One question our New York gynecomastia patients don’t always think to ask ahead of time is about sleeping after surgery. It’s no surprise that this aspect of male breast reduction doesn’t top the list of concerns—patients’ thoughts usually turn to topics like results, discomfort and getting back to normal activities. But it is worth considering how to get optimum rest after surgery to help speed your recovery.
Before we get into our recommendations, it’s important to note that every gynecomastia specialist has their own prescription for how you should sleep after man boob surgery. We’ve heard everything from “no side sleeping for several weeks” to “use whatever position is comfortable.” You should follow the advice of your own plastic surgeon.
Here are the top five recommendations we give New York gynecomastia patients. (You can also read some of our input to guys in the forums of gynecomastia.org, here and here.)
1. Sleep in a reclined position. The more you can elevate your head and torso, the better. Some patients try to sleep upright, or nearly so, but we feel this is too extreme for most. You can try sleeping at a gentle slope in a recliner if this is comfortable for you. Or use a foam wedge or a few extra pillows to prop you up a bit in bed. Having your head and torso elevated at least a bit will help decrease swelling.
2. Avoid belly and side sleeping for a few weeks as much as possible. Even if you don’t often snooze on your back, it will probably be easier than you think for at least the first few days following man boob surgery. Swelling, small sutures and your compression garment will probably have you feeling most comfortable on your back. You can also place pillows alongside your legs to help keep you from turning in your sleep.
After initial healing, if you do end up on your side some of the time, it’s not a disaster. You may experience lopsided swelling that should resolve itself with no lasting effect. If you wake up on your side, you might want to turn to the other side for a while to even things out.
3. Support the “small” of your back. Some guys find that lying on their back for prolonged periods produces aches and pains in the lower back. We advise using a small pillow to support the area to help ease muscle tensions—a folded towel might do in a pinch. You can also put a pillow under your knees to give you a jackknife position.
4. Get up and move for a few minutes. If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable in the middle of the night, getting up and moving around your home briefly can help. A short break may be all your back needs to carry it through the second part of the night.
5. Consult your plastic surgeon about medication. If you’re really struggling to get enough rest and considering a sleep aid, be sure to ask your plastic surgeon about medication. If you’re taking a prescription pain reliever it may not be advisable to add something else on top of it. Your doctor will know what’s safe.
Generally speaking, we find that most gynecomastia patients we treat don’t have problems sleeping after surgery. Those who are light sleepers to begin with, or even suffer bouts of insomnia, are able to get the rest they need following their procedure. Since it is essentially healing from trauma, the body knows what’s best and makes it happen. Most guys find themselves craving good doses of rest on their back.
But it does pay to think about sleep and do some planning. Give some thought to what might help you rest and make sure those things are on hand: lots of pillows, a good book and some soft music, perhaps decaffeinated hot tea. Talk with your plastic surgeon about your regular sleep habits and any worries you may have.
Having performed surgery for gynecomastia in New York for thirty years, we have heard just about every possible concern about the procedure, including patients’ sleep issues. If you would like to talk with us about this or any other aspect of male breast reduction, give us a call at 561-367-9101.
Reach out to Dr. Jacobs today to schedule your consultation!