What is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is defined as an abnormal enlargement of the male breast. It can be quite stressful, especially in teenage boys, who will sometimes avoid gym class and/or involvement in sports if it requires their chest to be exposed to friends and teammates. Hurtful names are applied to this condition, including “man boobs”, “moobs” and others, making this a body- image challenge for those who suffer from the disorder.
What Causes Gynecomastia?
It’s usually caused by natural fluctuations in testosterone and estrogen. You may have noticed that newborn boys have enlarged breasts. The high levels of estrogen at birth cause enlarged breasts in newborns. As estrogen levels decrease, breast enlargement decreases as well. Gynecomastia is much more common than you might think: about 70% of all boys experience enlarged breasts during puberty. Middle-aged and older men quite often develop gynecomastia from a variety of causes, including obesity.
Certain drugs have been identified as causative factors. Antibiotics, heart and anxiety drugs, treatments for AIDS, chemotherapy and heartburn medications have been linked to the development of male breast enlargement. Excessive consumption of alcohol, marijuana use, and other illicit drugs such as amphetamines and heroin can result in gynecomastia.
Other Facts About Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia is often found in bodybuilders who use anabolic steroids to bulk up their muscles. In many cases, the problem resolves on its own when the hormone levels stabilize, such as when boys reach their physical maturity, or when causative medications or drugs are no longer taken.
Because there are so many things can cause enlarged male breast tissue, I often suggest that my gynecomastia patients see an endocrinologist before we choose liposuction or male breast reduction, just to rule out any medical problems. If the problem doesn’t go away on its own, and there is no medical cause, male breast reduction in Southwestern Michigan is a safe and effective option.
Am I a Good Candidate for Gynecomastia?
Teens and adult men who are otherwise healthy and desire a more masculine chest are usually good candidates for male breast reduction. At your consultation, we will discuss at length your desires, goals and objectives. I will examine your chest to determine the best approach, which is usually a choice between simple liposuction or, in the case of very large breasts, a breast reduction. I will be honest and straightforward with you as to the amount of improvement that I can accomplish, and any risks involved. If you decide on a surgical solution, my staff and I will use the safest and most effective technique to improve your body shape. I’ll go over all the options with you, because at Southwest Michigan Plastic Surgery we are 100% committed to your education about all your choices, so that you can make a sound decision.
What Are the Surgical Options for Gynecomastia?
Although each man’s anatomy is different, the choice of procedure is most influenced by the size and amount of extra breast tissue.
1. Liposuction of the extra breast tissue. This procedure involves suctioning out extra fat in the male breast through very small incisions.
2. Male breast reduction. This procedure is used in more severe cases of gynecomastia and involves the removal of breast tissue and extra skin to create a more masculine shape of the chest. Scars are concealed around the areola and in the fold under the breast.
Where Will My Male Breast Reduction Be Performed?
My plastic surgery procedures, including treatment for gynecomastia, are done at one of the two local accredited ambulatory surgical facilities close to my Southwest Michigan plastic surgery practice. For the past 15 years, I’ve been fortunate to work with many of the same staff members, including board certified anesthesiologists. The benefits to you include the safety of a hospital operating room without the exposure to hospital bacteria, and a personalized, caring and friendly experience.
How Is Male Breast Reduction Performed?
Before your procedure, I’ll draw marks on your chest as to where the liposuction or breast reduction procedure will be done. You’ll go to the operating room and be given a general anesthesia so that, when you wake up, you’ll be all done, having slept through the entire thing!
If liposuction is the procedure we’ve agreed upon, small incisions will be made in the chest and a sterile tumescent fluid (salt water mixed with a local anesthetic) will be injected into the chest to make for easy removal of the extra fat. Using a suctioning machine, the extra tissues will be removed, and the small incisions will be closed with steri-strips and/or maybe a suture or two. I’ll place you in a compression garment, which is like a tight, short “shirt,” which you’ll wear home and for several weeks afterwards. If I think it’s necessary, I will put a drain in each treated area to evacuate any fluid that otherwise would accumulate, so the chest heals as flat as possible.
If we have decided that a breast reduction is the best path, I will make incisions around the areola (nipple complex) and in the natural crease at the bottom of the breast. After I remove the excess tissue, I’ll confirm that both breasts look as equal as possible. Some patients benefit from tightening of the skin on the chest wall and, if you’re one of them, I will perform that as well. Tiny sutures are put in place “under the skin” to achieve the best scar possible. If necessary, a temporary drain will be put in each side. A compression garment is applied as well. After recuperating in the recovery area, you’re free to go home, with a friend or family member as your driver.
Recovery From Gynecomastia Treatment
Most of my Southwest Michigan gynecomastia patients do have some swelling and soreness after the procedure, whether they have had liposuction and/or surgical removal of their extra breast tissue. Ice packs are very effective, and few men require anything stronger than Tylenol. You’ll want to avoid exercise for the first few weeks and, if you have drains, those will be removed when no more fluid is coming out of them. You may have some bruising, which is normal, and disappears in a week or two. Most male breast reduction patients return to work or school after a couple of days at home. If you have surgical breast reduction, you may want to take a week off. You’ll see me in my Southwestern Michigan plastic surgery office within a couple days of your procedure. I’ll let you know how long you should wear the compression garment and when you can return to more vigorous activity.
Male breast reduction as a gynecomastia treatment will make you proud again of your masculine chest, and make you feel more confident in your appearance. Here at Southwest Michigan Plastic Surgery, we are committed to complete patient satisfaction through our professional and caring approach to each individual patient.