Gynecomastia is the clinical name for overdeveloped or enlarged breasts in men. Characterized by excess glandular tissue, localized fat, or excess breast skin, gynecomastia can occur in men of any age and is often the result of hormonal changes. Although most people associate estrogen as a female hormone, men also produce it, usually in small quantities. When male estrogen levels become too high or are out of balance with testosterone levels, however, it can trigger an abnormal growth of breast tissue. For men – especially young men – who have gynecomastia, going to the beach, the gym, wearing certain clothes or being intimate can be uncomfortable to embarrassing. Rarely discussed and often misunderstood, there are surgical options for men diagnosed with gynecomastia. Here is what you need to know.
Causes of Gynecomastia
About half of all males going through puberty have some degree of gynecomastia in one or both of their breasts. It’s usually a temporary condition, and their breasts eventually flatten out completely within a matter of months or a couple of years without requiring medical treatment. Sometimes gynecomastia doesn’t resolve itself. Reasons for this include heredity, obesity, or a side effect of certain medications, a few of which are now subject to class action lawsuits.
Side Effects of Gynecomastia
Although it is a benign condition, gynecomastia can cause symptoms such as breast tenderness, swelling, pain, and/or discharge. In severe cases, the weight of the excess breast tissue can cause a man’s breasts to sag and stretch the areola. For those whose breasts remain overdeveloped, gynecomastia can prove problematic both physically and psychologically. Besides causing emotional discomfort and ruining one’s self-confidence, it can discourage some men from participating in certain physical activities or intimacy as a means of hiding their condition.
Many men with gynecomastia are choosing to correct it with reduction mammoplasty, which reduces breast size and enhancing one’s chest contours. A gynecomastia procedure involves one or both of two techniques. If the gynecomastia is the result of excess fatty tissue, liposuction is a viable option. This involves the insertion of a cannula, or thin hollow tube, through several small incisions. The cannula is then manipulated in a controlled motion to loosen the excess fat. It is then removed from the breast by vacuum suction.
If glandular breast tissue or excess skin needs to be removed to correct the gynecomastia, your plastic surgeon will recommend the excision technique. This method is also necessary if the areola needs to be reduced or the nipple must be repositioned to create a more natural male contour. Of course, incision patterns will vary depending on your specific condition.
In certain cases, a combination of liposuction and excision techniques are necessary to achieve the desired outcome. During any of these procedures, medications in the form of intravenous sedation or general anesthesia are administered to ensure your comfort. Depending on the cause of your gynecomastia, your medical insurance may cover the procedure.
If you are a male with gynecomastia and interested in undergoing a breast augmentation procedure, the Breast Surgery Center is the right place for you. Our experts have a wealth of knowledge and experience working on breast surgeries in both women and men. Call (718) 268-6060 today to make an appointment.