Can Nipple Reduction Be Performed At The Same Time As Gynecomastia Reduction Surgery?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I am interested in gynecomastia reduction surgery with nipple reduction at the same time. But did have one concern that another physician raised regarding a nipple reduction – specifically, the physician was very hesitant that such a procedure was worthwhile considering the risks (which he described as a 20% chance of necrosis of the nipple following such a procedure) – I would be curious to hear your assessment of this risk (or others) as pertains to a nipple reduction procedure before I make a decision.

A: I am not sure at all what is the origin of the statement by a surgeon of ‘there is a 20% risk of nipple necrosis when nipple reductions are performed with gynecomastia reduction’ for the following reasons:

1) Nipple reduction in a male almost always means nipple amputation, the complete removal of the projecting nipple, thus there is no nipple left to have any necrosis. I can only assume what this doctor is more likely referring to is ‘areolar necrosis’ or difficulty with the nipple reduction site healing. This has not been an issue that I have ever seen.

2) This ‘statistic’ is based on what I do not know since there has never been anything published in the plastic surgery literature in that regard or any other literature since the performance of male nipple reduction in gynecomastia reduction is so rarely done.

3) The relevancy of potential vascular compromise to the nipple-areolar complex is based on what type of gynecomastia reduction is being performed. If an open gynecomastia reduction is performed through an inferior areolar incision, where the nipple-areolar complex is left with a thin layer of tissue underneath it and it depends on vascular inflow from the surrounding dermis (where half has been cut off from the inferior areolar incision). then one would have reason to consider there may be the potential for vascular compromise from the healing nipple reduction site. But this issue becomes moot when the gynecomastia reduction is performed by liposuction without a direct areolar incision.

4) But when in doubt one can always delay the nipple reduction for a week or two after surgery since it can easily be done as an office procedure under local anesthesia. (where the chest is largely numb anyway for awhile)

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana