Everything You Should Know About Gynecomastia

When men grow breasts, a condition called gynecomastia, they’re embarrassed by their appearance and often feel physically uncomfortable.

Many men who come to Plastic Surgery Specialists of Boca Raton for help with enlarged breasts tell us that they avoid physical activities. Some even steer clear of sexual intimacy rather than revealing their chest.

If you develop gynecomastia, which is a very common problem, Rafael C. Cabrera, MD, FACS, and his team can help by medically treating the condition or with plastic surgery to eliminate the excess breast tissue and restore your masculine appearance.

Gynecomastia defined

Gynecomastia refers to enlarged breast tissue in men. The excess growth occurs in breast gland tissue, which is different from breasts that get larger due to fat as you gain weight.

In addition to bigger breasts, you may experience breast tenderness. Many men can also feel a rubbery mass around the nipple.

Breast cancer in men is rare, but anytime your breasts change in appearance, you should watch for symptoms that signal cancer. Possible cancer symptoms include a lump that’s tender, nipple discharge, changes in the skin on your breast, and pain in the nipple area.

Gynecomastia and hormonal imbalances

You develop gynecomastia when you have an imbalance in estrogen and testosterone. Men normally produce a small amount of estrogen, which they need to produce sperm and have a healthy sex drive.

When the balance gets upset and you have too much estrogen, the hormone triggers breast development. These hormonal changes occur at three predictable times in life:

Gynecomastia in infants

More than half of male infants have enlarged breasts when they’re born. This type of gynecomastia is caused by the mother’s estrogen, and the breast tissue disappears in 2-3 weeks after the baby is born.

Gynecomastia during puberty

Boys commonly develop breast tissue as they go through the normal hormonal changes of puberty. In this case, the extra breast tissue goes away in six months to two years.

Gynecomastia in adults

When gynecomastia occurs in adults, the condition doesn’t improve on its own. You need treatment to get rid of the excess breast tissue because it stems from many causes.

Causes of gynecomastia in adult men

Breast enlargement in adult men often occurs due to a gradual decrease in testosterone production, an increase in estrogen activity, and hypogonadism. Your risk of developing gynecomastia also increases if you have hyperthyroidism, problems with your pituitary gland, and kidney or liver failure.

Some frequently used medications are known to cause gynecomastia, including:

Additionally, abuse of opioids, amphetamines, marijuana, and alcohol can lead to gynecomastia.

How gynecomastia is treated

If an underlying condition caused your gynecomastia, treating that condition may partially or completely reverse your gynecomastia. Some men need to take medications to lower the impact of estrogen and restore hormonal balance.

Over time, the excess breast tissue changes and becomes more scar-like. When that happens, medical treatments are less likely to solve the problem. At that stage, your only treatment option is surgery.

Gynecomastia surgery restores your appearance

Gynecomastia surgery is an effective option for most men when medical therapy doesn’t work or when they just want to get rid of enlarged breasts and improve their appearance.

During your surgery, we may use liposuction to remove excess fat if needed. Then we remove the enlarged glandular tissues. In many cases, we need to reduce the size of the nipple and reposition it after we remove the excess tissue.

Each person heals at their own pace, but most men get back to work and return to light activities in 7-10 days. It typically takes 2-4 weeks to heal fully enough to tolerate strenuous activities.

Gynecomastia surgery makes a world of difference in your appearance, self-esteem, and willingness to engage in activities you enjoy. If you’re ready to take the steps to eliminate enlarged breasts, call Plastic Surgery Specialists of Boca Raton, or book an appointment online.

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