If surgery is your treatment of choice against gynecomastia, you know well by now that there is more to consider versus other methods you could have chosen. Apart from the preparation, recovery is also a significant part of the process where you play an active role. Therefore, it is important that you are aware of what is expected and what you need to do to set yourself up for a positive outcome.
A consultation can set the stage in determining which type of approach is appropriate for your gynecomastia surgery. Meanwhile, it is the nature of the tissues that causes breast enlargement, which is the deciding factor in whether an excision or liposuction should be used to resolve it.
Gynecomastia surgery may involve the excision of breast tissues that have swollen due to hormonal imbalance. Liposuction is also another approach, which focuses on removing unwanted fat cells. These two procedures can be combined in cases where glandular tissues and fat cells are present.
The amount of gland, fat, and skin to be addressed matters because it influences the kind of operation and recovery. To help you prepare, here’s what you can expect during gynecomastia surgery.
What to Expect During Gynecomastia Surgery Recovery
Immediately after surgery
- Immediately after surgery, you can expect bandages or dressings to be applied over your surgical site.
- An elastic bandage or vest, sometimes with elastofoam for added compression, will be wrapped around the chest. This is to minimise swelling and seroma formation, also to provide support.
- In some cases, drains may have to be put in place to remove excess fluids in the surgical site. This is to aid the healing process.
- You may not be able to abduct (move your arms away from your body), but you may be able to flex or extend your elbows.
Days after surgery
- Temporary bruising, swelling, soreness, and/or burning sensations may be noticeable on the surgical site. This will eventually improve after a few days.
- When extensive liposuction is done, the patient may complain of soreness in the area that is equivalent to a day of exercise.
Weeks after surgery
- The amount of swelling varies for individuals. Generally, it would have significantly decreased within 2-4 weeks.
- Compression garments may still have to be worn.
Months after surgery
- You may experience temporary loss of breast sensation or numbness which may last up to a year.
- It may take up to 2-3 months for the swelling to resolve completely.
- You may notice that the diameter of your areola is reduced to about 10-50% from its original size. This happens when a significant amount of glandular tissues are removed.
Post-Operative Instructions for a Successful Recovery
Post-operative instructions may vary for each surgeon. However, these are general instructions that you must take note of.
In moving around
- Get someone to drive or help you around the house during the first 24-48 hours after surgery. You may still feel sore with limited range of motion. Therefore, any assistance will be needed to prevent undue stress on the surgical site.
- Do not drive until you are no longer taking narcotic pain medications.
- Do not drive until you regain full range of motion with your arms.
- Get plenty of rest to help your body recover.
- It is best to give yourself enough time to rest. Return to work when you feel you are well enough.
- You may be advised to avoid sexual activities for 1-2 weeks, and any strenuous activity for 4 weeks.
- It is a rule of thumb in most operative procedures to take 4-6 weeks off from any heavy lifting or strenuous training. However, light activity may be allowed.
- Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids to improve the rate of your recovery.
- Take multivitamin supplements to help you have the nutritional requirements that can help you heal more quickly.
- Take your pain medications and antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor. Avoid aspirin or other blood-thinning medications to prevent bleeding.
- Wear your compression garments continuously for 4 weeks (or for as long as what your surgeon suggested).
- You can only temporarily remove compression garments according to the surgeon’s instructions, and it should only be for showering or laundering.
In taking care of your incisions
- Always wash your hands before cleaning your surgical site.
- Always keep the incisions clean and dry.
- Inspect the surgical site daily for any signs of infection and report any untoward signs immediately.
- Avoid immersing in a tub while sutures or drains are still in place.
- Keep the steri-strips in place.
- Avoid exposing your scars to the sun for at least 12 months to prevent them from darkening.
- Always apply a strong sunblock if sun exposure is unavoidable.
In managing scars
- The purpose of a post-operative breast massage is to break up or reduce the bulk of the scar tissue. A gentle massage must be used to avoid creating more discomfort. Massages should not be started in the first week of recovery.
- To prevent scar tissue formation, a kenalog injection would be an effective treatment.
- The first follow-up visit usually occurs 5-7 days after surgery. This is an important visit because this is when the sutures will be removed.
- If surgical drains were used, they may also be removed at the same time if the doctor observes that the discharge has diminished or is completely gone.
Other Important Reminders
The results of a gynecomastia surgery are meant to be permanent. Once the glandular tissue and excess fats are removed, they are gone for good. However, if weight gain or medications are the cause behind your gynecomastia, maintaining a stable weight and staying off these substances can help you maintain the results.
It is important to discuss your concerns with your physician before you make any changes to your prescription.
Remember that in any surgery, each patient recovers differently, and this will depend on several factors. You shouldn’t worry if the next person heals faster than you. As long as you don’t develop complications or any adverse reactions, then you are on track.
If you think that this is a procedure that you can see yourself in, be sure that you are well-prepared. Get your initial consultation today for proper assessment to see if you are a good candidate for gynecomastia surgery.
For a more comprehensive discussion on gynecomastia surgery recovery and other concerns, book your appointment with Dr. Daood, here.