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What is Gynecomastia?

This term for the development of male breast tissue is derived from the Greek words “gyne” or “gyneko” meaning “woman” or “female” and “mastia” meaning “breasts.” Our Nashville, Tennessee cosmetic surgery office can treat gynecomastia in a discreet and relatively painless manner. 

There are three ages at which this condition is present: during the neonatal period, around the time of puberty, and during adulthood. Gynecomastia tends to be present when there is a relative excess of estrogen compared to testosterone. This is common in the neonatal period when there are still circulating estrogens and the condition usually resolves itself. The condition is again common around the time of puberty when the hormonal levels are fluctuating and also usually resolves itself as the hormones stabilize.

There are several reasons for the adult male to have or develop excess breast tissue. One of the reasons involves a genetic predisposition in which this body feature may simply run in the family. A genetic predisposition, with or without a little excess body fat, will lead to this condition, for example. There are also a number of medications and hormonal disorders that can cause gynecomastia. Fortunately, these hormonal disorders are quite rare.

Anabolic steroids can also cause the appearance of breasts and need to be discussed separately. Anabolic steroids are often taken by bodybuilders in order to build muscle mass. Unfortunately, one of the side effects is hypertrophy or an abnormal buildup of breast tissue. Most bodybuilders have very little body fat; therefore, the breast tissue that builds up is extremely firm and hard and presents a difficult surgical problem to remove. In some cases, a small incision is required around the areola in order to remove the firm breast tissue. At our Nashville, Tennessee cosmetic surgery office, we will discuss the best treatment option for you.

Gynecomastia Surgery

For most men, liposuction is the treatment of choice at our Nashville, Tennessee cosmetic surgery practice. The enlarged breasts are usually made up of a combination of excess fat and breast tissue. Both fat and breast tissue can be removed with ultrasonic liposuction. Ultrasonic liposuction is an especially effective tool for the treatment.

Ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty (UAL) is a technique that was first developed in Italy. Ultrasonic energy is produced in a piezoelectric crystal in a surgical handpiece. The ultrasonic energy travels down a titanium probe, which vibrates at an ultrasonic frequency, thereby emulsifying or liquefying the fatty tissue. The liquefied fat can then be suctioned out at low volume suction.

Ultrasonic liposuction is particularly advantageous in the treatment of fibrous fatty areas because the ultrasonic energy can be manipulated to treat both the fat and the breast tissue as necessary. There is less bleeding and therefore less bruising with ultrasonic liposuction compared to traditional liposuction.

The procedure is performed at our Nashville, Tennessee cosmetic surgery practice using one or two small incisions on each side of the male breast. The gynecomastia surgery takes about one hour to perform. It can be done as an outpatient procedure and there is minimal discomfort involved. Occasionally, an additional areolar incision may be necessary to remove firm breast tissue not responsive to UAL. For patients with excess skin as well as breast tissue, it may be necessary to resect skin with longer incisions similar to those described in female breast reduction surgery. This will be discussed with you at the time of your consultation and will be decided based on your skin quality as well as your ultimate goals.

In order to determine whether you are a good candidate for liposuction surgery, you will need to come into our Nashville, Tennessee cosmetic surgery practice for a consultation, or you can schedule an online consultation with our surgeons. Dr. Mary Gingrass and Dr. Melinda Haws of The Plastic Surgery Center of Nashville will discuss the procedure with you in further detail.


Recovery time is often short following surgery. A post-operative compression garment (a stretchy vest) will be necessary for approximately four weeks after the surgery. Normal activity may be resumed within a few days, however, there should be no strenuous activity, including upper body lifting, pushing, or pulling for two to three weeks.

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Meet the Doctors

Learn about our Board-Certified plastic surgeons and why you should choose two RealSelf 500 award winners for your next procedure!

Potential Risk

Occasionally, fluid or blood may collect beneath the skin after surgery, which may resolve on its own or may need to be drained separately. Strict wearing of the compression garment helps minimize this.

Other potential risks include scarring, infection, skin or nipple numbness or sensitivity. We will discuss the risks with you in greater detail at our Nashville, Tennessee cosmetic surgery practice during your consultation.

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Ready to book your procedure with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons? Contact us today to schedule your consultation and begin your aesthetic journey!