Liposuction for Men or Male Breast Reduction?

Medically reviewed by Dr. John Rosdeutscher – Written by Sine Thieme

Liposuction is a great way to reduce excess fat – not only around the abdomen, but also in the chest area for men. At our NuBody Concepts cosmetic surgery centers in Nashville and Memphis, our surgeons often use liposuction to reduce enlarged male breasts (a condition known as gynecomastia). So what is the difference between liposuction for men and a male breast reduction? This article will discuss your best option to remove excess fat from the chest.

Gynecomastia aka Man Boobs

When you retain excess fat and glandular tissue in the chest area, this will cause a condition called gynecomastia. Typically, these “man boobs” are caused by aging and an inevitable loss of skin elasticity, but it does not only affect older men. Younger men can also struggle with enlarged breasts. In fact, research shows that almost 50% of men in the United States experience some degree of gynecomastia during their lifetime.

Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Mark Peters of NuBody Concepts Memphis discusses his treatment plan for gynecomastia

You may not believe this, but men actually do have breasts, just like women. Incredibly, they even have milk ducts. However, in most men the breast tissue does not develop the same way as it does for women. During puberty, their higher levels of testosterone stunt this kind of growth.

However, variations in testosterone and estrogen levels can cause a swelling of breast tissue, sometimes even tenderness. If you are experiencing these symptoms at a fairly young age, you may want to have it checked by a doctor to rule out any medical conditions. 

But the majority of men experiencing gynecomastia simply have too much fat on their chests.

Treatment Options for Gynecomastia

When it comes to the treatment of any medical or cosmetic condition, it makes sense to first look at the least invasive option, as it carries the least amount of risk to the patient. However, you will want to weigh invasiveness vs success rate and results. A more invasive procedure that takes care of the problem in a relatively short time may be more desirable.

Below we will compare different treatments and procedures for the reduction of male breasts.

Liposuction for Male Chest

Why liposuction? Isn’t that so yesterday, like bell bottom pants?

Because it is only minimally-invasive, liposuction should always be among the first treatment options considered for enlarged male breasts. Removing fat with liposuction is a great way to remove the excess fat from your chest without the need for surgery.

You may think, why liposuction? Isn’t that so yesterday, like bell bottom pants? But you’d be wrong to dismiss it. One reason liposuction has stuck around for as long as it has is that it works extremely well. In addition, advances in medical technology in the last few decades have brought new liposuction methods on the market that yield even better fat removal and skin tightening results than before.

Liposuction with Skin Tightening

One such method is radio frequency assisted lipolysis (RFAL). It uses radio frequency energy to contract the tissues under the skin to reduce sagging and wrinkles. The procedure is very similar to liposuction, but instead of using a wand to suction off fat, a different wand is used to heat the deep and superficial fatty tissue layers of the skin, thereby tightening and improving the contours in the treated areas. It makes an excellent complement to liposuction – the plastic surgeon first passes over all the areas to suction off the fat, and then makes a second pass, while the area is still sedated, with the RFAL device.

Talk to your plastic surgeon about adding an RFAL skin tightening treatment such as BodyTite or Renuvion to your liposuction for men procedure. In medical terms, this is still considered liposuction, even though the skin tightening part doesn’t really suction off fat in the literal sense. Either way, both together are still a minimally-invasive procedure as opposed to surgery. Studies have shown that RFAL skin tightening can achieve 35% to 65% skin contraction over the course of six months to a year, which is remarkable if you consider that there are no sutures, wound healing or scars with this kind of procedure.

Glandular Excision

There are instances of gynecomastia that do require surgery to excise the residual gland. Surgical excision is what you might think of when considering a male breast reduction. But as we have shown above, there are many other less invasive options to consider. You shouldn’t let the fear or reluctance of surgery keep you from considering cosmetic surgery to give you a more aesthetically pleasing chest.

What’s also important to know is that combined with the latest RFAL skin tightening technology, a very small excision is typically sufficient to remove the breast gland. This allows you to heal much faster which less downtime than a more traditional male breast reduction you might have gotten 30 years ago for the same condition.

NuBody Concepts patient before and after male breast reduction using liposuction
This NuBody Concepts patient had liposuction on both his abdomen and chest area.

Male breast reduction before and after picture of NuBody Concepts patient
This patient of Dr. Peters had skin tightening with BodyTite as well as a breast gland excision.

Other Male Breast Reduction Options

It should be mentioned here that the least invasive option to reduce the amount of fat in your chest is to lose weight. Losing weight overall will also reduce the size of fat pockets in the chest area. Diet and exercise are one way to achieve that. If you’ve tried with only mixed success, you might consider a gastric balloon for weight loss.

Another treatment we’d like to mention here is non-invasive skin tightening. Morpheus and Exilis are examples of technologies that apply radio-frequency or ultrasound externally to contract skin. If you have excess skin on your chest – which could be due to substantial weight loss or just the aging process – more than you have excess fat, such a treatment might help to tighten up your skin. It is similar to BodyTite and Renuvion, but only applied externally, so there is truly no downtime at all. But it’s also not quite as effective in terms of result.

What to Expect from a Male Breast Reduction

A male breast reduction looks very much like any liposuction for men procedure: The surgeon applies a saline solution with lidocaine through several small incisions on either side of the chest. This “wetting” solution sedates the treatment area. He or she then suctions off the fat through these incisions while sculpting the chest to its trimmer contour. While you are already being treated, you might consider adding more areas of liposuction such as love handles or the abdomen.

If liposuction is all you’re having, you are now finished. If you’ve opted for skin tightening in addition to liposuction, your surgeon makes a second pass through the same treatment area to apply the radio frequency generated heat.

If your surgeon diagnoses residual glandular tissue, he or she may excise it with minor surgery after any lipo or skin tightening is finished.

Most patients are able to return to work or their regular activities within 1-2 days as tolerated. You will typically be instructed to refrain from strenuous exercise for 1-2 weeks. Even if you have glandular excision done, the incisions are typically small and can be disguised within the contours of the chest. The fat that was removed will be permanently gone so that if you maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular diet and exercise, your results will remain permanent as well.

So should I have liposuction for men or a male breast reduction?

Liposuction for men, together with skin tightening, is an excellent way to treat gynecomastia without surgery. Many surgeons call this a male breast reduction. It is a matter of semantics whether you use the term “male breast reduction” only for procedures that include surgery, or for a broader category of treatments for enlarged male breasts.

Keeping in mind the end goal, which is to reduce male breasts, liposuction for men is essentially the same as a male breast reduction. Contact our Nashville or Memphis cosmetic surgery center today to schedule a consultation with a plastic surgeon to get started!

Medically reviewed by Dr. John Rosdeutscher – Written by Sine Thieme