Gynecomastia is more commonly referred to as ‘man boobs’ or enlarged male breasts. This is caused by enlarged gland tissues within the male breast. This is most common during infancy or puberty, however, it can appear during adulthood and be a life-long condition. This can be present in one or both of the breasts. Gynecomastia will generally not cause any physical pain, however, you may experience some sensitivity or tenderness.
This should be distinguished from pseudogynecomastia, which is fatty deposits but without the enlarged gland tissues.
What causes gynecomastia?
There are numerous reasons why gynecomastia develops. This includes:
- Hormone imbalances: producing more oestrogen than testosterone will cause the enlargement of the breasts
- Obesity: this increases the levels of oestrogen, causing the breasts to grow. Losing weight may not necessarily treat the gynecomastia
- Puberty: most pubescent males will have some form of gynecomastia, as the hormone levels will be unstable
- Newborns: gynecomastia can be temporarily present as oestrogen is passed directly from the mother to baby
- Medicines: side effects of particular medicine may cause gynecomastia
- Illegal drugs and alcohol: consuming too much alcohol, taking illegal drugs or anabolic steroids can trigger gynecomastia
- Certain medical conditions: kidney failure, cirrhosis of the liver or testicular cancer can cause gynecomastia
However, in some men, the cause may remain unknown. If you think you have gynecomastia, it is important to consult your general practitioner in order to find out what is causing it.
Who can have treatment for gynecomastia?
Prior to having male breast reduction surgery, you should try and lose weight through a healthy diet and exercise regime. You will also need to stop smoking up to six weeks prior to undergoing surgery, and avoid smoking directly after the procedure. This will help avoid any complications you may experience during the recovery period.
There is no set age for this procedure – anyone over 18 years old is eligible. However, it is important to keep your skin elasticity in mind. Older men will have less skin elasticity and therefore may not experience results as satisfactory as younger patients.
Treatment for gynecomastia is not always necessary if it was caused by puberty, as this will generally resolve itself within three years.
How is gynecomastia treated?
There is a range of treatment options for gynecomastia. Medication is sometimes considered an option. However, the enlarged tissue may become scarred, making medication useless. However, if these methods do not work, you may wish to have a surgical male breast reduction.
The most common method for male breast reduction involves a method of liposuction known as PAL lipo. This is an advanced liposuction method that is far safer than older, traditional methods.
Unlike other methods, PAL lipo involves no heat. This means there is less damage to the skin and tissue, meaning there are fewer side effects during the recovery period. PAL lipo involves three stages:
- The fat globules are separated – this helps to avoid damaging the blood vessels and stromal network.
- An incision is made – in the case of gynecomastia, the incision is made under the armpit. A small cannula is inserted and the fat is removed.
- The remaining layer of fat is equalised, to help give you more natural, smooth results.
While some of the enlarged gland tissues can be removed using the PAL lipo method, most of them will require surgical excision.
What is gynecomastia recovery like?
After the procedure is complete, you will be able to return home the same day, once the effects of the anaesthetic have worn off.
You will experience some pain and discomfort, which can be managed with appropriate medication. You will be unable to drive for the first 24 hours. You will also have to avoid any strenuous physical activity for the first five days. You will be able to exercise again after six weeks, and your normal day-to-day activities after three weeks.
It is normal to experience some bruising and swelling. However, you will be given a garment which you will be required to wear for at least three days, which will help to reduce the bruising and swelling.
Do you want treatment for your gynecomastia? Centre for Surgery has surgical options. Contact us today to find out more or to book a consultation.