The recuperation period after a gynecomastia surgery is 7 to 14 days, at which time the external sutures will be removed. Generally, minimal scarring occurs after the procedure and even if the surgery is not conducted laproscopically, the incision around the areole is well hidden by any hair on the chest. Some precautionary measures will have to be observed to aid in the quick healing of the wound, so here is a look at what can be expected in the post surgery recovery phase.
The day after the surgery
Patients are seldom asked to stay in the hospital for more than 24 hours after the surgery. However, correct treatment through the few weeks following the procedure is crucial to eliminate the risk of side effects like infection, discoloration and excess skin. Also, preventative measures will lower the chances of hematoma formation.
What to expect?
Patients are sent home with some form of compression dressing on the wound apart from regular surgical bandaging. Movement will have to be restricted for a while and the surgeon will recommend some exercises that will have to be performed 5 or so days after the procedure.
Patients who are on certain prescription drugs to control hypertension or other chronic conditions will usually be allowed to continue their medication. People who experience excessive bleeding during the surgery may have to go through a few drains to prevent seratoma. The compression dressing will be kept on for 3 to 5 days even after the wound is drained or a hematoma is removed.
The compression dressing
The duration for which the patient has to wear the compression dressing will vary from one surgeon to another and will largely depend on the severity of the gynecomastia. Generally, compression garments will be recommended for at least 10 days after the procedure; however, depending on the patient’s specific circumstances, this period may very well go up to a few months.
The kind of dressing used will usually include foam, ace or elastic bandage for the first 2 to 5 days after the surgery and a compression vest thereon. The dressing will be kept for 5 days following the procedure at which time the surgeon will take a call on whether to remove the sutures depending on the condition of the wound. The dressing will also be changed at this point. The patient can continue to wear the surgical compression vest or change to a tight fitting spandex t-shirt etc.
Post surgery pain
Post surgery is a distressing time for most patients; as the pain, the healing process and the apprehensions about the recovery phase and results weigh down heavily on most people. Fortunately, given the nature of gynecomastia surgery, pain is moderate at best
When a liposuction is performed, soreness lasts only for day and can be described as the pain felt after a day of grueling exercise. Doctors will prescribe hydrocone to alleviate discomfort and most people rarely need anything stronger than Tylenol to control it. However, if the pain is intense, stronger drugs will be given.
- Patients have to take complete rest for 3 days after the procedure; while they don’t have to stay in bed all day long, going out for a few hours is not permissible. Movements that are limited to below the waist and elbow should not pose problems; however, anything that exerts the pectoral muscles and the shoulder joint should be avoided. Lateral movement of the arm is also forbidden during this period.
- Tanning and direct exposure to the sun should also be given a miss for about 6 weeks after the surgery. The heat and sun rays can prolong the swelling and may lead to discoloration.
- It is possible to go out on prolonged walks and jogs after a period of two weeks. However, weight lifting and intensive abdominal and back routines should only be done a good 5 weeks or more after the surgery.
- Sex is also restricted for the first 7 to 10 days after the procedure.
- Certain medication will have to be avoided along with alcohol and smoking post surgery. Nutritional supplements should only be taken after getting them cleared from the surgeon. The intake of steroids will have to be stopped pre surgery and this restriction will likely continue for a few weeks after the procedure.
- Patients will usually be kept in the hospital till they are completely stable and have recovered from the effects of the general anesthesia used. It will be recommended that they bring along a relative/friend who can drive them home post procedure.
- Driving will be restricted for a few days and traveling should not be undertaken for at least two weeks; particularly if it entails carrying luggage around.
Massage will usually be recommended post surgery to break and reduce the formation of scar tissue. Gentle massage should be undertaken a week or two after the procedure. Kenelog injections may also be administered to help reduce scarring and a topical application will be prescribed; something along the lines of Mederma or other such preparations.
It is imperative to understand that the ultimate payoff to be expected post gynecomastia surgery is the ability to live life free of the condition and its psychological and physical ramifications. It would be disheartening to expect to come out of post op with an athlete like chest. Also, thorough understanding of what to expect in the recovery phase will help you to successfully get through this critical period that can have a bearing on the results of the procedure.