Real Experience – Male Abdominoplasty And Male Chest Reduction Surgery
I previously talked about cosmetic surgery for men in general terms – things to think about if you’re considering surgery and how to get the advice and information you might need.
Now I want to talk more about my own real experience of having an abdominoplasty and male breast reduction (gynecomastia) procedure. I had my procedure in March 2022 and at the time of writing, I am 12 weeks post-op so still going through the recovery process.
Thinking About Getting Loose Skin Removed After Weight Loss
I thought about getting the loose skin removed from my body since around 2010 or 2011.
It was around then that I got to my target weight range and was at a point where I knew the loose skin I had could only be removed through surgery. It wasn’t going to go away naturally.
I didn’t have a great body image when I was at my heaviest or when losing weight.
It did improve after I lost weight. I was feeling more confident, my clothes fit better and the number of compliments I got about losing weight did also boost my ego.
But I was still very self-conscious about my skin.
I always wore baggy clothes. Swimming was a no-go. Public changing rooms – absolutely not.
Relationships or even the idea of relationships were non-starters. I wasn’t comfortable with how I looked to feel comfortable even with the idea of getting intimate with someone.
It affected me mentally and physically across a lot of areas of my life as a result.
So I knew I wanted this surgery done but the idea of getting done was a pipe dream.
The cost was an issue. Not being able to move or exercise properly for several weeks made me hesitant. Trying to get enough time off around work would be tricky.
And of course, just the general fear and anxiety around surgery played a part too.
So I wanted it done but it didn’t seem like anything that would happen for me.
Making My Abdominoplasty And Chest Reduction A Reality
By early 2020, I was in a decent-paying and stable job that was 100% desk-based and 100% remote so I started considering it seriously again.
A certain pandemic of course then came along and there was zero chance of anything happening for a long while at least.
Between general Covid upheaval and lockdowns, life did calm down quite a bit for me.
I ended up moving into another remote role with better pay and more flexibility. So that was awesome. I walked a lot more. But with gyms opening and closing with lockdowns, I wasn’t worried about a long-ish layoff.
I also managed to get down to the lowest weight I had ever been in my adult life during this time.
And because I wasn’t going out or spending my money on pretty much anything, I was saving quite nicely.
So as lockdowns eased, I started to seriously think about this surgery again.
One day I got to the point where I figured that I don’t even know what I’m waiting for anymore and started enquiring about with local private hospitals about this process.
Booking Cosmetic Surgery Consultations
Eventually, I ended up deciding to book my procedure with Nuffield Health. They run private hospitals and gyms and I used to be a trainer at one of their gyms so I had more familiarity with them.
But let me talk you through the steps I took.
Getting Cosmetic Surgery Privately
I enquired with some local private hospitals about abdominoplasty and chest reduction. They provided me with a list of the surgeons they work with who perform those procedures.
From there it is up to me to book consultations with the surgeons, decide who I want to go with and go from there.
If you are in the UK, I don’t know if you would be able to get something like this done through the NHS or covered by health insurance.
And all of the steps I took were to do this privately.
Doing Your Homework On Surgeons
I started doing my research on the consultants and surgeons by looking at:
- Results portfolios
- Before and after photos
- Social media
- Reviews on Google and Facebook
- Feedback and reviews on RealSelf
- And also just Googling their names.
There was 1 that really stood out to me. He had glowing testimonials and reviews going back years. He was very open and transparent with his work on his social media posts. And he seemed very calming and reassuring.
I touched on this before but with cosmetic surgery, overseas is an often cheaper option. I definitely didn’t want to go with this option as logistics around preparation, follow-ups, and risk of complication were too much for me to want to take on.
They would definitely outdo any potential cost-saving in my mind.
Getting Quotes For Abdominoplasty Or Gynaecomastia
When you inquire and have your initial consultations, a surgeon will need to examine you and make an assessment of what will be involved before providing specific quotes or finance options.
And every surgeon and hospital will have a different fee structure for different procedures, and sometimes for the same procedures.
The surgeon I went with for example works at 2 hospitals and I was given quotes for both of them. The same surgeon and the same procedure but at different hospitals resulted in a £3,000 difference in the quotes I received. It was 100% down to the hospital’s specific fees in that case.
Going For My Initial Consultations
I had done my homework and picked who I wanted to go with so next was booking in my initial consultation.
This was in September 2021 and I figured if I get a consultation in the next couple of weeks I can have the procedure in November or December and get it done and over with quickly.
Not. A. Chance.
It was probably my naivety here.
But calling in September 2021 to book my consultation, the first available date I was offered was the middle of January 2022. And you would need 2 consultations before they would book you in for a procedure.
Once I got over my initial shock and speechlessness and the wait, I grabbed that date. And I booked in my second consultation on the same call, for the end of January 2022.
