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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Gynaecomastia surgery

Surgeon reassures a male patient If your condition is mild, your surgery can sometimes be done under a local anaesthetic with a sedative. If you need more extensive surgery, you'll have it under a general anaesthetic. For information about anaesthetics, see Having an anaesthetic.

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

Depending on what procedure you need, you may have day surgery, or you may have a short stay in hospital.

Risks and complications

Like any surgery, there are risks with gynaecomastia surgery. These are some of the serious or common ones.

Gynaecomastia surgery risks

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

Breast sensation: You may have breast numbness, which is usually temporary.

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

Recurrence of breast growth: This can happen if the breasts aren't fully developed before the surgery.

General surgical risks

Blood clots

Blood clots are a serious complication. They can cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a pulmonary embolism (PE). Any lengthy operation can cause blood clots, but your healthcare team make every effort to avoid them. You're usually given special stockings to wear during your stay in hospital. You may also be given special medication to minimise the risk, such as a daily injection into your tummy.


These could include chest, urine and wound infections that can be slow to heal. In some surgery, there is also a risk of infection in the blood (septicaemia) that can make you very unwell. Antibiotics will be used to treat these infections if they develop.


This can be an issue during surgery or afterwards. If you bleed too much, you may need to go back to theatre for more surgery and you could need a blood transfusion. You may develop a haematoma (collection of blood) that needs draining.

General anaesthesia

The risks include allergic reactions and rarely potentially fatal effects on your 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. Endorsed by Canterbury DHB Plastic Surgery Department. Last reviewed April 2021.


Page reference: 85854

Review key: HIGYA-125080