According to the National Institutes of Health, gynecomastia may affect more than half of all boys and men at some point during their lifetime. What is gynecomastia? True gynecomastia is a condition in which men or boys develop more glandular breast tissue than is normal, leading to enlarged male breasts. The enlarged breast tissue in feels hard and rubbery under the nipple and areola, and is usually only about an inch and a half in length. Some men experience other symptoms, including tenderness and discharge.
Pseudogynecomastia is a condition in which overweight men develop breasts that look are feminine in outward appearance, but the “breasts” are caused by fat, not by breast tissue. The male breasts in pseudogynecomastia feel soft and fatty, not hard or rubbery.
What causes gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia can develop at various stages of life. It’s normal for both male and females to have a combination of “female” hormones (estrogens) and “male” hormones (androgens), but when males have more estrogen than is usual, they may develop female characteristics, such as fuller breasts.
Some infant boys are born with gynecomastia as a result of overexposure to their mother’s estrogens while in the womb. Neonatal gynecomastia almost always resolves on its own within weeks after birth.
Boys may also develop gynecomastia during puberty, when their bodies are flooded with hormones. Pubertal gynecomastia usually appears between the ages of 10 and 17, and resolves within one to three years without treatment.
Men over 50 are particularly susceptible to gynecomastia, which affects about 40% to 55% of aging men. Aging slows metabolism, which can lead to lower levels of testosterone, the loss of muscle mass, and the development of fatty deposits. Fatty tissue tends to convert androgens to estrogens. The combination of fewer androgens and more estrogens may cause your breasts to develop more glandular tissue, resulting in male breasts.
Drugs that block androgens, such as marijuana, or decrease serum testosterone, such as chemotherapy, can cause gynecomastia. Other medications, including metoclopramide and antidepressants, may also raise your risk, as do exposure to certain herbs, including lavender. Some medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism and kidney failure, may also make you more susceptible.
Embarrassing, but not dangerous
Men who develop gynecomastia may worry that abnormal amounts of breast tissue may make them more susceptible to developing breast cancer. In almost all instances, the development of extra glandular breast tissue is a benign condition.
Only about 1% of men with gynecomastia develop breast cancer. However, the risk for male breast cancer increases with age, whether you have gynecomastia or not. Contact your doctor if you notice symptoms such as:
- Rash on a nipple
- Nipple discharge
- Lump on the breast
For most men with gynecomastia, however, the condition is more embarrassing than dangerous. They may feel self-conscious about their appearance and avoid going shirtless or wearing tight-fitting clothing.
Dr. Julio Garcia, an expert plastic surgeon in Las Vegas, understands how profoundly your appearance can affect your confidence and well-being. He offers breast reduction surgery for men with gynecomastia and liposuction for men with pseudogynecomastia.
Getting the masculine chest you want
Male breast reduction surgery not only removes the excess benign glandular breast tissue that causes the embarrassing appearance of gynecomastia, it also restores your hormonal balance. Excess male breast tissue contains estrogen expressers, which suppress androgens. When Dr. Garcia removes the estrogen-heavy tissue, your body starts to produce more androgens, which maintains the male appearance of your chest. Male breast reduction surgery is a permanent fix for gynecomastia; your condition will not return.
If you have pseudogynecomastia, Dr. Garcia recommends tumescent liposuction or laser-assisted lipoplasty to remove the excess fat. Liposuction may also be part of treatment for gynecomastia, depending on how much excess fatty tissue you have in addition to glandular breast tissue.
Surgery is the cure
When you have gynecomastia and consult with board-certified plastic surgeon such as Dr. Garcia about breast reduction surgery, he first ensures that your gynecomastia is not a recent development and that your breast tissue isn’t continuing to grow. He may also advise a weight-loss program, changing or adjusting the prescription to medications that may be causing your condition. Depending on his findings, he may also refer you to an endocrinologist.
If Dr. Garcia determines that you’re a good candidate for breast reduction surgery in Las Vegas, he discusses the surgery in detail and the outcome you can expect. Because he trained as an artist as well as a surgeon, and understands the needs of the masculine body, Dr. Garcia makes improvements that respect your male body type and proportions.
A simple procedure
To prepare you for breast reduction surgery, Dr. Garcia discusses both the benefits and the risks of the procedure. You’ll need to be sedated during your surgery, so Dr. Garcia helps you decide whether you’d prefer general anesthesia (fully asleep) or twilight anesthesia (drowsy, but conscious). He also provides you detailed guidelines which types of blood-thinning medications, herbs, and foods you should avoid during the weeks before and after your surgery. You also must stop smoking for at least two weeks before and two weeks after your breast reduction.
On the day of your procedure, after you’ve been prepped and sedated, Dr. Garcia makes an incision in your breast through which he removes the excess breast tissue. He may also liposuction away any excess fat. He may need to reposition your nipples after removing excess tissue for the most balanced and masculine appearance.
After the male appearance of your chest has been achieved, Dr. Garcia closes your incisions. During your healing process, the scars fade. If you’re still bothered by them months later, Dr. Garcia can improve them with lasers, microneedling, or other therapies.
Take time for yourself
You should expect to take off at least two weeks from work, household chores, and most other activities. Not only will you need someone to drive you home after your surgery, you should arrange for a family member, friend, or professional to cook your meals, clean your house, and take care of any kids or pets for the first one to two weeks.
Dr. Garcia recommends not going to the gym or engaging in any vigorous activities — including running or jogging — for at least one month after your surgery. Once he gives you the all-clear and your body feels ready, go slowly and add back activities one at a time.
After you’ve had your breast reduction surgery, your gynecomastia won’t return. However, you should continue maintain a healthy weight.
When you’re ready for a chest that looks and feels masculine again, contact Dr. Garcia for a consultation by phone or email.