What Can Be Done About Gynecomastia?
In a culture where masculinity is often associated with a fit, trim and muscular physique, the development of male breasts can be both humiliating and emasculating. While it is estimated that up to 50 percent of men in the U.S. will experience some degree of gynecomastia, or male breasts, during their lifetime, most men agree that breasts on their body are never welcome. If the development of male breasts has taken a toll on your self-confidence or keeps you from participating in the activities you love, it may be time to explore what can be done about your gynecomastia.
What Causes Gynecomastia?
Many people are quick to write-off overdeveloped male breasts as a symptom of being overweight or obese. While some men do develop prominent breasts as a result of excessive weight gain, this is not considered to be true gynecomastia. True gynecomastia is caused by the enlargement of the breast’s glandular tissues, and no amount of exercise or weight loss will reduce breast tissue with this condition. Pseudogynecomastia is a related condition in which localized excess fat accumulates in the breast area in obese men, and may be reduced through traditional weight loss methods or liposuction. So what causes true gynecomastia?
All women and men are born with breast glands; however, in most cases, they are not noticeable in men because they remain undeveloped. This is because of the hormones that control the development and maintenance of sex characteristics in both males and females—testosterone and estrogen. Many think of testosterone as the male sex hormone due to its control over male traits like muscle mass and estrogen as the female sex hormone for its control over feminine characteristics like breast development. But testosterone and estrogen are produced in both men and women; however, estrogen is produced in much smaller quantities for men.
The primary underlying cause of gynecomastia is the presence of high estrogen levels in relation to testosterone levels in the male body. When estrogen levels exceed testosterone levels in men, it can lead to the development of feminine characteristics such as increased breast tissue growth and the retention of pectoral fat. Gynecomastia is especially prevalent in pubescent boys and older men due to their natural hormonal changes. While gynecomastia caused by puberty usually resolves itself in time without treatment, as many as one in four men between the ages of 50 and 80 will be affected by gynecomastia that persists due to naturally declining testosterone levels.
What Causes High Estrogen Levels in Men?
Both estrogen and testosterone levels will rise and fall throughout a man’s life, but if testosterone levels become lower than estrogen levels or estrogen levels spike, physical symptoms like male breasts can become apparent. Several different factors that can contribute to high levels of estrogen in men, including:
- Aging: The natural aging process will cause a gradual decline in testosterone levels and may cause estrogen to become the dominant hormone and result in gynecomastia.
- Medications: Certain medications such as antibiotics, anti-anxiety medications, heart medications, anabolic steroids and some herbal remedies may contribute to gynecomastia.
- Obesity: Excess body fat increases levels of estrogen in the body and can contribute to gynecomastia.
- Medical Conditions: Conditions such as hypogonadism, hyperthyroidism, kidney or liver failure, tumors and malnutrition can cause gynecomastia by affecting the normal balance of hormones in the body.
Drug Use: Substances such as alcohol, amphetamines, marijuana, heroin and methadone can all cause gynecomastia.
What Are My Treatment Options For Gynecomastia?
If your gynecomastia does not resolve on its own and is not the result of an underlying health condition or medication you are taking, you may consider surgical intervention. Gynecomastia surgery is an ideal solution for gynecomastia that causes significant pain, tenderness or poor self-image. As there are currently no medications explicitly FDA-approved for the treatment of male gynecomastia, male breast reduction is the only effective treatment for gynecomastia that has long-lasting and even permanent results.
Breasts are composed of both glandular tissue, which is firm and dense, and fatty tissue which is soft and flexible. The ratio between glandular tissue and fatty tissue will vary from patient to patient, but gynecomastia can cause too much of both types of these tissues in men. The type of tissue present in your male breasts will help determine which treatment option will yield the best results for you and your goals. At Daniel Man, M.D., Dr. Man offers the following solutions for eliminating excess breast tissues:
- Liposuction: In cases where gynecomastia or pseudogynecomastia is primarily the result of excess fatty tissue, liposuction techniques alone may be performed. Liposuction is a minimally-invasive procedure that inserts a thin, hollow tube known as a cannula through small incisions to loosen stubborn fat cells gently. The cannula is attached to a vacuum system that suctions the dislodged fat out of the body for a flatter and firmer chest contour.
- Excision: In cases where gynecomastia is the result of excess glandular tissue or excess, stretched skin, excision techniques are used to remove these tissues and sculpt a more masculine chest. Excision is also used when the size of the areola has to be reduced, or the nipple needs to be repositioned to create a more natural-looking male contour.
- Liposuction and Excision: Dr. Man may use a combination of liposuction and excision techniques if both excess glandular tissue and excess fatty tissue are present in the breasts. In these cases, Dr. Man will typically utilize Tickle Lipo™, which uses a special vibrating cannula for seamless fat removal and skin-tightening benefits.
If gynecomastia is causing your self-image and self-confidence to suffer, gynecomastia surgery at Daniel Man, M.D. can help you to restore your masculine figure and improve your quality of life. To discover more about your gynecomastia treatment options, contact the office of Daniel Man, M.D. at 561-258-9593 to schedule your in-person consultation with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Man today.