Most men have no idea they could have a condition that causes their breasts to become enlarged. Even fewer do anything about their condition, except for maybe avoiding the beach. But enlarged male breasts, a condition known as gynecomastia, deserves more respect and education.
What Is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia refers to enlarged breasts in men which can cause extreme self-consciousness. This doesn’t occur in only a handful of people, either — 40 to 60 percent of men are affected by gynecomastia. Dr. Walden performs male breast reduction to correct this breast enlargement.
Causes of Gynecomastia
What’s behind adult gynecomastia is somewhat of an unknown. The condition is common in pubescent boys, however. It is estimated that up to 70 percent of boys have gynecomastia to some degree. In pubescent boys the cause is the changing levels of estrogen and testosterone. Teenage gynecomastia usually resolves as hormone levels stabilize.
With adults, causation isn’t clear-cut. Middle-aged and older men also are experiencing shifts in hormone levels, and that could be triggering gynecomastia. Certain medications can also cause gynecomastia:
- Anti-anxiety drugs
- AIDS treatment drugs
- Heartburn treatment drugs
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Marijuana use
- Heroin use
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Herbal products with tree oil and lavender oil (each contain natural estrogen)
Am I a Candidate for Male Breast Reduction Surgery?
The question of whether surgery can fix a patient’s condition involves ruling some things out. If a man’s enlarged breasts are due to weight gain, the first step is to lose the weight and see if the condition persists. Heavy drinkers and marijuana users also aren’t candidates for surgery, as their breast enlargement comes from their lifestyle choices.
Dr. Walden can diagnose when gynecomastia is to blame. She’ll feel for a firm, rubbery mass underneath the nipple area. The size of this mass is usually less than two inches in diameter. It will often be sensitive to applied pressure. Before opting for surgery, Dr. Walden will likely begin treatment by prescribing medication that reduces the amount of estrogen the patient’s body is producing.
Male Breast Reduction Procedure
If surgery proves necessary, Dr. Walden will consult with you on the details of the procedure. To avoid obvious scarring, Dr. Walden usually will make incisions either in the armpits or around the areola. She will then remove the glandular tissue, along with excess skin and fat. Liposuction may be included if the patient has an abundance of fat in the breasts in addition to the glandular tissue. The procedure usually lasts around one hour.
Male Breast Reduction Surgery Recovery
This is not an overly difficult recovery. There will be some swelling and discomfort that may last up to two weeks, but it will begin to resolve relatively quickly. You will need to wear a compression shirt or vest to reduce swelling and to help your chest conform to its new contour. You should be able to resume most of your normal activities within one week after surgery, but any exercise, such as weightlifting, that puts pressure on the chest will need to wait for up to one month. Dr. Walden will discuss this with you during your follow-up.
Is Male Breast Reduction Permanent?
Recurrence of gynecomastia is very rare after excision surgery. True gynecomastia, versus enlarged breasts due to weight gain, is caused mainly by excess glandular tissue. This causes the protrusion of the nipple-areola complex. In male breast reduction surgery, Dr. Walden removes the majority of the mammary gland, leaving enough to support the nipple-areola. With this tissue gone, the chances of recurrence are very low.
However, if the gynecomastia was due to the use of steroids, marijuana, or other medications, it is possible for a patient’s breasts to become enlarged again if usage is continued.