How to Sleep After Gynocomastia Surgery


Recovery from Gynocomastia surgery can make sleep difficult, at least for the first few weeks following the surgery. This difficulty is due to the recovery and healing time, and the location of the surgery. Some factors that improve sleep following surgery are; adjusting your sleep position to a reclined position, rather than flat on your back, using pillows to support the back, avoiding side or belly sleep positions, and medication.

What is Gynocomastia

Male breasts contain some fatty tissue, connective tissue, and glandular or breast tissue. Sometimes, due to a hormonal imbalance, glandular (breast) tissue can become enlarged. Because of the location of this tissue, this can cause a more feminine appearance of the chest. Several medical diagnoses can cause breast enlargement. Additionally, the reduction in testosterone that occurs with aging can also be a cause.

Gynocomastia can be temporary, and in some cases, when the underlying medical cause is treated, it can go away. But in cases where it is permanent, or painful, and if diet and exercise haven’t helped to reduce the tissue, surgery is an option. (Source)

What is Gynocomastia Surgery

Gynocomastia surgery is the most common cosmetic surgery performed on men in the U.S. It is a fairly straightforward procedure that includes incision, and some combination of liposuction and excision techniques. The excess breast tissue is removed, and in some cases, the areola is also re-positioned. Depending on the cause of the surgery and the patient’s particular needs, it may be a one or two-part procedure.

Sleep difficulties are caused by the incision location, on the front of the chest. Pain and needing to adjust sleeping positions can be disruptive to sleep patterns. (Source)

Sleeping Solutions

The good news is that recovery time is relatively quick for this type of surgery. Sleep disruptions likely won’t last longer than a couple of weeks. Your doctor likely gave you a compression garment to wear during your recovery period.

If you are looking for the best compression vest, I highly recommend using an Underworks Gynecomastia Pre/Post-Surgical Vest (link to Amazon). Be sure to keep this on while sleeping for optimum comfort. Consult your physician regarding how long to wear this garment.

The best sleep position after Gynocomastia surgery is on the back but at a 45-degree angle. While it is not necessary to be completely upright, it is essential to sleep on an incline for the first few nights. Sleep in a recliner, with a foam wedge, or a few extra pillows. Sleeping upright helps to reduce swelling and create the most comfort. I personally recommend using a Cushy Form Bed Wedge Pillow (link to Amazon) to help keep yourself at a 45-degree angle while still remaining comfortable.

Avoid sleeping on the stomach or the side. Side sleeping can potentially cause lopsided swelling. Also, it can put pressure on your sutures, so avoid it altogether for at least the first couple of weeks.

Your doctor likely prescribed pain medication, and this can help aid sleep as well. Be aware only to take what is prescribed and never drink while using pain medication. This type of medication can be habit-forming, so take care to only use it as needed.

Generally speaking, recovery time for this surgery is relatively quick and easy, and most people don’t experience too much trouble with sleep. Taking some precautions and planning, such as getting extra pillows and taking some time off after surgery to recovery, can be very beneficial.

Recovery Help 

Recovery after surgery is a crucial time, and although your surgeon has control over the surgery itself, it is mainly you that is in control of the recovery process. Making sure to follow the correct guidelines helps to make your recovery smooth and reduce the risk of added procedures and infection.

A compression vest, as mentioned above, is an integral part of your recovery process. It aids in the reduction of swelling, provides support, and helps the skin to retract properly. Wear the vest as much as possible for the four weeks following surgery.

Exercise is an important part of good health, but it is not advisable to exercise at all for one-week post-op. Take this time instead to rest and recharge. Watch your favorite shows, or read some good books. Light walks are okay, but be sure not to overdo it.

After a week, lightweight exercise can be added. Cardiovascular activity can be increased, but it’s not time to start running just yet. Listen to your body, and be sure to stop if anything is painful. Keep the compression vest on during exercise. By the end of the month, you can get back to your regular exercise regimen, adding in weights and more vigorous exercises.

After the third week of recovery, you can begin to introduce tissue massage to the chest. Using your hands or a roller, massage the tissue at least once a day, and up to a few times a day. Massage helps reduce scar tissue, and to guide the skin to heal more smoothly.

Correcting posture after surgery is also an essential part of recovery. Due to the nature of the problem, pre-op patients may have felt embarrassed by their chest and developed poor posture as a result. Back strengthening exercises can help to correct this, as well as just becoming consciously aware of it. After a few weeks of recovery, a few yoga or Pilates classes can go a long way towards correcting posture. (Source)

Caveats 

Your surgeon is the foremost expert on what you need, and you should default to their advice at all times. Consult your doctor if you are curious about any of the tips discussed in this article, especially if they are conflicting with the advice given by your doctor.

Conclusion

Within a few weeks, you will feel better than before. This surgery is common and generally without complication. Patients report an increase in confidence and self-esteem. You may experience sleep issues for a couple of weeks after surgery, but they are usually mild and corrected with proper sleep positions and usage of sleep aids.

Dr. Amanda OBryan

Dr. O'Bryan is a psychologist who is fascinated by the impact that sleep plays in our lives. Much of her work utilizes mindfulness and meditation to help her clients have the best night of sleep possible.

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