might still cause some discomfort.
During this time, you will still be wearing your compression vest as much as possible (even while you sleep).
By the third week after male breast reduction surgery, you can generally get back to living your life like you’re used to. There will be no restrictions. You can go back to practising sports and working out, but we do recommend that you start gradually. We also recommend that you keep wearing your compression garment until a full month has elapsed.
Some degree of swelling might linger for a few more weeks, but it should not be noticeable and will go away on its own.
Returning To Activities
Since gynecomastia surgery for men is not too invasive, movement and activity restrictions don’t last too long:
- You can usually go back to driving by the end of the first week after your gynecomastia surgery. By then, there will be minimal pain and discomfort when driving your car and holding on to your steering wheel.
- You can shower as of the second day after your gyno surgery. Any skin wound can be washed 48 hours after surgery without risking infection or harm. Avoid full water immersion (bathing or swimming) before the 3rd week of recovery.
- You can start walking on the same day after your gynecomastia surgery. You can increase the intensity and start doing full cardio exercises after 7 days have passed. Weight lifting and activities that involve intense upper body movements will need to be postponed till after the 3rd or 4th week.
- Sleeping on your stomach
- It is recommended that you sleep on your back for 2-3 weeks after male gynecomastia surgery. This helps reduce swelling and bruising and protects your wound from pressure or tension.
- Going shirtless
- You will be asked to wear your compression vest for 4 weeks after your gyno surgery. After that, you can go shirtless when you feel like it, with minimal signs of surgery showing. Keep in mind that you should avoid direct sunlight and apply SPF 50+ sunscreen on your scars. Sun exposure can interfere with your wound healing and cause hyperpigmentation.
Male Gynecomastia Recovery Tips
If you’re worried about recovery after your gynecomastia surgery, here are some tips that can help you speed up the healing, reduce the symptoms, and return back to your normal life seamlessly:
Wear your compression vest
This might sound too uncomfortable, and many of our male patients worry about doing it, but wearing your surgical compression garment can greatly help with recovery. It will significantly reduce swelling and prevent complications like seroma and hematoma. We recommend that you wear it 24/7 for at least 4 weeks. If you can’t tolerate it that long, then we recommend that you wear your vest as often as you can. You should sleep with your compression vest as well to keep your wounds secure.
Massage your chest
Gentle massage around your chest wounds after 2 weeks can help stimulate blood flow and speed up the healing process. You can do this multiple times per day. Be careful not to push or pull too hard on your wounds, as this can disrupt the healing process.
As explained above, sunscreen is your friend. Direct Sunlight is the enemy. If you want your scars to mature and become barely visible, then avoid direct sunlight on your wounds for a few weeks after your breast surgery.
Moderate water intake
We usually recommend increasing water intake after cosmetic surgery to speed up wound healing. After male breast surgery, however, we recommend that you don’t drink more than usual. Drinking too much water can increase the chance of seroma formation (fluid collection).
Follow your surgeon’s aftercare tips
Before you are discharged, your surgeon will give you detailed aftercare tips and post-op instructions. You need to follow these to the word, as they can play a big role in achieving the smoothest recovery course possible.
Work on your posture
Men with enlarged breasts usually assume a position called “gyno hunch” – they bend forward and try to bring the shoulders closer together so that their breasts don’t show. After your gynecomastia surgery, you need to break this habit. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about (and there never was). Rollback your shoulders, stand tall, and puff up your chest.
What happens if you don’t wear a compression garment after gynecomastia surgery?
- If you don’t wear a compression vest after your gynecomastia surgery, your wounds will take longer to heal. The swelling and bruising won’t go away as fast. Moreover, wearing a compression garment after male breast surgery can reduce the risk of complications like seroma (fluid collection) and hematoma (blood collection).
Is gynecomastia surgery painful?
- There will be some degree of chest/breast pain after your gynecomastia surgery. Nevertheless, since the surgery does not involve too much tissue dissection. Most men report that the pain is bearable and that they don’t often require painkillers to handle it.
Is it worth getting gynecomastia surgery?
- This depends on your personal preferences. Gyno surgery can give you a flat chest with manly features. It will give you more self-confidence when shirtless or when wearing tight shirts. The simplicity of gynecomastia surgery, its short recovery period, and wonderful result, make it a well-worth operation.
Can you sleep on your side after gynecomastia surgery?
- We recommend that you only sleep on your back after gynecomastia surgery. Sleeping on your sides is acceptable. Sleeping on your stomach, however, is to be avoided for at least 4 weeks after your reduction.
How long after gyno surgery can you lift?
- You should wait for at least 3-4 weeks after your gynecomastia surgery before you go back to weight lifting at the gym. Walking and cardio can be resumed as of the second week, but lifting weights can put unnecessary pressure on your wounds, and hence should be avoided till later stages of recovery.
How can I prevent gynecomastia without surgery?
- There are several non-surgical ways to deal with gynecomastia in men, they include: changing your diet, taking hormone-regulating medications, avoiding steroids, reducing alcohol intake, losing weight, and exercising.
How can I speed up my gynecomastia recovery?
- You can speed up your gyno recovery period by following our tips: Moderate your water intake, wear your compression vest, avoid direct sunlight, sleep on your back, and listen to your surgeon.
Is gyno surgery permanent?
- Gynecomastia surgery results are usually permanent, and all the excess breast tissue is removed permanently. Nevertheless, gynecomastia can infrequently return after surgery, requiring further treatment.
What happens if gynecomastia doesn’t go away?
- If gynecomastia does not go away with medical treatment and lifestyle changes, then male breast reduction might be your only option.
How long does it take for swelling to go down after gynecomastia surgery?
- Swelling can last 1-2 weeks after your gynecomastia surgery. If you choose not to wear your compression vest it can last even longer. Wearing a compression vest, applying ice, and sleeping on your back can all help make the swelling go away faster.