Medical Policy

Subject: Mastectomy for Gynecomastia
Document #: SURG.00085 Current Effective Date:    09/27/2017
Status: Reviewed Last Review Date:    08/03/2017


This document addresses mastectomy performed for the treatment of gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is the unilateral or bilateral enlargement of male breast tissue attributed mainly to proliferation of ductular elements and not merely excessive breast tissue. Mastectomy for gynecomastia is a surgical procedure performed to remove glandular breast tissue from a male with enlarged breasts.

Note: Please see the following related document(s) for additional information:

Reconstructive: In this document, procedures are considered reconstructive when intended to address a significant variation from normal related to accidental injury, disease, trauma, treatment of a disease or congenital defect.

Note: Not all benefit contracts include benefits for reconstructive services as defined by this document. Benefit language supersedes this document.

Position Statement

Medically Necessary:

Mastectomy (including reconstruction if necessary) for gynecomastia in males over the age of 18, or 18 months after the end of puberty, whichever is younger, is considered medically necessary when the following criteria are met:

  1. The tissue to be removed is glandular breast tissue and not the result of obesity, adolescence, or reversible effects of a drug treatment which can be discontinued (this would include drug-induced gynecomastia remaining unresolved 6 months after cessation of the causative drug therapy); and
  2. Appropriate diagnostic evaluation has been done for possible underlying etiology; and
  3. The individual has pain or tenderness directly related to the breast tissue (documented in the medical record) which has a clinically significant impact upon activities of daily living and has been refractory to a trial of analgesics or anti-inflammatory agents (for a reasonable time period adequate to assess therapeutic effects); and
  4. Pre-operative photographs are provided.

Mastectomy for gynecomastia is considered medically necessary, regardless of age, when there is legitimate concern that a breast mass may represent breast carcinoma. Mammography may be of value to determine the need for surgery in some instances. 


Mastectomy (including reconstruction if necessary) for gynecomastia in males over the age of 18, or 18 months after the end of puberty, whichever is younger, is considered reconstructive if it does not meet the medical necessary criteria above and is for drug-induced gynecomastia that does not resolve by 6 months after the cessation of drug therapy. Examples of some agents associated with the occurrence of gynecomastia are listed in the Rationale section of this document (not an all-inclusive list).         

Not Medically Necessary:

Mastectomy for gynecomastia is considered not medically necessary when the above criteria are not met.

Investigational and Not Medically Necessary:

The use of liposuction to perform mastectomy for gynecomastia is considered investigational and not medically necessary.


Gynecomastia typically presents during adolescence; however, it may also occur in infancy and later in adult life. The enlargement of male breast tissue may be unilateral or bilateral, is usually benign and often is due to hormonal imbalance. Adolescent gynecomastia is considered a normal variation of puberty that rarely persists and typically spontaneously regresses within 18 to 24 months. If adolescents have surgical therapy before completion or at near completion of their puberty, the hormonal imbalance that caused the gynecomastia may cause recurrence (Cakan, 2007). Especially in children and youths, most cases of gynecomastia have no absolute indication for therapeutic intervention, as they are temporary and show a high number of spontaneous remissions (Fischer, 2014).

The use of mastectomy for gynecomastia in males under the age of 18 or in those who are not yet at least 18 months after the end of puberty (unless there is legitimate concern that a breast mass may represent breast carcinoma) is not considered an acceptable alternative to nonsurgical forms of treatment. A standard system used to describe the normal development of puberty and to determine if an adolescent is at or near completion of puberty is the Sexual Maturity Rating (SMR, Tanner Stage). The late stage of male puberty (Tanner stage 5) is evidenced by adult genitalia and adult type pubic hair. Completion of the Tanner stage 5 milestones typically signifies the end of puberty. Skeletal and muscle growth are also late events in male puberty.

