At Centre for Surgery, our plastic surgeons have been carrying out gynecomastia surgery in London for several years now, and we carry out quite a lot of these types of male breast reduction procedures. If you’ve never heard of gynaecomastia or were even aware that there is an effective procedure for its correction, then we thought the best solution is to give you the full lowdown on this condition and its treatment.
What is gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is a condition of the breast that affects a significant number of men. It has been estimated that between 40 to 60% of men will develop a degree of gynecomastia at some point in their lifetime. Gynecomastia refers to when the breast tissue becomes overdeveloped in some way and for which there is no known cause. Gynecomastia itself is not thought to be linked with being overweight or having a hormonal imbalance.
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As many men have discovered, having a good diet and exercising regularly does not lead to a cure for gynecomastia. In many cases, more vigorous exercise and muscle building make the condition appear even more obvious as the underlying increased pectoral muscle bulk causes the excess breast tissue to appear even bigger than usual.
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From our experience, gynaecomastia can have a major impact on men’s lives. Our surgeons have met men whose condition has socially crippled with an inability to expose their chest and therefore be unable to go on sunny beach holidays. They will often wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid the chest appearing more prominent, which can have a major impact on personal relationships.
Fortunately, there is a very effective treatment for gynecomastia in the form of surgery. No known non-surgical treatments for gynecomastia have been shown to be effective.
What causes gynecomastia?
Gynaecomastia is a condition characterised by the enlargement of male breast tissue, leading to a feminised chest appearance. Several factors contribute to the development of this condition. Understanding these triggers can provide a broader perspective on gynaecomastia and aid in formulating an effective treatment plan.
Hormonal Imbalances: The Primary Instigator
One of the leading causes of gynaecomastia is hormonal imbalance. Hormones like testosterone and oestrogen dictate the development of secondary sexual characteristics in males and females. Typically, men have higher testosterone levels and lower oestrogen levels. However, if the balance skews towards more oestrogen and less testosterone, this can lead to the growth of breast tissue.
This hormonal flux can occur naturally during life stages such as puberty or old age. However, conditions like obesity can exacerbate these hormonal shifts. Excess body fat can contribute to higher oestrogen levels, subsequently leading to enlarged breast tissue.
Health Conditions: Unseen Contributors
Various health conditions can potentially trigger gynecomastia. These include:
- Obesity: Apart from disrupting hormone levels, excessive body fat can result in the accumulation of fat in the chest area, enhancing the appearance of breasts.
- Genetic or Chromosomal Disorders: Certain genetic conditions like Klinefelter’s syndrome can lead to gynecomastia.
- Kidney Failure: Renal diseases often lead to hormonal imbalances, potentially triggering gynecomastia.
- Liver Diseases: Conditions such as cirrhosis can cause hormonal fluctuations.
- Malnutrition and Starvation: When the body is deprived of adequate nutrients, testosterone levels drop, but oestrogen levels remain the same, causing a hormonal imbalance.
- Hypogonadism: Conditions that interfere with the production of testosterone, such as Kallmann syndrome or pituitary insufficiency, can result in gynecomastia.
- Hyperthyroidism: When the thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine, it can lead to gynecomastia.
Medication and Drug Use: The Unintended Side-Effects
Certain medications may also contribute to gynecomastia. These include antibiotics, heart medications, AIDS medications, anti-androgens, antidepressants, and ulcer medications. Anabolic steroids, commonly used by athletes and bodybuilders, can also lead to breast enlargement in males. If you’re on any of these medications and experience changes in breast size, it’s crucial to consult your medical team immediately.
In addition to prescribed medications, substance abuse can also lead to gynecomastia. Alcohol and narcotics like marijuana, methadone, and heroin can disrupt hormonal balance and contribute to the development of male breasts.
What is the best technique for gynecomastia surgery?
The traditional method for removing excess male breast tissue involved making a large incision across the whole chest. Unfortunately, the scar that was left after surgery often compounded the original problem, leading to a further reduction in body confidence, with many men being unable to remove their shirts on the beach.
Over time and with advances in plastic surgery techniques, our surgeons are experts in minimally invasive approaches to treating gynecomastia. Our surgeons’ current techniques minimise visible scarring and provide more natural-looking results. Often, the tiny incisions that are used are on the side of the chest and around half of the nipple and are barely visible over time. The treatment principle for gynecomastia involves a combination of liposuction and gland excision for full correction. The surgeon can remove all of the extra glandular tissue directly under direct vision through a tiny peri-areolar incision. Long-term results often give rise to a natural-looking appearance that is not overdone and often without any signs of surgery.
Surgery for gynecomastia is a highly satisfying procedure for our plastic surgeons as the treatment really can transform men’s lives. Our surgeons are at the forefront of pioneering new and less invasive techniques for gynaecomastia and were one of the first clinics in London to use BodyTite for minimally invasive skin tightening of the male chest. Our surgeons regularly share their skills and experience with visiting surgeons from all over the world as well as presenting their research at international conferences on the latest surgical techniques for gynecomastia.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can transform your life, contact one of our experienced and knowledgeable patient care coordinators to book a consultation with an expert plastic surgeon at Centre for Surgery in London.