This meant I had 4 months of waiting, which had some pros and cons.
On the plus side, I had a lot of time to do as much research and homework as I wanted or needed to so I would go into these consultations extremely well informed.
However, knowing I was going to have a lengthy 2-3 month layoff from being able to move or exercise properly also meant that I lost motivation with fitness because I felt I was in limbo. Also, I was a bit obsessive with dieting because I wanted to be as lean as possible for these procedures.
Telling People About Your Cosmetic Surgery
I didn’t tell friends or colleagues about this surgery or my plans for it. In fact at the time of writing, a lot of them still don’t know.
I wasn’t ready to talk about it with other people.
I did of course tell my family – it’s kind of hard not to and I had no plans to hide it from them anyway. Plus you do need support in recovering.
They weren’t keen on me getting it and didn’t really understand my reasoning (because I am fine as I am in their books – the kind of response you would expect from a caring family). But they were never unsupportive and were never going to stop me or try to talk me out of it.
Going For Cosmetic Surgery Consultations
I passed 4 months of limbo focused on being as well-informed as I could be.
But when I went in for my first consultation, I was genuinely nervous. After a decade of wanting this and always thinking it was out of reach, things started to feel very real.
And that was thrilling but also terrifying.
But my surgeon was very calm, very clear and very reassuring. In person, he was exactly the same as he was in the videos I saw of him online.
I had done my homework so the general information we talked about for these procedures was stuff that I already knew.
It was great when he did examine me properly and talked about potential results, scar placement, healing, recovery, and expectations.
When I first enquired I did also ask about my glutes and thighs but he recommended not operating on those – given what they had been through, and how much distress they weren’t causing me, it didn’t make sense to operate on them too.
It was nice to know he wasn’t just saying yes to everything or just after my money.
He genuinely seemed to have my best interests at heart. He wasn’t like, yeah, let’s do everything. Give me your money and I’ll have you looking perfect. He was more responsible, more ethical and just, you know, more realistic.
Overall the consultation went well. It was everything I hoped. Between the first and second consultations, I was given quite a lot of reading to go through.
Before my second consultation, the clinic emailed me the quotes for the procedures at the 2 hospitals my surgeon worked at. I knew which I wanted to go with so it was an easy decision at this point.
They also sent me the finance options in terms of upfront payments and monthly instalments.
I won’t tell you the specific amount I paid. It’s not fair to you or to surgeons to set you up to go into something like this with preconceived ideas and I don’t want to set you up for deal-hunting either.
You can find ballpark quote ranges online, and most hospitals or clinics will also be able to offer you a quote range as well when you enquire.
But you won’t receive an accurate quote until a surgeon has assessed you after speaking to you.
As it turns out, the quote I received and chose fell at the lower end of the range I had estimated in my head, so I had over-budgeted, which made the decision even easier for me.
I had made up my mind by the time I went in for my second consultation, so it was a matter of clearing any lingering doubts and addressing any additional questions.
Booking My Cosmetic Surgery
At no point in either of my consultations was there a sales pitch or any attempt to pressure me to buy. At the end of the second consultation, I was basically told “You have the information you need. If you’d like to go ahead, give us a call on this number and we’ll talk you through dates and sort out the payment from there.”
So it 100% needed to be driven by me.
I called pretty much the next day and confirmed I would like to go ahead. They took a deposit and offered me 2 dates – the end of March 2022 or the end of May 2022.
I had zero hesitation in going for the first possible date. It had already been 5 months since I first enquired by this point.
And I was lucky to get that date as well as it was only available because someone else had cancelled.
So I booked the date, paid my deposit and I sorted out the finances.
Then there was a bit of a lull and nothing happened until the date drew nearer.
Preparing For Abdominoplasty And Gynaecomastia Surgery
Consultation With Nurse
Around 4 weeks before my surgery I had an appointment with a nurse at the surgeon’s clinic, so this was around the end of February 2022.
This was to run through things around preparing for surgery and coping with recovery.
We talked about the support garment I would need to wear, looking after wounds and dressing, when I would be able to move, how I would feel, how to manage pain and what to expect around pain and discomfort. We also talked about lymphatic draining massages to help reduce post-operative swelling.
And of course, we talked about getting ready for the surgery itself. How it might feel, what to do the day before and managing my own nerves.
General Health Screening
One week before the procedure I had a general health assessment at the hospital my surgery would be taking place. It covered all of those sorts of general health, medical, and biological things you’d expect – height, weight, medical conditions, blood pressure, blood samples, urine sample and a few other questions.
It was basically a pre-screening for any potential risks going into the procedure.
And that was it.