A retrospective review by Rosen and colleagues (2010) evaluated a consecutive series of adolescents with gynecomastia and compared surgical outcomes and demographics of obese and overweight to normal weighted subjects. A single institution database queried for male "breast" specimens from 1997-2008 identified 69 cases. Data extracted included BMI criteria which demonstrated that 51% were obese, 16% overweight and 33% normal-weighted. Major complications (surgical hematoma requiring operative evacuation) occurred in 4 subjects (5.8%), and minor complications in 19 (27.5%). A total of 16 subjects required revision surgery. Potential etiologies other than obesity were found in 27%. Obese subjects required more extensive operations. Obese adolescents suffered greater psychological impact preoperatively but had no difference in satisfaction or complication rates, as compared to subjects of normal weights. The authors concluded that given their study results, obesity should not be used as an absolute contraindication to gynecomastia surgery. Study limitations included retrospective design of the study and a limited sample size.

Zavin and colleagues (2017) performed a large retrospective analysis comparing outcomes post gynecomastia (primarily cosmetic and elective) procedures in pediatric and adult populations. Data were extracted from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program adult and pediatric databases for 1583 adult and 204 pediatric males. The adult population was considered overweight with a cohort BMI of 28.2 and BMI was not calculated for the pediatric population. However, a low proportion of preoperative comorbidities revealed a healthy population overall with rates of 4.9% in children and 6.4% in adults. Procedures in both groups were performed mostly on an outpatient basis. Low surgical and medical complication rates were observed within a 30-day postoperative periods for both groups with rates of 3.9% in children and 1.9% in adults. Children and adolescents required double mean operative times compared to adults (11.3 vs 56.7 minutes). Study limitations reported by the authors included results may not be representative of every practice setting; an inability to differentiate between mastectomies, liposuction procedures or a combination of both; and short follow-up period of only 30 days.

A smaller retrospective study by Choi and colleagues (2017) reported short-term surgical outcomes of gynecomastia for 71 adolescents at a single Korean facility. Bilateral subcutaneous mastectomy with liposuction was performed for adolescents with a history of gynecomastia for over 3 years with psychological distress as a result. A total of 14 subjects (19.7%) experienced complications and 3 cases (4.2%) required revision. In all, 51 subjects (71.8%) were classified as having a glandular breast component. A majority of cases (70 subjects, 98.6%) self-reported satisfaction with the results. Study limitations reported by the authors included its retrospective nature and a short follow-up period of 6 months (with annual telephone interviews, thereafter).

Medical conditions that can cause gynecomastia include chronic liver disease, Klinefelter's syndrome (47XXY), adrenal tumors, pituitary tumors, testicular tumors, end stage renal disease/dialysis, malnutrition and endocrine disorders (such as hyperthyroidism). Gynecomastia may also result as a side effect from certain drugs including, but not limited to: estrogens, androgens, spironolactone, digitalis preparations, flutamide, ketoconazole, cimetidine, anabolic steroids, alcohol, amphetamines, and marijuana. When identified, treating the underlying condition, such as removal of a tumor, or eliminating drug exposure, will often resolve the gynecomastia. Accordingly, treatment of the identified underlying conditions should be attempted prior to any surgical approach to gynecomastia. There can be psychosocial effects related to gynecomastia and psychotherapy may be recommended. Individuals with gynecomastia should be provided with reassurance about the self-limited nature of the condition, encouragement to participate in social and physical activities, and counseling on lifestyle modifications (Ladizinski, 2014).

Gynecomastia, being a proliferative condition of the male breast, can occasionally lead to concern about the development of carcinomatous changes in the breast. In some cases, biopsy results do not lead to a clear distinction between non-cancerous and cancerous breast tissue. In such cases, mastectomy is indicated regardless of age to properly address those concerns.

Surgical Techniques

A variety of surgical techniques have been described as being used to perform mastectomy for gynecomastia, including direct excision, liposuction or a combination of both.

