Gynecomastia is a condition that affects men. It has several descriptions including male breast enlargement, overdeveloped male breasts and “man boobs.” Regardless of the term used to describe this condition, it can have the same effect on a man’s ego and sense of masculinity. Developing gynecomastia can shatter a man’s dreams of a sculpted chest that wins the admiration of others. Depending on how severe the condition is, you may lose self-confidence or even withdraw from social life. If this sounds like you and you’re seeking information on how to combat gynecomastia, there is a treatment that offers long-term results. Although several treatment options are available, a lot of men like the idea of seeing a plastic surgeon for male breast reduction surgery because it reduces the chance of breast regrowth.
What is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is the medical term for the swelling or enlargement of the male breasts. It is worthy to note that not all instances of swollen breasts will amount to a gynecomastia diagnosis. This is because several factors can lead to an increase in breast size, and the condition may resolve itself on its own, removing the need for treatment or surgery. In such cases, the condition is referred to as pseudogynecomastia and is typically due to excess fatty tissue deposits in and around the breast. Pseudogynecomastia is different from true gynecomastia, which typically occurs in adulthood and does not go away on its own. The reason for this is the glandular breast tissue is what becomes engorged or enlarged. As a result, surgery is usually necessary to permanently correct true gynecomastia.
What Causes Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia has a number of causes. According to the Cleveland Clinic, this type of male breast enlargement is most commonly caused by high levels of male estrogen or an imbalance of estrogen over testosterone. However, medications, health conditions, and using street drugs are also causes and risk factors.
Estrogen and testosterone are two hormones involved in male and female sexual reproduction. Among other things, testosterone regulates male sex drive, muscle mass, and fat distribution. Estrogen controls female traits including the development of breasts. Newborns and young men going through puberty are often affected by higher than normal estrogen levels in the body. The hormonal imbalances then cause the breasts to swell. However, the breasts go back to their usual size once hormonal balance is restored. This temporary gynecomastia can last for about two to three weeks in infants and six months to two years after puberty.
There is a list of health conditions known to upset the hormonal balance and lead to male breast enlargement. The main ones are hypogonadism, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), malnutrition, kidney failure, cirrhosis of the liver, and tumors of the adrenal gland, pituitary gland, or testes. Hypogonadism, also called testosterone deficiency, happens when the sex glands do not produce enough testosterone, sperm, or both. A drop in testosterone is common in aging men and is a primary reason for gynecomastia in men who are 50 years of age or older.
Anti-androgens used to treat conditions of the prostate such as prostate enlargement or cancer produce side effects that may result in abnormal breast growth. Medications such as antibiotics and drugs used to treat anxiety, depression, and HIV as well as chemotherapy drugs can also cause gynecomastia.
Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use:
Excessive alcohol drinking and using illegal substances such as marijuana or opioid drugs such as heroin and methadone are linked to unusual swelling of the breasts. The illicit use of prescription drugs such as anabolic steroids and amphetamines may also trigger the condition.
- Abnormal swelling in one or both breasts
- Presence of a small lump or bump behind the nipple
- Breasts that are tender to the touch
How is Gynecomastia Diagnosed?
Our plastic surgeon can conduct a physical exam, look at your medical history, and ask about your lifestyle and medications or drugs you use. This is part of a comprehensive clinical assessment that usually includes other tests to diagnose the condition and discuss your treatment options. The evaluation also helps our doctor determine if male breast reduction surgery is right for you. During your consultation, you can ask questions to better understand what this surgical procedure entails and what results to expect.
A case of true gynecomastia is more than just temporary swelling or excess chest fat. Therefore, treatment may be required to correct the condition. Treating the underlying condition responsible for breast enlargement is sometimes enough to control the health-related gynecomastia. Surgery may be required in instances where the swelling persists.
A doctor may prescribe medications specifically for any condition you have that is causing hormonal imbalances. If your condition stemmed from medications you are using, the doctor may tell you to stop taking them and may substitute them with other drugs if necessary.
