The appearance of breasts makes men feel self-conscious. However, this is a common medical condition called gynecomastia. With the help of an expert who understands the cause and symptoms of your condition, it can be treated. At Southwest Michigan Plastic and Hand Surgery in Portage, MI, we understand the potential causes of this condition and how to treat the symptoms depending on the cause.
We understand that male breasts develop differently than female breasts and gynecomastia can affect a man’s self-esteem negatively. We’re available to assist you with the exploration of your treatment methods via diagnosing the cause of your condition and helping you understand the unique benefits of each treatment method.
When Should You Consider Getting Treatment for Gynecomastia?
The first sign of this medical condition to appear is most commonly a small lump of excess adipose tissue beneath the nipples. Many men fear this is a sign of breast cancer; a common cancer that affects roughly one out of every hundred men. However, a small lump under the nipple may not be breast cancer. Rather, it may be a sign that you are developing male breasts. Feel free to speak to your general practitioner if you are worried you have breast cancer.
He may refer you to an oncologist to ease your anxiety. Boys who develop this condition while going through puberty may find the chest is tender to the touch. This discomfort can be managed easily with over-the-counter analgesics. Breasts usually look abnormally large and asymmetrical. Speaking with a professional and getting an accurate diagnosis is important to rule out other medical conditions.
How Often Does This Condition Occur?
The development of male breasts in adolescents is common. Swelling is a natural response to hormone changes. However, in the case of adolescents developing male breasts, the condition usually resolves itself after a year or two as hormone levels begin to settle. Roughly 50% of males between the age of 12 and 16 will experience swelling to some degree in one or both breasts.
Since male breasts caused by puberty will resolve themselves over time, there is no need for medical intervention. Unfortunately, approximately 25% of men between the ages of 50 and 80 will develop male breasts and the condition may lead to sore breast tissue. The older men get, the lower their testosterone levels drop. Among the causes of low testosterone in older men are:
- Testicular cancer
- Cancer treatments, like chemo or radiotherapy
- Unhealthy testicular cells
- Maladies that affect the brain
How Is This Condition Diagnosed?
We may need to run diagnostic tests to diagnose your condition accurately but we will definitely ask you many questions about your condition to get a complete picture of your case. We must be aware of your medical history and hereditary conditions your direct family members, like your siblings, parents, or grandparents, have. We will also perform a physical evaluation to assess your breast tissue and your abdominal and genital regions.
We also need a list of all herbal products, supplements, and drugs you are currently taking or have taken within the past couple of weeks. Furthermore, we need to know how old you were when you first started to notice a change in the size of your breasts. Finally, it is absolutely crucial that you clearly communicate any other symptoms, including discharge or pain.
What Diagnostic Tests Should I Expect?
To identify the cause of your condition, we will need blood samples, urine samples, and mammograms. These diagnostic tests are particularly helpful if your breasts are abnormally large. Depending on the initial results of these diagnostic tests, additional testing may be necessary. For example, you may need an MRI scan, a CT scan, a biopsy of your breast tissue, or an ultrasound of your testes to rule out certain causes for the development of your male breasts.
Our physicians will discuss the results of each test with you and explain the unique advantages of each treatment method. The goal of these diagnostic tests is to ensure the uncomfortable swelling you are experiencing is caused by the development of male breast tissue rather than adipose tissue, breast cancer, or other causes.
How Can This Condition Be Treated or Managed?
The longer you live with enlarged breasts, the more important it is to consider treatment. When we meet with you to evaluate your enlarged breasts, we will discuss your treatment preferences and design a treatment plan that accounts for your preferences, age, and overall health. Understand, each case is different and we work diligently to identify the cause of each case so we can offer the most successful treatment plan for each client.
As mentioned previously, it is incredibly common for adolescents to experience swollen breasts as they go through puberty but this change is not permanent and the best course of action is to wait for the swelling to resolve itself. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for boys to cope with having a feminine appearance. The thought of changing in the school locker room or swimming in the neighborhood pool can be difficult.
