Risks of Gynecomastia Surgery

Important Information About the Risks of Gynecomastia Surgery

While complications following gynecomastia surgery are not common, all surgeries carry a risk. That is why it is very important that each patient fully understands all possible risks in order to make an informed decision before proceeding with surgery.  The staff at Mordcai Blau, M.D., P.C. is highly trained and has performed thousands of male breast reduction surgeries.  This level of experience helps us to avoid complications, however, if one does occur, we have the expertise and knowledge to attempt to solve any issues quickly.  It cannot be overstated how important a highly trained medical team is to a successful surgery.

Generally speaking, when there are complications, the least serious problems occur more often than rarer, more serious issues. Should there be any complications, Dr. Blau and his nursing staff will need the patient’s cooperation in order to resolve the issue.  In most cases, complications involve an extension of the recovery time rather than a permanent issue affecting your health.

Common Symptoms

  • Swelling and Bruising – Minor to moderate swelling and bruising is normal after a surgical procedure. Severe swelling or bruising may indicate internal bleeding or infection.
  • Discomfort and Pain – Mild to moderate discomfort or pain is normal after undergoing surgery. Should the pain become severe and is not relieved by pain medication, please contact our office.
  • Crusting along Incision Lines – Our office may advise treatment with antibiotic ointment.
  • Numbness – The sensory nerves along the surface of the skin are occasionally cut when the surgical incision is made, or if the skin is undermined during surgery. The sensation in these areas usually returns gradually over a few months as the nerve endings heal.
  • Itching – As nerve endings heal, itching and small shooting electrical sensations may occur. Ice, skin moisturizers and massages may help alleviate the symptoms.
  • Redness of Scars – All new scars are red, dark pink or purple in color. Breast scars may take a year or longer to fade.

Common Risks

  • Hematoma – Small collections of blood underneath the skin are usually absorbed spontaneously as the wound heals. A larger hematoma may require aspiration, drainage or possibly surgical removal.
  • Inflammation and Infection – A minor infection may require antibiotic ointment, with a more serious infection requiring antibiotic treatment. Should an abscess develop, drainage may be necessary.
  • Sensitivity or Allergies to Dressings or Tape – Allergic or sensitivity reactions may occur from  soaps, ointments, tape or sutures used during or after surgery. In most cases the problem is mild and can be easily treated.  In extremely rare circumstances an allergic reaction can be severe and may require aggressive treatment or even hospitalization.
  • Increased Risks for Smokers – Smokers have a greater chance of skin loss and poor healing due to decreased circulation to the skin.  We recommend that patients who smoke quit well ahead of their surgery for the best results.

Rarer Complications

  • Thick, Wide or Depressed Scars – While rare, abnormal scarring may occur despite the use of modern plastic surgery techniques. Injecting steroids into the scar, using silicone sheeting, or further surgery to correct the scar may be necessary. Certain areas of the body are more prone to scarring and scarring varies from person to person.  Your own history with scarring should give you some indication of what to expect.
  • Wound Separation or Delayed Healing – Any surgical incision may heal slowly or separate for a variety of reasons including: inflammation, infection, wound tension, poor circulation, smoking or external pressure. If healing is delayed the outcome is usually not affected, but a revision of the scar may be indicated.
  • Injury to Deeper Structures – While rare, blood vessels, nerves and muscles may be injured during surgery.
  • Medical Complications – All surgeries carry risks of serious medical complications. Having a board-certified anesthesiologist present at your surgery will reduce these risks as much as possible. It is also very important to disclose your medical history to the surgeon prior to surgery to minimize any risks of pulmonary embolism, severe allergic reactions, cardiac arrhythmias, heart attack and hyperthermia. While rare, such complications are serious and life-threatening problems.
  • Unsatisfactory Results – While surgery is performed with a high probability of success, disappointments can occur and results may not be what the patient expects.  Poor healing, asymmetry or unhappiness with the results may occur. Secondary procedures or treatments may be needed to resolve an issue.

Specific Surgical Risks for Gynecomastia Surgery (Male Breast Reduction)

  • Contour Abnormalities – Dr. Blau will make every effort to give you a good result, the area of excess tissue removal may end up with a contour that is slightly too high or too low. You may feel the edge of the tissue around the areolar dissection.  This is usually treated with massage and over a period of four to six months, the problem is usually resolved.
  • Reduced Sensation of Nipple – Reduced sensation is usually temporary, but it may take months for the nerve endings to heal.  In rare cases, permanent loss of sensation may occur.
  • Recurrence of Breast Enlargement – This is uncommon in Dr. Blau’s practice, where he has less than 1 percent recurrence as compared to recurrence rates of 10 to 35 percent in plastic surgery literature.
  • Seroma Formation – After surgery, fluid may collect under the skin that may need to be aspirated with a needle.
  • Hardness within Breasts – Postoperative scarring may occur within the breast tissue that can cause areas of hardness.
  • Static and Dynamic Depression – Static depression is rare in our practice and can be treated in various ways including fat transfer if not rectified within a year.  While not common, dynamic depression can occur when a patient extends his shoulder or assumes a bodybuilder pose.  This is usually due to adhesions and scarring and most commonly will dissolve after 1 to 3 years on its own.