What Is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is a condition where a man’s breasts become enlarged. It’s a condition that can cause great embarrassment and social isolation for men. They feel self-conscious about their appearance and avoid activities that require them to be shirtless in public. Some breast enlargement is normal in boys hitting puberty, but it should resolve itself by the time the boy turns 18. In some men, however, surgery may be the only option. Gynecomastia surgery, also known as the male breast reduction is a surgical reduction of male breast tissue.
How Common Is Male Breast Enlargement?
It has been estimated that 1 in 4 adult men develop gynecomastia at some point. Infants and pubescent boys can also experience breast enlargement though, in their situation, the condition is expected to pass. Adult men may need gynecomastia surgery to correct enlarged breasts.
What Are The Causes Of Male Breast Enlargement?
The direct cause of gynecomastia is a change in the balance between testosterone and estrogen. Usually, a man has many times more testosterone than estrogen. Interestingly, when testosterone level declines, estrogen can quickly become dominant.
The question about male breast enlargement is what may cause hormones to shift. Studies have indicated that estrogen dominance may occur naturally during certain stages, including infancy and adolescence, when sex hormones enter a state of flux. Adult men may develop gynecomastia as a result of weight, age, medication use, health conditions, and lifestyle.
What Are The Symptoms Of Male Breast Enlargement?
Male breast enlargement may first appear as a lump of fatty tissue under one or both nipples. The central part of the breast may look slightly puffy in some cases. Gynecomastia can also cause minor sensitivity and tenderness in the breast as well as enlargement of the colored skin around the nipple (areola).
If gynecomastia occurs unilaterally, one breast may look slightly larger than the other. Bilateral gynecomastia affecting both breasts could also occur asymmetrically.
It is important to differentiate between gynecomastia and the condition referred to as pseudogynecomastia. There is a common misconception that male breast enlargement only affects men who are overweight. However, in pseudogynecomastia, it could be that fatty deposits are a factor in the appearance of male breasts. Additionally, excess weight in men can alter the balance between testosterone and estrogen, exacerbating the problem or potentially leading to true gynecomastia, the condition in which male breasts relate to glandular tissue.
Am I A Good Candidate For Gynecomastia Surgery?
Because there are techniques to address both pseudogynecomastia and true gynecomastia, many men who desire a more defined chest can be good candidates for treatment. Surgical intervention may be appropriate for men who:
- Have not been helped by weight loss and lifestyle changes.
- Are generally healthy and do not have a significant medical condition that may affect healing.
- Are at a stable weight.
- Do not smoke.
- The results of gynecomastia surgery may be best in men who are conservative drinkers or non-drinkers and who do not use recreational drugs or anabolic steroids.
Benefits Of Gynecomastia Surgery?
Gynecomastia can vastly improve the appearance of the chest. The outpatient procedure contours the chest to appear more masculine, after which a man can feel much more confident in his appearance.
Can Male Breast Enlargement Cause Cancer?
Being that that first indication of gynecomastia is often a lump or tender fatty deposit under the nipple, many men feel concerned that they may have breast cancer. While tests may be performed to rule this out, studies do not suggest that there is a link between enlarged male breasts and breast cancer in most cases.
Breast cancer in men typically provides clues outside of swelling around the nipple. Breast cancer may occur on any part of the breast, so a lump away from the nipple may be more of a warning sign. Breast cancer also usually affects only one side of the breast and presents a lump that feels firm. Additional symptoms that may indicate breast cancer versus gynecomastia include nipple discharge, skin dimpling, and enlarged lymph nodes in the underarm area.
What Is The Male Breast Reduction Procedure?
The objective of gynecomastia surgery is to reinstate breast contours to a masculine form and correct deformities in the nipple or areola as needed. The details of surgery may differ slightly for each patient depending on the extent of correction needed. Techniques may include liposuction, surgical excision of glandular tissue or a combination of the two.
- Surgery takes into account the likelihood of skin laxity after treatment. If there is a chance for redundant skin, tissue can be trimmed to avoid this problem.
- The incisions of male breast reduction surgery may be made only around the lower curve of the areola.
- Incision length is determined by each patient’s unique anatomy.
- Tissue resection to remove the breast gland or nipple repositioning may be performed to maximize the outcome of treatment.
Liposuction For Male Breast Reduction
The use of liposuction has improved the outcome of gynecomastia treatment for many men. This technique may be the sole method of correction or may coincide with surgical tissue resection based on the extent of male breast enlargement. The purpose of liposuction in the treatment of male breasts is to remove fatty deposits so the chest appears flatter and can be made firmer by exercise. Liposuction is not a method of correcting glandular gynecomastia.
When Will I See The Results Of Breast Reduction?
Patients can expect to see the beginning of their new body right away after male breast reduction. However, it can take up to 6 months for swelling to completely subside. At this point is when men can expect to see their final results from gynecomastia surgery.
What Is The Recovery Process Like?
Most gynecomastia procedures are performed on an outpatient basis. Patients are released to a loved one and encouraged to dedicate the remainder of their day to rest. Drains may be placed to prevent fluid buildup in healing tissues. Drains are tiny tubes that may be removed as soon as the day after surgery. The bulk of recovery occurs over a two-week period. Initially, prescription pain medication may be taken to control discomfort. A compression garment must be worn around the chest and can also provide a sense of comfort. A week to two weeks after surgery, stitches may either dissolve or be removed. Full post-operative instructions are provided by our team before surgery and we are happy to answer questions that may arise during recovery.
How Soon Can I Start Exercising After Male Breast Reduction Surgery?
Initially, patients are advised to rest as much as possible after surgery. The body needs to devote energy to tissue healing, not to physical exertion. Light, low-impact activities may begin a few weeks after surgery but must avoid placing pressure on the chest. No chest exercises or push-ups. Resistance and strength training may resume 4 to 6 weeks after surgery but patients are encouraged not to rush into an upper body exercise regimen. Periodic follow-up visits allow us to observe each patient’s recovery and discuss the timing of exercise and other activities.
Does Gynecomastia Come Back After Surgery?
Generally, men who undergo gynecomastia surgery enjoy long-lasting results. Certain situations may present a risk of breast enlargement, such as excessive weight gain or use of certain medications or supplements. If glandular tissue is removed during treatment, recurrent breast enlargement would likely only be pseudogynecomastia and may be alleviated with lifestyle changes.
Schedule A Gynecomastia Appointment
If you suffer from gynecomastia, our board-certified plastic surgeon can help you regain your confidence. Call us today at 513.985.0850 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. Dr. Donna Krummen proudly serves men in Cincinnati, OH, and surrounding communities.