Lanitis and colleagues (2008) assessed gynecomastia surgical outcomes at a single institution between 1998 and 2007. A total of 748 males were referred to the center for breast symptoms of which 65 subjects (102 breasts) with a median age of 26 years underwent surgery for gynecomastia. A total of 82 breasts were treated with mastectomies and 22 with skin reduction. The procedures carried out were subcutaneous mastectomy or breast disk excision, with or without skin reduction. Major post-surgical complications occurred in 12 breasts and consisted of hematomas requiring evacuation, wound infection, partial nipple necrosis, dehiscence, and wound break down. The authors concluded that most males with gynecomastia can be managed conservatively and after excluding malignancy, conservative treatment could include counseling for reassurance, optimization of an individual's weight and medications.

Petty and colleagues (2010) analyzed outcomes of ultrasound-assisted liposuction with an arthroscopic shaver (arthroscopic mastectomy) to remove breast tissue and compared it with other surgical techniques for the management of gynecomastia. A retrospective study was performed on a total of 227 subjects divided into 4 groups: group 1 consisted of open incision only (n=45); group 2, open incision and liposuction (n=56), group 3 liposuction only (n=50); and group 4, liposuction and arthroscopic shaver (n=76). The authors used photographs and medical records to compare surgical results and determine complications. Complications using the liposuction plus arthroscopic shaver technique noted included hematoma (n=1), scar revision (n=1), seroma (n=2), and skin buttonhole from the arthroscopic shaver (n=1). There was no difference between groups in the overall incidence of complications or the need for reoperation. Surgical results were scored on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) based on photographs when available and on chart review if photographs were absent. Group 4 (liposuction plus arthroscopic shaver) was reported to have the overall highest mean score based on appearance and symmetry, presence of residual tissue, nipple contour, and prominent scarring. The authors noted that liposuction alone is unable to remove glandular/fibrous breast tissue seen in many cases of gynecomastia and that the arthroscopic shaver allows for resection of fibrous remnant tissue after liposuction. Limitations included the retrospective nature of the study in which unblinded examiners based their determinations on photographs and charts. Also, there were small sample sizes for each type of technique. Larger, high quality studies are needed to determine the safety and efficacy of ultrasound-assisted liposuction with an arthroscopic shaver.

Qutob and colleagues (2010) investigated the use of a vacuum-assisted biopsy device (VABD) and liposuction for surgical correction of gynecomastia. A total of 36 males with gynecomastia were recruited (22 bilateral, 14 unilateral) with an average age of 33.3 years (range, 16-88 years). All underwent VABD excision and liposuction. There were no conversions to an open procedure. Of the 36 participants, 34 reported excellent satisfaction and 2 had residual gynecomastia requiring another procedure. Study limitations included a small sample size and lack of randomization. The authors concluded that a randomized, controlled trial comparing the minimally invasive approach to an open technique could help establish the best surgical options for this condition.

Song and colleagues (2014) analyzed a Chinese experience of 402 males (436 breasts) treated with mastectomy and 331 males (386 breasts) treated with liposuction techniques for gynecomastia. Age range was 15 to 82 years (mean age, 29.1 years). The primary complaint was breast enlargement associated with pain with or without a palpable lump. A total of 330 (82%) complained of breast lump and lump with pain in the mastectomy group, and 204 (61%) complained of breast enlargement and enlargement with pain in the liposuction group (P<0.05). There was 1 case of Klinefelter's syndrome, and another of gynecomastia resulting from hormonal therapy for prostate cancer. All excision specimens were performed for routine histological analysis which showed pathologic diagnosis in the mastectomy cases (100%). Of those undergoing liposuction, 159 (41%) had acquired pathologic diagnosis through fine needle aspiration or core biopsy. Reoperation rates in the mastectomy and liposuction groups were 1.4% and 0.5%, respectively. Liposuction was performed if breast enlargement had been present for generally more than 12 months. However, true glandular hypertrophy required a surgical glandular tissue excision and subsequent histological examination. The authors concluded that surgical treatment of gynecomastia requires an individual approach, "depending on symptoms (lump or enlargement) and requirements of patients."


