Gynecomastia 101

Understanding Oversized Male Breasts and the Procedures to Treat Them

The condition of oversized breasts in men is called gynecomastia. Gyne is derived from Latin terminology referring to females and mastia signifies breasts. This term is only used when the fat and/or glandular tissue of a male breast is abnormally large.

There are multiple possible causes of gynecomastia, but essentially all of them lead to some imbalance in the normal proportions of estrogen and testosterone that a man has in his body. This is why certain conditions like cirrhosis of the liver, obesity, the use of marijuana and other medications, and certain genetic disorders are linked to this condition.

The ultimate problem with gynecomastia is the psychological damage that occurs in many young men with this condition. It can be emotionally devastating as many young men with this condition can develop feelings of shame, embarrassment and humiliation. Common life experiences such as being at the beach or undressing in a locker room can become difficult or avoided altogether.

While sometimes there can be a reduction in breast size by stopping or reversing the underlying cause, surgery is really the best solution for many. There are several different ways to surgically treat gynecomastia. The procedure of choice selected is based on the severity and type of breast enlargement.

When the problem is primarily fat growth and the skin envelope is not excessive, then liposuction alone can often take care of the problem.

However, when an over development of glandular tissue is the source of the over-sized breast then direct excision of the excessive gland is necessary.  Often times there is a combination of excessive fat and glandular tissue, and in this case it would be best to perform liposuction and direct excision of glandular tissue.

Most of the time the skin of the breast will adequately contract after the underlying breast tissue has been reduced. It’s necessary that the patient wears a compression garment after the surgery, for many weeks, to help direct this skin contraction process and shape the new male chest wall.

While it is not often, there are patients that present with too much skin to rely on the contraction process alone.  Surgical removal of the redundant skin would then be a part of the surgical treatment.