No matter what you call them—man boobs, moobs or bitch tits—enlarged breasts are a challenge for body builders and their plastic surgeons. Here in our practice in New York, body builders with gynecomastia are viewed as a special group of patients who require a careful surgical approach. And whether they’re on the professional circuit or lift weights for their own enjoyment, body builders have their own set of challenges when they choose male breast reduction.
There are two notable differences in the way gynecomastia presents in body builders as opposed to other guys. First, the tissue itself is often very solid and fibrous, and usually localized under the nipple/areola complex (though it can be spread out as well). In addition, most guys who lift have very little body fat.
Given those conditions, a challenge for the plastic surgeon is to remove the excess breast gland without causing a crater deformity. That means watching carefully for the potential for this to happen, then finding a small flap of fat to fill any depressions. Other musts include avoiding contact with the chest muscles and fascia, sculpting a smooth and very thin layer of fat under the skin and leaving the smallest scars possible.
When we talk with a weight lifter in our consultation room, we know from experience that they may find undergoing man boob surgery a bit of an adjustment for a time. We go over what they should keep in mind and make sure they understand what they need to do.
Lay off the dubious substances
When body builders in New York elect surgery with us, we ensure they know they should not take anabolic steroids, hormones or even supplements in the future unless they are under the care of an appropriate physician. The ways steroids and hormones trigger breast gland growth are well understood—unregulated supplements can be equally problematic—and no amount of “cycling” or medications that supposedly counteract the effect of steroids, hormones and “steroid precursors” is safe. Read more on this topic and take our steroid quiz here.
Allow time for healing
One thing we have found difficult for some of our patients to commit to is taking time to rest and heal. This group is passionate about pumping iron and body sculpting, but we ask that they refrain from strenuous activity for three to four weeks. We explain that doing too much too soon can cause additional swelling, set healing back and even potentially damage results, making a small investment of time off well worthwhile.
Don’t be a perfectionist
Body builders tend to be perfectionists about their physique—it’s sort of the nature of the beast. We understand why, and we don’t feel judgmental about it, but this attitude can get in the way of evaluating results. For instance, it’s almost 100% certain that the only incisions we’ll make for a patient who pumps iron are around the edge of the areolas. After healing, the small scars will blend right into the dividing line between breast and areola skin—still, some guys complain. We can do injections to reduce raised areas when warranted, but many times there’s simply no need in our view.
Similarly, bodybuilders tend to be hypercritical during the recovery period. They worry about normal happenings, such as uneven swelling, and they may look at their chest in the mirror obsessively though we discourage this. We remind them to be patient, sometimes over and over!
Choose your surgeon wisely
Given the surgical challenges described above, one more task for a body builder is to choose his plastic surgeon wisely. Not all board certified plastic surgeons are gynecomastia specialists, and not all gynecomastia specialists treat a lot of guys who lift weights regularly. Gynecomastia.org is a good place to start a search.
If you’re a body builder wanting gynecomastia surgery in New York, or you’re open to traveling here to work with us, we would be very pleased to meet you. We hope you’ll understand the challenges on both sides of the doctor/patient relationship and commit to hearing our input, as we will do with you. Contact us and let’s start a conversation!
Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels
Reach out to Dr. Jacobs today to schedule your consultation!