In an ideal world, women have breasts and men do not, but the many men suffering from gynecomastia know that reality isn’t always ideal. Gynecomastia is an enlargement of the breasts in men. It is very common and will affect about 40-60% of all men. Male breast reduction, or gynecomastia surgery, can eliminate this unwanted breast tissue for a flatter, more masculine chest. Learn about your options for male breast reduction in Chicago and then call our offices to schedule your consultation with Dr. Michael Epstein or Dr. Dan Krochmal.
The Many Causes of Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia can occur at any age but is commonly seen during three distinct phases of life: infancy, adolescence, and adulthood after age 50. Hormonal changes may trigger the development of breast tissue, causing the chest to expand. Genetics and lifestyle can also contribute to the development of this condition. Many of the known causes of gynecomastia are hormone related. Medications, medical conditions, and other factors can cause testosterone and estrogen to fall out of balance, leading to the growth of breast tissue.
- Medications- Some medications may change your hormonal balance. These medications include antibiotics, heart medications, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, AIDS medications, and anti-androgens. Talk with your doctor about your medications to find out if gynecomastia is a potential symptom. Sometimes changing your medications can resolve the problem without the need for surgery.
- Drugs and Alcohol- Drugs like marijuana, anabolic steroids, amphetamines, and heroin can cause gynecomastia. Alcohol is a common contributor to the problem.
- Medical Conditions- Some medical conditions can change the hormonal balance in the body and may cause breast tissue to develop. These medical conditions include Klinefelter’s syndrome, kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, and some types of tumors.
- Herbal Products- Products containing tea tree or lavender can have mild estrogenic activity and may cause gynecomastia. Tea tree and lavender are in many personal care products including lotions and shampoos.
- Aging or Puberty- Hormone levels change throughout life. These hormone fluctuations can cause gynecomastia. Breast tissue development is very common during puberty and can affect up to 70% of teen boys. Approximately 1 in 4 men over 50 have excess breast tissue.
Some men are able to successfully treat gynecomastia with lifestyle or medication changes. Time can also be an effective treatment option. Many men find the condition resolves within two years without treatment.
Treatment Options for Gynecomastia
Living with gynecomastia can be difficult. Many men report feeling embarrassed of their body. Some avoid taking their shirt off in public, causing them to miss out on water sports and summer fun. Our patients report being teased about their breasts. If lifestyle changes don’t resolve your gynecomastia, come into MAE Plastic Surgery. Male breast reduction is a fairly simple procedure that can create a world of difference in your self-esteem and appearance.
Gynecomastia is treated using a few different methods, depending on the composition of your breasts. We’ll explore your options and make treatment recommendations during your consultation. We typically treat gynecomastia with:
- Liposuction- If the breast is primarily fatty tissue, liposuction is our recommended treatment option. A small incision is made on or near the breast. A cannula is inserted into the tiny incision and suction is used to extract fat. Liposuction produces excellent results for patients with tight skin and little glandular tissue.
- Surgical Excision- If the breast contains glandular tissue, surgical excision is typically the best treatment option. An incision is placed at the bottom of the areola or in the underarm and breast tissue, fat, and sometimes excess skin are removed. Surgical excision takes 1-2 hours and can dramatically change the contour of the chest and upper body.
- Liposuction + Excision- If needed, we can combine these two treatment options, removing excess skin, fat, and tissue with surgical excision and using liposuction to shape and sculpt the upper body.
Gynecomastia treatment is typically performed on an outpatient basis. You’ll come in for surgery and return home the same day to recover. Come in for a consultation and we’ll discuss which option works best for you.
Recovery After Male Breast Reduction- What to Expect
Both liposuction and excision are surgical procedures and will require a recovery period. Clear your schedule for a few days and take it easy until you’re fully recovered. We’ll provide detailed recovery instructions before your procedure.
- Time Off from Work- Plan on missing 3-5 days of work, more if your job requires heavy lifting or strenuous physical activity.
- Post-Surgery Side Effects- Patients report discomfort, bruising, and swelling after gynecomastia surgery. Pain medication can help you to stay comfortable, especially the first few days after your procedure.
- Compression Garment- You’ll need to wear a compression garment for 3 weeks after surgery. This helps to improve healing and keeps skin and tissues tight for a flatter chest appearance.
- Returning to Full Activity- Most patients are back to full activity 4 weeks after surgery.
- Scarring- Scarring is usually minimal after male breast reduction. Incisions are carefully placed to camouflage scarring. For example, we often place incisions in the armpit or on the edge of areola where they are hidden by the color change. It can take time for the incisions to heal and the scars to fade. In the most extreme cases, incisions may need to be placed on the chest. This can lead to a visible scar, but most patients find the appearance of a flatter chest greatly outweighs any scarring that occurs.
It’s pool party season. If you find yourself skipping out on summer due to embarrassment because of gynecomastia, see us and learn about male breast reduction.