Sensitive medical documentation has been leaked, perhaps by Santa’s own personal physician, Dr. Nick Kringle, that the jolly old elf—Santa himself—suffers from gynecomastia—AKA moobs, manboobs, and other less-than-complimentary terms.
Perhaps it’s time to have a frank discussion about gynecomastia, as we suspect the leak is true! Santa is known to be fond of cookies and milk, leading to obesity (sorry, but it’s true), so we’re pretty certain he has gynecomastia, as most obese men have it. Although we aren’t sure Santa would be interested in eliminating his man-boobs or—the more proper description—enlarged breast tissue, we do know that lots of men in Michigan suffer the embarrassment of gynecomastia. Since there’s only one Santa, we can safely assume that the other men with enlarged breasts (A) aren’t Santa and (B) might like to know what can be done to safely and effectively treat this concern.
Gynecomastia is surprisingly common—estimates are that at any given time, more than half of all men have enlarged breasts! There are two times in a male’s life when enlarged breasts tend to occur: during puberty and during a man’s later years. Why is this the case? Because hormonal swings—common during puberty and as a man ages—can cause the breasts to enlarge. Doubtless, many of you have noted the slightly puffy breast tissue in male newborns. It’s caused by reserves of estrogen from the mother. When that estrogen reserve begins to dissipate between 4-6 weeks of age, the male baby’s breasts become more normal in size. It’s the magic of hormones!
There are other reasons for enlarged breasts in men. Certain chemicals and medications can cause gynecomastia, particularly steroids and marijuana. There are also medical problems that can cause gynecomastia. Therefore, enlarged male breasts, although usually of no particular medical concern, should be checked out by a family physician or an endocrinologist before plans are made for any intervention by a cosmetic surgeon.
Although enlarged breast tissue in men is usually not a medical concern, it can cause significant emotional distress. It’s a rare teenaged boy or adult male with gynecomastia that isn’t terribly embarrassed by it. Boys who previously enjoyed swimming and wore t-shirts and tank tops suddenly hate the beach, refuse to enjoy the pool with the family and may even become withdrawn, shying away from boy-girl interactions at exactly the age when they’re learning how to relate to the opposite sex. Worse, they can bear the brunt of teasing from other boys when changing clothes after gym or sporting events. Obviously, this embarrassment isn’t limited to teenaged boys. Grown men with gynecomastia also avoid situations in which exposure of their enlarged breasts might happen—the aforementioned beach as well as the gym.
Happily, there are several options to help men with gynecomastia. One is liposuction. Unless the skin is stretched to the point where sagging is likely to occur after removal of the excess fatty tissue, liposuction is usually the procedure of choice. However, for men with excessively large breasts and/or skin sagging, excising some of the skin surrounding the breasts may be necessary along with removal of the fatty tissue.
In general, male breast reduction is a simple outpatient procedure that takes only a couple of hours. Recovery is rapid; most patients need only a couple days from work or school following a breast reduction procedure. It’s quite the rewarding treatment once recovery is complete and the embarrassing problem has been resolved.
We don’t expect Santa to call our SW Michigan plastic surgery office for gynecomastia treatment anytime soon, but if you or someone you love is concerned about enlarged male breasts, we’re the folks to see. Schedule a consultation at our Portage or Battle Creek plastic surgery office, and we’ll show you what we can do to help you regain a masculine chest!