Gynaecomastia surgery in the Netherlands: what, why, who, where…

J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2014 May;67(5):702-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2014.01.040. Epub 2014 Feb 4.


Gynaecomastia, breast enlargement in men, is common in all age groups. It is operated on by plastic surgeons, general surgeons and paediatric surgeons. It is therefore possible that there is a difference in the populations treated, the indications for surgery and the management used by the different practitioners. We performed a survey in order to assess the approach to treatment of gynaecomastia by the different disciplines. An electronic survey questionnaire was sent to members of the Dutch societies of surgery, paediatric surgery and plastic surgery. We received 105 responses from plastic surgeons, 95 from general surgeons and 15 from paediatric surgeons, representing respective response rates of 38.7%, 23.8% and 42.8%. Plastic surgeons operated on gynaecomastia most frequently. The diagnostic criteria and workup were similar for all disciplines, although general surgeons used more imaging. There was a difference in the side operated on. General surgeons and paediatric surgeons operated mainly on unilateral cases (74% and 52%), while plastic surgeons operated mainly on bilateral cases (85%). Pharmaceutical treatment with Tamoxifen was reported only by general surgeons (13%). All disciplines used mainly the periareolar incision. Plastic surgeons reported more often the use of other surgical approaches as well as adjunctive liposuction and they did not always submit tissue for pathological examination. Perioperative antibiotics, drains and pressure garments were not always used. All disciplines agreed that the most common complication was bleeding, followed by seroma, infection, insufficient results, inverted nipple and nipple necrosis. This survey highlights some differences in the practice of gynaecomastia surgery. The findings appear to point to the fact that the indications are different, being more aesthetic in the case of plastic surgeons. The results of this survey are important in establishing the standard of care and may be helpful for setting guidelines.

Keywords: Complications; Diagnosis; Guidelines; Gynaecomastia; Imaging; Surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drainage
  • Estrogen Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • General Surgery
  • Gynecomastia / diagnosis
  • Gynecomastia / drug therapy
  • Gynecomastia / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mammaplasty / adverse effects
  • Mammaplasty / methods*
  • Netherlands
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Surgery, Plastic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Estrogen Antagonists
  • Tamoxifen