Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Before & after gynaecomastia surgery

This page tells you about what you can expect before and after your gynaecomastia surgery and after you've gone home.

Before surgery

You'll be seen in the plastic surgery clinic. Your surgeon will discuss the surgical techniques, the desired outcomes, the risks of the surgery and your recovery. Please raise any questions or concerns with your surgeon.

After that you may be seen at a pre-admission clinic. Bring along any prescribed or over-the-counter medications you're taking. Before surgery you'll talk with your anaesthetist, who will review your health and medication details.

People with nicotine in their bodies have more complications from breast reconstruction surgery. Unless you've been nicotine free for at least three months before surgery, it's unlikely you'll be offered surgery.

Nicotine free means not smoking, not using nicotine replacement therapy and not vaping products that contain nicotine.

Being nicotine free helps you to heal better after the operation. It also reduces the risks that go with having an anaesthetic. If you need help to quit smoking, use the resources on How to become smokefree.

When you come in to hospital for your operation:

After surgery

If you've had a general anaesthetic, you'll wake up in the recovery room after your operation. You can read about what to expect when you wake up from an anaesthetic.

You may be able to go home that day, or you may need a short stay in hospital – it will depend on the type of surgery you had. You'll need someone to drive you home, please arrange this in advance.

At first, your breasts will be swollen, sore and bruised. The swelling will be treated with an elastic dressing. Most of the swelling will go in a few weeks, but it can take three months to see the final shape of your breasts.

You may have a plastic tube to drain excess fluid out of your breasts and you may have a drip giving you fluids until you're drinking normally.

To prevent blood clots, you'll be fitted with compression (TED) stockings, which you'll wear until you're active at home. If you're at a higher risk of blood clots, you'll also get a daily injection.

At home

If you want telephone advice after you have left the hospital:


See your GP, after-hours GP, or go to the Emergency Department as soon as possible if you have:

Wound care

Your stitches will dissolve by themselves – see your GP if they're causing irritation. The wounds are covered with adhesive strips in the operating theatre. You can leave these until they fall off. Then replace them with 1 cm- to 2 cm-wide paper tape from a pharmacy. The tape keeps the scar line covered, which reduces the risk of lumpy, itchy or wide scars. Continue with the tape for three to six months or until the scars fade from red to white.

It's safe to shower on the third day, but do not soak the wounds in the bath or a swimming pool until they're completely healed over (usually after two weeks).

Pain relief

Take the pain relief pills prescribed by the hospital. As you become more comfortable, continue with paracetamol (two pills, four times a day) but take less of the other pills. When you're comfortable only taking paracetamol, start taking it just when you need it.

An ice pack may also help reduce the swelling and pain.

Follow-up appointment

You'll get an appointment at the plastic surgery outpatients clinic to review the operation result.

Activities and work

You can drive once you're comfortable, which can be after one day or one week. It could be a few days or a few weeks until you're comfortable enough to work. Avoid heavy exercise for around three weeks or as advised. Avoid contact sports for six weeks. Avoid sun exposure by covering up or using sunscreen (at least SPF 30), as this will affect the scar pigmentation.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by Canterbury DHB Plastic Surgery Department. Last reviewed April 2021.


See also:

Communication cards in multiple languages

Overview of surgery

Pain relief for adults on discharge from hospital

Page reference: 85857

Review key: HIGYA-125080