Pre-Op Covid Requirements
The hospital still had stringent Covid requirements around this time. I needed to provide a negative PCR swab 72 hours before my operation and then self-isolate from then until the day of my procedure.
I self-isolated 10 days before doing my PCR (apart from going for my pre-screening) just to be extra careful.
But it was stressing me out thinking that this could derail months of planning and preparation as a positive PCR would mean rebooking – which might be several weeks or months away.
I stressed a lot about making sure that test came back negative.
By the time it was confirmed, I was too tired from the stress of waiting for the PCR to even be bothered getting stressed about the surgery.
For this procedure, you can’t eat or drink anything pretty much, from the night before (nil by mouth) so I had a hearty meal and that was it.
Going In For Abdominoplasty And Chest Reduction
The Covid rules in place at the time at the hospital meant I wasn’t allowed visitors or anyone with me on the day, so my family dropped me off at 7 AM.
I changed and then went through some things with the nurse.
The surgeon came in, talked through everything again, and drew all over me to set some rough estimates of where he would be slicing into me. Then, before I knew it, the staff walked me down to the operating theatre.
The anaesthetist inserted a needle into my arm, placed an oxygen mask on me, and I must have lost consciousness a few seconds later.
The next thing I knew I was back in my room, all bandaged up with the procedure completed.
Waking Up After Cosmetic Surgery
The anaesthetic does keep you dopey and groggy for a while so I don’t remember a lot of the rest of that day after I woke up.
- I remember the surgeon telling me things went well.
- I remember being brought and eating dinner.
- I remember asking someone why one of my thighs was shaved (something about a contact point for a metallic plate)
- I remember video-calling my family
- And I remember taking a couple of selfies for no apparent reason.
I wasn’t in pain – I was still dosed up on painkillers of course. But trying to adjust the position I was in was causing some discomfort.
I slept well that night, with just the night nurse coming in to check on me a couple of times and giving me a few more painkillers to take.
The Day After Abdominoplasty
The next day I was still groggy but a bit more alert.
The nurse came to check on me and help me get out of bed and go to the toilet.
There was nothing stopping me beforehand from doing that myself but I was still feeling uncertain and uneasy about moving myself or being able to get up or lie back down. So I didn’t want to risk anything.
The surgeon did also come to check in with me and it was nice that I was alert enough to actually be able to speak to him and see what he was saying.
I had given consent for him to film some of the procedure so I got to watch that back, which was a slightly surreal experience if you’ve never seen a video of your body lying there with giant incisions across your torso (which I kind of hope you haven’t!).
He also helped me stand in front of the mirror and see my scars and the work he did. Overall I did not cope well.
The abdomen I was fine with – that was all taped over.
The main internal stitching on the chest was also fine. I didn’t find it painful. It was also taped over.
The second row of external stitches on the chest, called hemostatic stitching, to help with where the scars should settle – that made me feel uneasy. It’s awkward looking at yourself with these wires threading through your chest and ribs!
And the nipples made me feel weird. The doctors had to graft them in place. The cotton padding covered them, but I could still see the stitching on the outside, which made me feel awkward. It actually took me nearly a month to become comfortable with them.
The surgeon talked me through what the next few days and weeks would look like and I was booked to see him again a few weeks later.
There were no other issues or concerns so the rest of my time that day was just going over the recovery and care process with the nurse, getting my stuff all packed up again and getting ready for my family to pick me up.
Experience Of Recovery From Abdominoplasty And Male Breast Reduction
I will be covering (or will have covered) this in a lot more detail on Youtube.
But the main headline points were:
- Wearing a support garment day and night for 6 to 8 weeks to help the wounds settle and reduce swelling.
- Take painkillers – both ibuprofen and paracetamol – 2 or 3 times a day for the next 72 hours.
- Taking laxatives to help with digestion – and I definitely needed this.
- Keeping the wounds completely dry for 72 hours, so no bath or shower during this time, which I hated.
- The tapes over the wounds need to stay mostly dry for the next few weeks too. This meant showering in a very low-power shower with my back to the shower head and keeping my torso as dry as possible. I ended up also using full-body anti-bacterial wipes.
- The tapes also needed to be fully dry before putting my support garment on so I would need to go over them with a hairdryer before getting dressed.
- No intense exercise for at least 6 weeks, but listen to your body and be careful.
- No driving until you can move your head freely and comfortably perform an emergency stop procedure.
Out of everything, the one thing I found hardest was sleeping.
I just had to get used to sleeping on my back very quickly. I am used to sleeping on my stomach and have been for my whole life.
Plus because I couldn’t let the wounds stretch too much and how much swelling there was, I couldn’t lie flat. So I needed my torso elevated – and I used a wedge pillow for that – and also my legs raised on another couple of pillows.