The published medical literature indicates that gynecomastia is generally due to the stimulated growth of glandular breast tissue and does not significantly affect the disposition of fatty tissue. Therefore, mastectomy for gynecomastia should focus on the removal of glandular tissue underlying the condition. The use of liposuction as a method of mastectomy for gynecomastia has not been sufficiently proven to remove glandular tissue and is not considered an acceptable alternative to standard surgical approaches.


Gynecomastia results from the growth of glandular breast tissue in males. This condition should not be confused with pseudogynecomastia, which is an enlargement of the male breast due to excess fat deposition. Gynecomastia is a transient phenomenon in up to 60 to 70% of pubescent boys and is considered a normal part of male adolescence. About 30 to 40% of adult men have been found to have gynecomastia. Gynecomastia that is unilateral in post-adolescent age groups or that has a rapid onset is frequently associated with an underlying pathology. Careful clinical evaluation is warranted to rule out possible pathological etiologies (for example, testicular cancer or hyperthyroidism), prior to any surgical intervention. In such cases, when the cause of the gynecomastia is determined and addressed appropriately, spontaneous resolution of the gynecomastia usually occurs over a short period of time.


Gynecomastia: An excessive development of the male mammary glands, resulting in enlargement of the male breast, due mainly to ductal proliferation with periductal edema. Mild gynecomastia may occur in normal adolescence.

Mastectomy: The surgical removal of a breast.

Pseudogynecomastia: Enlargement of the male breast due to excess fat deposition.

Sexual Maturity Rating (SMR, Tanner Stage): A commonly used measurement of sexual maturity in children, based upon the work of Tanner et al. (1962); SMR is based upon clinical findings from physical examination, as detailed below:

Classification of Sex Maturity States in Boys*

1 None Preadolescent Preadolescent
2 Scanty, long, slightly pigmented Minimal change/enlargement Enlarged scrotum, pink, texture altered
3 Darker, starting to curl, small amount Lengthens Larger
4 Resembles adult type, but less quantity; coarse, curly Larger; glans and breadth increase in size Larger, scrotum dark
5 Adult distribution, spread to medial surface of thighs Adult size Adult size

*From Tanner JM: Growth at Adolescence, 2nd ed. Oxford, England, Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1962. SMR, sexual maturity rating, and Marcell AV. Chapter 12- Adolescence. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanson BF, Editors. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th Ed. St. Louis, MO: WB. Saunders, Inc. 2007.


The following codes for treatments and procedures applicable to this document are included below for informational purposes. Inclusion or exclusion of a procedure, diagnosis or device code(s) does not constitute or imply member coverage or provider reimbursement policy. Please refer to the member's contract benefits in effect at the time of service to determine coverage or non-coverage of these services as it applies to an individual member.

When services are Medically Necessary:

19300 Mastectomy for gynecomastia
ICD-10 Procedure  
0HBV0ZZ Excision of bilateral breast, open approach [when specified as gynecomastia surgery]
0HTT0ZZ-0HTV0ZZ Resection of breast, open approach [right, left or bilateral; includes codes 0HTT0ZZ, 0HTU0ZZ, 0HTV0ZZ]
ICD-10 Diagnosis  
C50.021-C50.029 Malignant neoplasm of nipple and areola, male
C50.121-C50.129 Malignant neoplasm of central portion of breast, male
C50.221-C50.229 Malignant neoplasm of upper-inner quadrant of breast, male
C50.321-C50.329 Malignant neoplasm of lower-inner quadrant of breast, male
C50.421-C50.429 Malignant neoplasm of upper-outer quadrant of breast, male
C50.521-C50.529 Malignant neoplasm of lower-outer quadrant of breast, male
C50.621-C50.629 Malignant neoplasm of axillary tail of breast, male
C50.821-C50.829 Malignant neoplasm of overlapping sites of breast, male
C50.921-C50.929 Malignant neoplasm of breast of unspecified site, male
C79.81 Secondary malignant neoplasm of breast
D05.00-D05.092 Carcinoma in situ of breast
D49.3 Neoplasm of unspecified behavior of breast
N63.0-N63.42 Unspecified lump in breast

When Services may be Medically Necessary or Reconstructive when criteria are met:
For the procedure codes listed above for the following diagnoses when medically necessary or reconstructive criteria are met.

