Male vs. Female Breast Reduction: Is it the Same Surgery?

Is a male breast reduction for gynecomastia the same as a female breast reduction (reduction mammaplasty)? How are they different?

Doctor Answers 25

Male and Female Breast Reductions have Different Goals

There are similarities in the techniques and resulting scars used for male and female breast reduction surgery but the goals are very different.

  • In a female breast reduction the goal is to decrease volume, lift and reshape the breast into an aesthetically pleasing breast at a smaller, more comfortable size.
  • The secondary goal of the surgery is to do this with as little scarring as possible and to maintain breast function and sensation.
  • In male breast reduction the goal is to completely eliminate all breast and fatty tissue and return the breast to a masculine form with as little breast tissue and scar as possible.

Breast reduction surgery includes many, many different techniques and each surgery is unique and individualized to the patient undergoing the surgery.

Ontario Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

The difference between male and female breast reduction surgery: gynecomastia

Great question!

The difference in the two techniques is that in the female breast, the goals of surgery include reduction in volume and skin, as well as restoration of breast contour and projection.

In the male breast, the goals of surgery are the reduction in volume and skin excess. Although restoration of contour is important, it is equally important to avoid a projecting breast after surgery.

Male gynecomastia is performed via liposuction or surgery. The goal is to remove skin and volume through a limited incision.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Male vs. Female Breast Reduction: As Different as Cats and Dogs

Male and Female Breast Reduction are as different as cats and dogs, even if they do share some similarities.

The breast of a man has no functional or aesthetic significance other than its presence as a reminder of our common humanity. Therefore when the male breast becomes unnaturally enlarged for any reason, it creates a "feminizing" appearance to the chest of the individual. This causes embarrassment and reluctance to reveal the chest under even the most normal circumstances at the gym or beach, for example. Surgery undertaken to reduce the unnaturally large male breast therefore involves removal of the majority of the excessive breast and fatty tissue in order to restore the natural appearance of the male breast, which is a "flat" chest. Rarely (in cases of massive weight loss), some skin and the areola diameter also require reduction.

The breast of a woman, on the other hand, has enormous social, sexual, functional, and aesthetic significance. Nevertheless, excessively large female breasts can be not only unattractive, but also can significantly impair the woman's ability to exercise, find appropriate clothing, etc. It stands to reason, therefore, that the goal of female breast reduction should be different.

The paramount goals of female breast reduction are preservation of function, preservation of sensation, improvement of aesthetics, and minimization of scars. Since the procedure is often done before women have passed through their child-bearing years, the functional purpose of the breast should be preserved. For the same reason, the appearance of the female breast should be improved as much as possible and must be maintained as "feminine" at all costs, with minimal scarring, in order to avoid a surgical outcome that is aesthetically inferior to the overly-large but un-scarred breast.

When it comes to breast reduction in men, generally more is better. For breast reduction in women, generally less is more.

Athleo Louis Cambre, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

There are several ways to treat gynecomastia....

There are several ways to treat gynecomastia. Liposuction is the simplest way.

Sometimes liposuction has to be combined with a small direct excision of tissue that can be performed throught a small incision along the border of the areola.

Sometimes, if there is alot of excess skin, such as for massive weight loss patients, then similar incisions as a female breast reduction can be performed, but they are really very different procedures.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Absolutely not. Male breast reduction is more like a...

Absolutely not.

Male breast reduction is more like a mastectomy than a breast reduction. Breast tissue in a male is removed completely; only the nipple and areola remain while achieving a desirable contour to the chest.

The goal in a female breast reduction is to remove some of the breast tissue and leave a beautifully shaped breast.

The incisions and the surgical techniques are different. Liposuction is a significant component of most male breast surgery, with small incisions around the areola to remove the remaining breast tissue. Only when there is significant skin excess are incisions made on the breast to remove skin.

