Breast surgery isn’t just for women. While many women want larger or perkier breasts, men dealing with gynecomastia, a condition that causes enlarged breasts in males, wish they didn’t have any breasts. Fortunately, gynecomastia is relatively easy to treat with surgery. Whether you’re being teased or just feel self conscious, male breast reduction surgery can help solve some of your woes.
What Is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is the enlargement of the breast tissue in men. It can happen at any age, from adult men to teens going through puberty and even newborn babies. A variety of things can cause the breast tissue to swell, from changes in hormone levels to medications and illegal drugs. When the condition occurs in babies, it’s usually because the newborn has high levels of estrogen in his system. Babies born with gynecomastia usually lose all trace of the condition after about three weeks.
Some boys develop gynecomastia when they go through puberty, thanks to fluctuating hormone levels. While puberty can be a particularly challenging time of life to have male breasts, the condition usually resolves after a few years, once the hormone levels even out.
About 30 percent of all guys will have to deal with enlarged breasts at some point. The largest group of men dealing with male breasts is the older crowd. About a quarter of men over the age of 50 have some degree of gynecomastia. Hormonal changes that occur as men get older can be to blame for the increase in breast tissue.
Older men are also more likely to be taking medications that can cause swelling in the breasts. For example, some antidepressants, antibiotics and anti-anxiety medicines, along with many others, can cause swelling of the breasts.
A number of illegal street drug can also cause the condition, as can high levels of alcohol. In some cases, men develop enlarged breasts as a symptom of a condition, such as hyperthyroidism or hypogonadism.
Gynecomastia not only causes visible symptoms. It can also cause a patient psychological discomfort or stress and physical symptoms, as the breasts can be tender.
How Is It Treated?
Gynecomastia reverses itself naturally in some men. For example, if a man develops larger breasts because of medication, hormonal shifts or street drugs, stopping the drugs or medication or having hormone levels even out can cause the breast tissue to reduce in size on its own.
But there are cases where the breast tissue doesn’t shrink on its own or respond to other treatments. If you are feeling embarrassed by gynecomastia and nothing else seems to help, you might benefit the most from male breast reduction surgery.
How your plastic surgeon performs male breast reduction depends on several factors, most notably the size of the breast tissue and the elasticity of the skin. In some cases, it’s possible to reduce the size of the breasts and to create a smooth, flat, masculine looking chest using only liposuction. Liposuction removes extra fat in the breast area, but won’t remove excess breast tissue or skin.
In more advanced cases, a man might need a mastectomy, which removes the breast tissue itself as well as extra skin and fat.
What are the Benefits of Treatment?
The benefits of gynecomastia treatment are both physical and psychological. Although most adults are past the point where they point and laugh at other people’s bodies, being a man with breasts can be very nerve wracking. You might feel self conscious about how you look in shirts, how you look in the locker room or shower at the gym, and how potential romantic partners perceive you. Removing male breasts or considerably reducing their size can make you feel less self conscious about how you look, with or without a shirt.
Although a surgeon does have to make incisions during a treatment for gynecomastia, the incisions are usually small and are positioned so that they are barely visible once you’ve fully healed.
What Else to Think About Before Treatment
It’s important to understand what is involved in healing after surgery to treat gynecomastia. As with any breast surgery, some healing and recovery time is needed. Many men take about a week off from work to rest up and recover. During that first week, it’s not uncommon to have some discomfort and swelling. Any pain you feel can be managed with medications, which your surgeon will prescribe.
One thing to know about the recovery period: it might be some time before you’re ready to show off your masculine, flat chest. A lot of patients wear a support garment for up to a month after surgery. The garment helps hold everything in place and speeds up healing and recovery. To help your recovery go smoothly and quickly, it’s essential that you listen to your doctor and follow his instructions to the letter.
Dr. Paul Vitenas, a board certified plastic surgeon, is one of Houston’s top rated breast surgeons. Along with offering breast augmentation, lift and reductions for female patients, he also performs breast reductions on male patients. If gynecomastia is making you self conscious and you want a boost in confidence, call 281-484-0088 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Vitenas today.