ICD-10 Diagnosis  
E05.00-E05.91 Thyrotoxicosis (hyperthyroidism)
E29.1 Testicular hypofunction
E34.50-E34.52 Androgen insensitivity syndrome
N62 Hypertrophy of breast (gynecomastia)
Q98.0-Q98.4 Klinefelter's syndrome
Z79.51-Z79.52 Long-term (current) use of steroids
Z79.818 Long term (current) use of other agents affecting estrogen receptors and estrogen levels

When services are Not Medically Necessary:
For the procedure codes listed above when medically necessary or reconstructive criteria are not met; or when the code describes a procedure indicated in the Position Statement section as not medically necessary.

When services are Investigational and Not Medically Necessary:

15877 Suction assisted lipectomy; trunk [when specified as gynecomastia surgery]
ICD-10 Procedure  
0J063ZZ Alteration of chest subcutaneous tissue and fascia, percutaneous approach
0JD63ZZ Extraction of chest subcutaneous tissue and fascia, percutaneous approach
ICD-10 Diagnosis  
N62 Hypertrophy of breast (gynecomastia)

Peer Reviewed Publications:

  1. Arca MJ, Caniano DA. Breast disorders in the adolescent patient. Adolesc Med Clin. 2004; 15(3):473-485.
  2. Cakan N, Kamat D. Gynecomastia: evaluation and treatment recommendations for primary care providers. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2007; 46(6):487-490.
  3. Choi BS, Lee SR, Byun GY, et al. The Characteristics and Short-Term Surgical Outcomes of Adolescent Gynecomastia. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2017 Apr 27. [Epub ahead of print]
  4. Fischer S, Hirsch T, Hirche C, et al. Surgical treatment of primary gynecomastia in children and adolescents. Pediatr Surg Int. 2014; 30(6):641-647.
  5. Hammond DC. Surgical correction of gynecomastia. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2009; 124(1 Suppl):61e-68e.
  6. Hammond DC, Arnold JF, Simon AM, Capraro PA. Combined use of ultrasonic liposuction with the pull-through technique for the treatment of gynecomastia. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2003; 112(3):891-895.
  7. Hines SL, Tan W, Larson JM, et al. A practical approach to guide clinicians in the evaluation of male patients with breast masses. Geriatrics. 2008; 63(6):19-24.
  8. Hodgson EL, Fruhstorfer BH, Malata CM. Ultrasonic liposuction in the treatment of gynecomastia. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2005; 116(2):646-653.
  9. Ladizinski B, Lee KC, Nutan FN, et al. Gynecomastia: etiologies, clinical presentations, diagnosis, and management. South Med J. 2014; 107(1):44-49.
  10. Lanitis S, Starren E, Read J, et al. Surgical management of Gynaecomastia: outcomes from our experience. Breast. 2008; 17(6):596-603.
  11. McGrath MH, Schooler WG. Elective plastic surgical procedures in adolescence. Adolesc Med Clin. 2004; 15(3):487-502.  
  12. Mentz HA, Ruiz-Razura A, Newall G, et al. Correction of gynecomastia through a single puncture incision. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2007; 31(3):244-249.
  13. Petty PM, Solomon M, Buchel EW, Tran NV. Gynecomastia: evolving paradigm of management and comparison of techniques. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2010; 125(5):1301-1308.
  14. Qutob O, Elahi B, Garimella V, et al. Minimally invasive excision of gynaecomastia--a novel and effective surgical technique. Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2010; 92(3):198-200.
  15. Rohrich RJ, Ha RY, Kenkel JM, et al. Classification and management of gynecomastia: defining the role of ultrasound-assisted liposuction. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2003; 111(2):909-923.
  16. Rosen H, et al. Adolescent gynecomastia: not only an obesity issue. Annals of Plastic Surgery. 2010; 64(5):688-690.
  17. Song YN, Wang YB, Huang R, et al. Surgical Treatment of Gynecomastia: Mastectomy Compared to Liposuction Technique. Ann Plast Surg. 2014; 73(3):275-278.
  18. Zavlin D, Jubbal KT, Friedman JD, Echo A. Complications and Outcomes After Gynecomastia Surgery: Analysis of 204 Pediatric and 1583 Adult Cases from a National Multi-center Database. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2017 Mar 24. [Epub ahead of print]

