Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Canterbury

Gynaecomastia surgery techniques & risks

If your condition is mild, surgery can sometimes be done under a sedative with a local anaesthetic injection. If you need more extensive surgery then it will be done using a general anaesthetic. You can read more about Having an anaesthetic.

There are various techniques, so you will need to discuss them with your surgeon. Breast tissue may be removed through a cut or using liposuction (a hollow tube). Sometimes excess skin needs to be removed.

Depending on what procedure you need, this may be performed as a day case or you may have a short stay in hospital.

Frequently occurring or serious risks and complications

FDP striped tie manLike any surgery, there are risks with gynaecomastia surgery. These are some of the serious or common ones.

Complications of specific operations

Breast appearance: You may have slightly mismatched breasts and nipples or permanent skin pigment changes. Another procedure may be needed to remove excess skin.

Breast sensation: Breast numbness, which is usually temporary.

Scars: The scars start as red thin lines, but usually become paler over six months to one year. A minority of people get raised, red and thickened scars (called keloid or hypertrophic scars). Tell your surgeon if you have had this type of scar before.

Recurrence of breast growth: This can happen if breasts are not fully developed before the surgery.

General surgical complications

Blood clots: Also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolus (PE), blood clots are a serious complication that your healthcare team will take every measure to avoid.

Infections: These include chest, urine and wound infections that can be slow to heal and need to be treated with antibiotics.

Bleeding: If you bleed too much you may need to go back to theatre for more surgery, and may need a blood transfusion.

General anaesthesia: The risks include allergic reactions and, rarely, potentially fatal effects on the heart and circulation. The risk is different for each person. You can discuss these risks further with your anaesthetist.

On the next page: Before and after gynaecomastia surgery

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Approved by Canterbury DHB Plastic Surgery Department 26 June 2014.


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

Page reference: 85854

Review key: HIGYA-125080