If you suffer from gynecomastia or have male breasts, there are cosmetic options to help. One cosmetic procedure that many people do not know about is male breast reduction surgery. Many people choose not to talk about or even recognize the need for male breast surgery and the majority of cosmetic surgery practices are geared towards women. We at Nuance Cosmetic Surgery in Folsom, CA, however, understand the need for this surgery. If you are considering this procedure, you might have some questions. We are here to help.
What Causes Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is the enlargement or growth of breast tissue in men. The primary cause is upset in the testosterone/estrogen balance. Several things can upset this delicate balance:
Natural Hormone Changes
Your hormones can change any time during your life, but the most pronounced changes are during puberty and later in life. Men who produce too much estrogen or too little testosterone may develop gynecomastia at any point in their life.
As with any hormone level or condition, genetics can cause gynecomastia. Although there are many cases that are not inherited, there is a link between parents with this condition and their children. It is important to remember that heredity can cause a predisposition to gynecomastia but not necessarily the condition itself.
There are quite a few medications that can contribute to the development of gynecomastia. Some of these medications are:
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Heart medications of all varieties
- Heartburn medications
Although there are others, these are the main prescription and over-the-counter medications that can cause gynecomastia. Often, you can switch or reduce these medications to help prevent a recurrence of the gynecomastia.
Illegal drugs may also contribute to the hormonal imbalance that brings on this condition. The most common culprits are:
- Amphetamines, such as meth
- Opioids such as heroin
In the case of illegal drug use, you will need to stop using the drugs that caused the gynecomastia after the surgery. This will not only help you heal after surgery, but it will also help to prevent the problem from recurring.
Although not strictly a cause of gynecomastia, obesity can make male breasts grow larger, prompting the need for a reduction. The fat tissue can build up in the chest just as it does in other areas of the body. The technical term for this breast growth, in both men and women, is adipomastia. While it affects both men and women, the effects of weight gain in this area of the body are often more concerning men.
Some health conditions can also contribute to gynecomastia. These health conditions are:
- Kidney disease and failure
- Tumors that involve the endocrine system, such as adrenal tumors
- Liver disease
Essentially, any disease that causes low testosterone or high estrogen can be implicated in the development of gynecomastia. Please remember that sometimes gynecomastia is a normal reaction to the aging process and surgery is often the best and most permanent solution.
Some Herbal Products
Some herbal products are also credited in the development of gynecomastia. These supplements and herbal products are ones that contain plant oils. Sometimes herbal lotions, shampoos, and conditioners can even be a problem. It is important to discuss the use of herbal supplements and products containing estrogen with your doctor, particularly if you have a family history of gynecomastia.
Using these products can cause your testosterone levels to drop or your estrogen levels to rise. When these two hormones are unbalanced, for whatever reason, gynecomastia can occur.
How Many Men Experience Gynecomastia?
Some sources say that as many as one in every four men between the ages of 40 and 80 have some form of gynecomastia. Among teenagers, the rate is around 70 percent, and it can even affect newborns. In the case of teens and newborns, the majority of the cases of gynecomastia resolve themselves without treatment.
What Are the Psychological Implications of Gynecomastia?
Although gynecomastia is very rarely physically dangerous, it can cause some serious psychological issues. These psychological issues can be long-lasting and difficult. Some psychological problems associated with gynecomastia are:
- Body dissatisfaction
- Eating disorders
- Low self-esteem
These psychological issues can range from mild to severe and may require treatment as well as male breast surgery to correct the physical problem. In severe cases, the combination of medications for an existing psychological disorder can cause an increase in the growth of breast tissue.
What Are the Physical Symptoms of Gynecomastia?
Aside from the obvious symptoms of male breasts, men suffering from gynecomastia often suffer from:
- Swollen breast tissue
- Tender breasts
- Pain around the breast
- Discharge from the nipple
This can happen with one or both breasts.
Common Misconceptions About Gynecomastia
Only Women Can Develop Visible Breasts
One of these misconceptions is that only women develop breasts. This is simply not true. Men can develop the same breast tissue as women do. Like women, men also can develop uneven breasts.
It’s Just Fat and Can Be Lost With Diet Changes
Another misconception is that the breast tissue is fat and easily lost. Again, this is not true. Male breast tissue has a similar composition to female breast tissue and often it takes a surgical reduction to remove it. Even if the problem is fat tissue rather than glandular tissue, simply losing weight can leave stretch marks and loose skin. This is why surgery is one of the better options for reduction.