When they have no choice but to change before gym class, they may feel stress or develop depression or anxiety. If an adolescent is showing signs of mental health conditions, he should seek counseling. He should also be reminded that the changes to his body are a natural part of becoming a man and they will not last forever.
Discontinuing the Use of Certain Drugs
When older men develop enlarged breasts, the cause is often medications. The first step in treating male breasts in such cases is to discontinue the use of those drugs. If you are taking a prescription medication to treat a medical condition, ask your physician about alternative therapies that will not cause you to develop gynecomastia.
A trip to an endocrinologist is also in order if you need help with hormone-related issues. Furthermore, it is important to minimize your consumption of alcohol, especially beer. Most types of beer include phytoestrogen, a chemical derived from plants that has the same effect on men’s bodies as estrogen. It even causes the body to produce more estrogen, causing the development of male breasts.
If your male breasts are caused by low serum testosterone levels, you must receive treatment for your low testosterone. Luckily, there is testosterone replacement therapy to get your testosterone back up to where it needs to be so the condition does not recur. There are numerous testosterone therapy options, including injections, patches, and gels applied to your skin. Regardless of your lifestyle, there is a treatment option for you.
There are several ways testosterone therapy will help you besides preventing your male breasts from coming back. You will notice that you have more energy and a higher sex drive. Testosterone therapy can even treat mood disorders and improve your outlook on life. Furthermore, if your male breasts are caused by low testosterone, you may not need to undergo a procedure to restore your masculine physique.
In some cases, the most effective treatment method for excess male breast tissue is a cosmetic procedure. Male breast reduction can refer to one of two procedures that deliver a more masculine appearance by removing excess fat and glandular tissue. The results of these procedures last for years and may even provide results that last forever.
After your procedure or procedures, you can expect to feel a level of self-confidence that you haven’t felt in years. After assessing your physique, we will discuss these two options with you and help you understand the advantages of each based on your unique case.
If you have the appearance of male breasts due to a large amount of adipose tissue in your chest, liposuction is the best course of action for you. This procedure may be performed using local or general anesthesia depending on your health and personal preference. During this procedure, small incisions will be made on each side of your chest.
Then, a fine tube will be inserted into the incisions to loosen up the excess adipose tissue. Finally, it will be suctioned out of your body. We will also sculpt a natural-looking, masculine contour for your chest. Once the procedure is over, you need to wear a compression garment for two weeks to hasten the recovery process. You should also avoid strenuous exercise for roughly three weeks as you wrap up your recovery process.
Sometimes referred to as tissue excision, mastectomy involves the removal of glandular tissue from the chest. It is the most appropriate option for cases of extremely enlarged male breasts and strongly recommended when the breasts are accompanied by sagging skin. A large volume of excess fat tissue can also be removed during this procedure. Like liposuction, there is no need for an overnight hospital stay and it can be performed under general or local anesthesia.
You have some say in where the incisions will be made but the ideal incision locations are also influenced by your unique condition. Again, like liposuction, there is a recovery process but after approximately one week you should feel ready to return to your usual routine. However, you should not engage in any intense physical activity for at least 21 days following your procedure. After this procedure, you should see an instant enhancement in the appearance of your chest.
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Excess breast tissue in men can cause emotional turmoil. When left untreated, it often leads to low self-esteem. Although gynecomastia sometimes resolves itself, there are ways to treat the condition now if you don’t want to wait and see if it will improve. The longer you have lived with enlarged breasts, the more important it is to seek treatment. This is particularly true if you are in your 50s.
At Southwest Michigan Plastic and Hand Surgery, we have years of experience helping our clients treat their male breasts and restoring a masculine aesthetic. We have a strong passion for helping our clients choose the best treatment method for their unique needs. Call us at Southwest Michigan Plastic and Hand Surgery in Portage, MI to book an appointment and learn more about what we can do for you.