Compression shirts, chest fat burners, and specially-designed exercises are simple ways to attempt to reduce breast size. Reducing alcohol intake and avoiding illicit drug use can also help. But these options cannot by themselves improve the gynecomastia if the enlargement is due to abnormal growth of the glandular tissue. A surgical procedure can be performed to remove the tissue and enhance the appearance of your chest.
A Closer Look at Male Breast Reduction
Gynecomastia surgery, also known as male breast reduction, is a surgical procedure to correct overdeveloped or enlarged breasts in men whose condition is persistent and cannot be resolved with other treatments. This surgery is safe and effective. The plastic surgeon may use a technique like liposuction to extract the excess fatty tissue. Liposuction can be done by itself or in combination with excision and other techniques. Our plastic surgeon can also contour your chest to improve your upper body appearance and give you a more masculine-looking chest.
This surgery is usually performed under a general or local anesthetic to minimize any discomfort during the procedure.
The plastic surgeon may use the liposuction technique alone if only fatty tissue needs to be removed.
An excision technique can be used to better the results of liposuction if there is a need to remove glandular tissue or excess skin from under and around the breast. It is also necessary if the nipples need to repositioned in preparation for contouring or shaping the chest.
After excision, the surgeon can sculpt and contour your chest to make it appear flatter and more masculine. Your chest may also look toned and firm.
What Results Should I Expect After Surgery?
You may notice some results immediately following the surgery. The results will continue to improve over the following weeks and months as the chest heals. You may be pleased to know that gynecomastia surgery results are usually permanent. This can finally give you the chance to live with confidence and without worrying about how your chest looks. You can even go shirtless on the beach! However, swelling of the breasts can recur if you go back to using medication, street drugs, or other substances linked to enlarged male breasts. Weight gain can also prompt the accumulation of fat under the breasts and affect the results. Therefore, it is important to follow the lifestyle advice given by the doctor to maintain the results.
What are the Top Benefits of Surgery?
While the results of surgery vary from patient to patient, there are certain general benefits you can look forward to enjoying. They include:
Being told you have “man boobs” or taunted about your looks may make it hard for you to accept your body. You may develop a sense of low self-esteem because of it. After your surgery, you’ll be able to sport a manly figure with a well-sculpted and contoured chest.
Excess fat and tissue in the upper body is one cause of misalignment in the upper segment of the spine. Your upper back may appear hunched over, and this can affect core strength or lead to chronic pain. Removing the excess fatty tissue from under the breasts and reshaping the chest can dramatically alter your posture, improve spinal alignment, and reduce the risk of back pain.
Resume Social Activities:
Men who opt for male breast reduction no longer have to deal with the anxiety of facing people at work or in other social circles. You’ll be ready to mingle because there are no more worries about what people think of you and your breasts.
Is Male Breast Reduction Right for Me?
In some cases, gynecomastia goes away without treatment. If your symptoms persist, the condition becomes painful, or any of the following applies to you, gynecomastia surgery may be right for you:
- Your breasts are fully developed and stabilized.
- You are persistently self-conscious about your looks.
- You feel embarrassed, worried, anxious, or depressed.
- You tried non-surgical treatments that failed.
- You stopped socializing or you don’t hang out with friends like you used to.
- You have trouble dating because of the appearance of your chest.
- You’re not taking certain medications.
- You do not smoke and are in good health.
- Your skin is firm and you have good muscle tone.
- You have reasonable expectations of the surgery and results.
Request an Appointment
Male breast reduction could change your life for the better! However, it is crucial to choose a plastic surgeon with the right level of experience performing the procedure. You can schedule an initial consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Sumida, at Nuance Cosmetic Surgery to discuss your condition and treatment options. We can walk you through every step of the surgery and provide aftercare support to ensure you maintain the results.