Female breast reduction is done with direct tissue removal through incisions around the areola extending down the center of the breast and occasionally extending along the breast fold.

Robert W. Kessler, MD, FACS
Corona Del Mar Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 129 reviews

Breast reduction is a different procedure for men and women

While breast reduction has been around for several years, there have been a number of recent advancements which have made this procedure not only safer but also associated with less downtime... for both men and women.

For women, breast reduction classically addresses several things:

  • It reduces diameter of the areola
  • It removes loose skin and tightens the breasts overall
  • It raises the position of the nipple and areola
  • It reduces the overall cup size of the breasts

To accomplish these endpoints, the classical breast reduction has relied on large incisions, drains, and extended downtime. In recent years, this has all changed. More and more physicians are incorporating "short scar" techniques into their practice which effectively reduce scar length and, quite often, may also reduce healing time.

In addition, for those clients who are good candidates, the VASER-assisted breast reduction has become a very popular way in which to reduce breast size--often with very small incisions which are almost unnoticeable when healed.

For men, the procedure is very different. Most men who have gynecomastia (male breast development) have far less breast tissue volume than women and, as such, are candidates for far less invasive procedures.

The standard treatment method for gynecomastia in my practice begins with VASER LipoSelection of the chestwall to effectively remove fat and better contour this area. This procedure is performed through a very small incision at the areaolar base. Following this, any residual breast tissue is then removed from beneath the areola by extending this incision and directly excising excess breast tissue.

Results are often dramatic and downtime is generally less than a week.

Gregory A. Buford, MD, FACS
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Male vs. Female Breast Reduction: Is it the Same Surgery

These procedures are not the same.  In a female patient the skin envelope is always reduced and part of the glandular tissue is removed.  In the male patient the skin envelope may not be removed and the inner glandular tissue is removed almost completely.

Paul Vitenas, Jr., MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 109 reviews

Male and female breast reductions are completely different.

This is a good question and often not understood.

  • Female reduction mammoplasty is done to decrease the size, improve the shape and appearance of the breast.  In doing so, back, shoulder and neck pain are reduced.  The goal is to leave a beautiful breast that is proportinate to her height, shoulders and hips.
  • In male breast reduction (gynecomastia) fat and essentially all breast tissue is removed from the man's chest so that the contour of his pectoralis and ribs is obvious and there is no apparent residual breast tissue or excessive nipple / areola projection.
  • Female reduction uses a "lolly pop" shaped scar around the areola and straight down the front of the lower breast for a distance if about 6 cm.  It fades over a year
  • Male reduction is done though a short incision hidden on the lower edge of the areola and is almost invisable a few weeks after surgery.
  • Liposuction is commonly used during both of these operations.
  • Patients are routinely thrilled with their change in body shape and improved self image.

Specifics about your operation will be explained to you by your surgeon.  Dr. Scott Barr

Scott Barr, MD
Sudbury Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Breast Reduction - Male vs. Female Breast Reduction: Is it the Same Surgery?

Not normally, though in extreme cases it may be.

In general, male breast reduction can be treated with liposuction alone or, in more significant cases, with a small excision of skin just around the areola.  That procedure is rarely adequate for a reduction in a woman.  For one thing, the nipple/areola often needs to be raised more than can be done with the smaller, limited procedure.  Secondly, more tissue typically needs to be removed.  The combination means that a breast reduction in a woman is generally a different procedure from that in a man.

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

Alan M. Engler, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 125 reviews

Male versus Female Breast Reduction Differences?

Thank you for the question.

The basic principles involved with male versus female breast reduction surgery are the same.  The goal for both operations is to remove “excess” skin, breast tissue, and adipose tissue.  On the other hand, care must be taken to avoid over resection and complications.Her think  Obviously, given the two different starting points with male and female breasts the techniques and the amount of tissue removed differs greatly.

More specifically, every patient's anatomy is different and operations should be tailored to each patient's anatomy and goals.

I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.