How long does it take to recover from gynecomastia surgery?
Your recovery time depends on how severe your condition is and how extensive your surgery was. The average patient, treated with a combination of liposuction and breast tissue excision, will likely be back to work after a week. Your surgeon will let you know how long it will be before you can return to your normal level of activity and work. Your surgeon will also give you and your caregiver detailed instructions about your postoperative care after your surgery, including information about:
- Drains, if they have been placed
- Typical symptoms you will experience
- Potential signs of complications
See options for short-term recovery locations in our LINK aftercare & recovery section.
It is vital that you follow all the patient care instructions your surgeon provides, including information about wearing compression garments, care of your drains, taking antibiotics, and activities. It is also important to know that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.
What can I expect immediately after my gynecomastia surgery?
- You will have bandages around your chest, or you’ll have to wear a compression garment. You also may have some surgical drains.
- When the anesthesia wears off, you may experience some pain. If the pain is extreme or long-lasting, contact your surgeon.
- You will have some redness and swelling after the surgery. Avoid straining, bending, and lifting since these activities might cause increased swelling or even bleeding.
- The first three postoperative days are critical in your recovery. You must be at full rest at home, either lying in bed or sitting on the couch watching TV.
- You can move at the waist and elbow, but you should avoid shoulder movement for the first few days. Lateral arm movements are generally ok but do not lift your arms up. Be sure to consult with your aesthetic plastic surgeon for instructions specific to you.
What can I expect during the first few months of my gynecomastia recovery?
- Your first follow-up visit will probably be five to seven days after surgery. Your surgeon will remove your sutures and drains at this time.
- How long you wear your compression dressing will depend on your surgeon’s assessment.
- For many patients, the pain is mild to moderate. With extensive liposuction, you may experience soreness equivalent to a strenuous day of exercise. Your surgeon may provide you with a prescription for a painkiller, but most patients only require extra-strength Tylenol.
- You may be asked to apply Neosporin or other antibiotic ointments to your wound.
- Swelling and bruising are normal after surgery. Bruising can range from minimal to massive and can be confined to the breast area or expand to the chest and abdomen. Your bruising may increase over the first three to four days and then diminish and become yellowish for another week. The discoloration will usually disappear in two to three weeks.
- You may notice a decrease in sensation in the area around the operated wound. This side effect is more common in patients that require significant liposuction. Most men find the temporary loss of sensation to be insignificant. Sensation returns after a year for most.
- In some patients with diminished elasticity (most commonly older patients), there may be excess skin or skin creases that are more noticeable postoperatively. Most of these creases will persist for six to twelve months and then diminish significantly, and the loose skin usually tightens.
- You will probably return to work within seven to ten days after surgery, depending on how physically demanding your job is.
- After male breast reduction surgery, there is a phenomenon where the entire areola spontaneous shrinks. The diameter of the areola can decrease ten to fifty percent from the original size and is most common when significant amounts of glandular tissue are removed.
- Avoid strenuous activities for the first two to three weeks to ensure optimal healing. Generally, you may resume low impact activities at two to three weeks; you may begin gentle upper extremity progressive resistance exercises at three to six weeks. You should follow the directive of your aesthetic plastic surgeon.
- Avoid exposure to direct sun or tanning for about six weeks, until bruising and most of the swelling subside. Sun rays will prolong swelling and may cause permanent discoloration. Sun exposure in the early stages can cause scars to become more noticeable later.
- Be patient. It may take three months or more before the swelling decreases, and you can see the final results.