It is generally thought that between 30 to 60% of men have some type of gynaecomastia which is also known as male breast enlargement or “man boobs”. Many people may be surprised how common the condition is although it can cause men significant distress leading to a reduction in self-confidence.
There are a number of different causes of a Gynaecomastia and in some instances, there is thought to be no clear cause for the condition. There are a number of recognised causes of gynaecomastia, the most common of which is a hormonal imbalance that involves the overproduction of oestrogen and this results in an overproduction of breast tissue.
Gynaecomastia is very common during puberty which it can affect up to 30% of adolescents and this is most often due to the significant hormonal changes that occur during this period. Gynaecomastia that develops during puberty in most cases settles down completely once the hormonal imbalance has been corrected however in a small number of cases it may persist. Gynaecomastia occurs across all age groups and becomes particularly prevalent in men who are aged over 50 which is when hormonal changes start to take place again.
Gynaecomastia occurs most commonly in certain age groups such as adolescence and those aged over 50 but it is also known to develop at any age. Regardless of whether someone is slim or large or younger or older, gynaecomastia can occur. We commonly see very fit men who may carry out regular bodybuilding who have varying degrees of gynaecomastia.
Can exercise prevent gynaecomastia?
Gynaecomastia is a frequently misunderstood condition and many people think that exercise can prevent or even cure gynaecomastia. The answer to this is no, we see many men who are in fantastic shape who still have gynaecomastia and this includes professional athletes and bodybuilders.
Another false idea is that exercise can actually lead to gynaecomastia. In some men, the condition of gynaecomastia can often resemble a highly developed chest musculature that leads many people to think that excessive exercise or bodybuilding can result in the formation of excess male breast tissue.
With men who have excess breast tissue or enlarged male breasts, it should be remembered that this is not due to an increased muscle bulk but that is actually due to either an excess of fatty tissue or excessive glandular tissue and most commonly is a combination of both. Having dealt with the misconception that exercise causes gynaecomastia, it is important to bear in mind however that recreational substances such as anabolic steroids can actually cause gynaecomastia so we would always recommend all men to avoid these substances and build muscle mass through natural means at the gym.
Exercise will not lead to a reduction in male breast enlargement and it does not matter whether you exercise every day and eat very sensibly, excess glandular tissue will remain. Excessive glandular tissue will not decrease with exercise, however, men who have excessive body fat on the chest wall may see a significant improvement with exercise. The only way to correct gynaecomastia caused by glandular enlargement is with surgical removal of the excess tissue.
Some men may attempt vigorous regular exercise as a potential solution to treating existing gynaecomastia although this often leads to increased muscle bulk in the chest which accentuates the appearance of gynaecomastia. This can be a significant source of disappointment for many men to find attempting a potential treatment only leads to worsening the appearance of their gynaecomastia.
Male breast reduction surgery for the treatment of Gynaecomastia
Regardless of how physically fit you may be, the condition of gynaecomastia can lead to a lot of mental anguish for many men which lead to a significant reduction in self-confidence. This may affect the types of clothes men may wear particularly at the beach where they may avoid removing their T-shirts. The condition may also have an impact on personal relationships. Fortunately, there is an excellent treatment in the form of surgery which is minimally invasive in nature and can be carried out as a day case at Centre for Surgery in London.
Our surgeons carry out many gynaecomastia procedures each year and have refined their techniques over time to reduce the amount of scarring. In some cases of gynaecomastia, our surgeons can make a very tiny incision on the outer part of the chest so you’ll have virtually no scarring.
The actual type of treatment to be carried out depends on whether men have an excess of glandular tissue or an excess of fatty tissue. In situations where men have an excess of both then a combination of liposuction with surgical excision is the best treatment. The first part of the procedure involves liposuction to remove the fat and contour the chest followed by a small incision around the areola which permits access to surgically remove the excess glandular tissue. In severe cases of gynaecomastia which has resulted in skin excess, your surgeon may also remove redundant skin with techniques similar to an areola reduction to tighten the chest and can also combine this with BodyTite radiofrequency skin tightening.
The male breast reduction procedure takes between one to 2 hours to carry out and is most commonly performed under general anaesthetic although can also be carried out under local anaesthetic for milder degrees of gynaecomastia. We recommend that patients take one week off work and avoid any exercise or bodybuilding for a minimum of six weeks after the procedure.
If you think you may have gynaecomastia, the best way to determine this would be to have a face-to-face consultation with one of our specialist plastic surgeons who have years of experience in treating all types of gynaecomastia. The specific type of gynaecomastia you have can only be properly assessed with a thorough physical examination combined with a full medical history which then could give you an idea of the treatment options available for your condition as every man is different.
If gynaecomastia is something that has been bothering you for some time, we recommend you give us a call and speak to one of our friendly and knowledgeable patient coordinators who will be able to book you in to see an expert plastic surgeon in London for treatment of “man boobs”.