It wasn’t just the sleeping position itself but also not being able to easily adjust my sleeping position which made it tricky.
And that was basically the gist of it.
Things have been smooth. The swelling is still taking time to go down but that is normal and there have been no other issues or complications up until now.
Follow-Up Appointments For Cosmetic Surgery
My first follow-up appointment was 48 hours after my surgery to remove that second row of stitches on my chest – the ones that freaked me out entirely.
Then after that, I had a 1-week follow-up with a nurse to change the tapes and check my wounds. And then that was repeated at the 2-week post-op mark as well.
In both of those, the nurses said things were looking great and healing was going well.
After 4 weeks was my first time seeing my surgeon again since leaving the hospital. He was very happy with my progress and I didn’t need to wear the tapes anymore so that was a huge relief.
Because of how things were going he said he didn’t need to see me again for another few months so I actually haven’t had another follow-up appointment yet at the time of writing. I am due for one in August 2022 now.
Having said that he did say that if I need anything before then I could call the clinic and book something at any time.
The Path To Full Recovery From Abdominoplasty
Recovery has been pretty smooth and a bit uneventful, which is a good thing.
There have been no complications or issues with the wounds. Things have just been getting better and better each day. I don’t think I ever really felt like I was going backwards.
I was back up to 12,000 steps a day on my Fitbit while holding on to a treadmill after around 10 days, and doing the same outdoors after around 3 weeks.
Reaching my arms overhead was difficult for a while because of the tightness of the stitches and the restrictions from my swelling. I am 12 weeks post-op now and it was only relatively recently that I could do this without feeling any kind of restriction or resistance.
The swelling was awful at first but has been getting better. It is still there though so I do need to be patient.
The abdominal wounds never really hurt or were painful. I just got occasional sudden bouts of pins and needles as the nerve endings reactivated, as that area was numb for quite a while.
The chest area was ok too.
Under the arms, which is where my scars reached to was the worst. That is a high friction area at the best of times and with the added scars and stitches, that felt very prickly and took around 6-7 weeks for that feeling to go away.
The most painful stitches were the hemostatic ones that came out after 48 hours. Every time I tried to breathe in it felt like something was biting me. The relief when those stitches came out was immense.
Coughing, sneezing, and laughing all took time to be able to do pain-free. It took 10 days to be able to laugh without it hurting. It took about 2 weeks for the coughs, but that did depend on the intensity. Sneezing took around a month.
So don’t find things funny and don’t get a cold or the flu or covid when recovering from surgery!
In terms of exercise, I got back to longer outdoor walks after around 3 weeks.
I got back to lifting light weights in the gym at around 8 weeks. Progress has been steady since then.
I had 8 weeks of lymphatic drainage massages, which also helped a lot with the swelling and I will be due for another appointment soon.
Hydration, nutrition, fitness and overall health all feel like they’re coming together nicely now. I just need to be patient to see out the rest of this recovery time.
It has been mentally and physically challenging because you need to adapt every single aspect of your everyday life, but aside from that, it has been helpfully uneventful.
Impact Of Abdominoplasty And Gynaecomastia Surgery
The impact on me of having these surgeries done has been dramatic.
I feel so much more confident with my body and in my skin. I love how my body shape has changed and the way clothes fit me.
I’m nowhere near as ashamed or embarrassed about my body.
I haven’t been swimming since I was 5 or 6 but I might go again when the scars have healed.
Diving was something I dreaded because the thought of putting on a tight-fitting wetsuit scared me. But that is now on my bucket list too.
I talked about avoiding relationships and I am now trying to put myself in a position to stop being single.
So we’ll see how that goes.
And the confidence boost has transferred to other things as well. I never had a problem with my arms or shoulders but I still never really felt comfortable in a tank top. Tank tops are a regular thing for me now.
I want to mark my transformation with something special so a couple of phot shoots might happen.
And I also want to celebrate closing the book on my lifelong need to keep losing weight. I think I have completed that now.
Yes, it is vain and self-indulgent but I don’t care. It’s for me and it’s what I want to do.
Should You Get A Male Abdominoplasty Or Male Breast Reduction?
I can only comment on my own experience, which has been incredibly positive. And things have been getting better and better each day for me.
I did my planning, I did my research, I did my homework, and I was responsible with my finances.
I had the privilege of being able to afford the procedure and having a supportive family who would aid in my recovery.
And I made sure I was doing it for the right reasons for me.
There are of course horror stories out there and it is important you do your homework. Also, think with a cool head (don’t get emotional) and give each part of this the consideration it warrants.
I talk about a lot of the advice on looking for a surgeon and considering surgery here.
If you have any questions about my experience, please do feel free to reach out here. And if it is something you are planning on having done, I hope your experience is as positive as mine.