This Is Rare
One of the most popular misconceptions is that gynecomastia is rare. Many newborns have the beginnings of male breasts, many will develop it during puberty, and many middle-aged men have issues with gynecomastia.
There Are No Dangers Associated With This Condition
A similar myth is that gynecomastia has no dangers. This is not the case. Once the breast tissue develops, it is possible for males to have breast cancer. Although breast cancer in males is rare, it is still a danger of leaving gynecomastia untreated, particularly if there is a family history of breast cancer.
Are There Any Fast Treatments for Gynecomastia?
The fastest treatment for gynecomastia is a breast reduction. It is important to remember that there are various treatments advertised that are both unsound and unhealthy. Some recommend crash diets, which not only will fail to reduce breast tissue but can cause other physical and psychological problems. There are also chemicals being sold as breast reduction treatments that are at best ineffective and at worst dangerous.
In severe cases of gynecomastia, where the breasts are uncomfortable or producing discharge, surgery is the only option. After the surgery, diet, exercise, and a reduction in medication are usually warranted.
Is Male Breast Reduction Surgery Inpatient or Outpatient Surgery?
Typically male breast surgery is an outpatient procedure. As techniques advance, the surgery itself becomes faster and easier. You can now receive a reduction and go home the same day. Like the female breast reduction, this is a relatively fast process.
What Happens During Reduction Surgery?
The exact surgical technique varies depending on whether the issue is glandular tissue, fat, or simply excess skin. In all cases, the unwanted tissue is removed and we contour the chest for a natural look. If there is excess skin, the doctor will remove the excess to tighten the chest for a more masculine look and feel.
We are always happy to discuss exactly what will happen during your surgery. Since surgical techniques and procedures vary, we tailor each surgery to the individual receiving it so we can best suit your needs and help you achieve a more pleasing look and feel.
In most cases, breast reduction surgery involves liposuction or a complete mastectomy (removal of the whole breast) in men. This is different than a mastectomy for women because it is far less invasive and easier to accomplish.
How Long Does It Take to Recover From Gynecomastia Surgery?
Gynecomastia surgery is normally very fast and easy to recover from. Depending on the surgical technique used, the recovery time is usually around four to six weeks for a complete recovery, assuming you are healthy and healing normally. There are things that can interrupt the healing process. Continuing to take medications such as steroids, illegal drugs, and medications that cause gynecomastia can impede the healing process.
Most people return to work after three to seven days and can return to almost normal activity levels in a few weeks. The majority of post-operative care consists of using a compression bandage over the area to maintain shape and control swelling and being cautious about lifting or stretching.
Does Reduction Surgery Leave Scars?
All surgery leaves some scarring. The scars for gynecomastia surgery are normally very small and not very noticeable. If you are concerned about scarring, you will want to make sure that your surgeon knows this. Cosmetic surgeons seek to minimize scar tissue where ever possible. This means making only small incisions and small stitches when necessary. In the majority of cases, the scarring is minimal and fades quickly with proper aftercare.
Is Male Breast Reduction Surgery Permanent?
In most cases a male reduction is permanent, but as with almost all cosmetic surgery, a certain lifestyle should be adopted to maintain it. In the case of gynecomastia caused by medication, steroids, or other nonessential drugs, these drugs should be reduced or eliminated. A proper diet and exercise are also needed to maintain the new chest contours.
Unfortunately, there is always a chance that your hormone levels will start to become unbalanced again and your breasts will return. Fortunately, you can have the surgery again years down the road with no added risk.
One of the most important factors in keeping your new shape is a healthy lifestyle. This means avoiding large quantities of alcohol and illegal and legal drugs as well as eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight, particularly if you are prone to gynecomastia.
Do You Need a Male Breast Reduction?
If you suffer from gynecomastia, then male breast reduction surgery can help improve both your confidence and your self-esteem as well as alleviate some more unpleasant symptoms of this condition. Body image is an important factor in determining how confident you feel. This surgery can help you feel better about yourself and your body.
If you suffer from gynecomastia, a male breast reduction may be the answer. You do not have to live with the stigma of unwanted breasts. The best way to find out if a reduction is right for you is to consult one of our board-certified cosmetic surgeons about your treatment options. We at Nuance Cosmetic Surgery in Folsom, CA want to help you be your best self. Contact us today to look better, feel better, and regain your confidence.