Government Agency, Medical Society, and Other Authoritative Publications:

  1. Marcell AV. Chapter 12- Adolescence. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanson BF, Editors. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th Ed. St. Louis, MO: WB. Saunders, Inc. 2007.
  2. Tanner JM. Growth at Adolescence, 2nd ed. Oxford, England, Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1962. SMR, sexual maturity rating.
  3. Townsend. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery, 16th edition. W. B. Saunders Company, 2001:559, 1567.
Websites for Additional Information
  1. National Cancer Institute: Breast Cancer. Available at: Accessed on June 13, 2017.
Document History






Medical Policy & Technology Assessment Committee (MPTAC) review. Minor formatting edit made to Position Statement section. Rationale and References sections updated. Updated Coding section with 10/01/2017 ICD-10-CM changes.
Reviewed 08/04/2016 MPTAC review. Rationale, Background and Reference sections updated. Removed ICD-9 codes from Coding section.
Reviewed 08/06/2015 MPTAC review. Rationale, Background and Reference sections updated.
Reviewed 08/14/2014 MPTAC review. Description, Rationale and Reference sections updated. Index section removed.
Reviewed 08/08/2013 MPTAC review. Rationale and Reference sections updated.
Reviewed 08/09/2012 MPTAC review. Description, Web Sites and Coding sections updated.
Reviewed 08/18/2011 MPTAC review. Description (Note), Rationale, Reference, Background, and Index sections updated.
Reviewed 08/19/2010 MPTAC review. Rationale and references updated.
Revised 08/27/2009 MPTAC review. Rationale, background, definitions and references updated. List of conditions which may be associated with gynecomastia removed from position statement section and added to rationale.
Reviewed 08/28/2008 MPTAC review. Rationale, background, and references updated. Klinefelter's syndrome clarified to be 47XXY in the position statement. No change to stance. Coding updated to include ICD-9 changes effective 10/01/2008.
  04/01/2008 Added Reconstructive Definition. A NOTE was added after the Reconstructive Definition to clarify that not all benefit contracts include a reconstructive services benefit.
  02/21/2008 The phrase "investigational/not medically necessary" was clarified to read "investigational and not medically necessary." This change was approved at the November 29, 2007 MPTAC meeting.
Reviewed 08/23/2007 MPTAC review. References and coding updated. Minor grammar changes.
  01/01/2007 Updated Coding section with 01/01/2007 CPT/HCPCS changes; removed CPT 19140 deleted 12/31/2006.
Reviewed 09/14/2006 MPTAC review. References and coding updated.
Revised 09/22/2005 MPTAC review. Revision based on Pre-merger Anthem and Pre-merger WellPoint Harmonization.
Pre-Merger Organizations

Last Review Date

Document Number


Anthem, Inc.


04/27/2004 SURG.00023 Breast Procedures; including Prophylactic Mastectomy; Reconstructive Surgery, including implants; Reduction Mammoplasty; Mastectomy for Gynecomastia
WellPoint Health Networks, Inc. 09/23/2004 Clinical Guideline Surgical Treatment of Gynecomastia