Gynecomastia is a condition that causes swelling or enlargement of the breast tissue in boys or men. It is mostly a result of hormonal imbalance in a man’s body when there is an excessive amount of estrogen compared to testosterone. Often seen during puberty in developing young boys, when hormonal activity is significantly increased, it is not uncommon during infancy when the baby breast-feeds and consequently ingests high levels of the mother’s hormones through breast milk.
Gynecomastia has also been seen in increasing incidences with middle-aged to older men. In adults, gynecomastia may also be a side effect of certain medications, such as some antibiotics, some hypertensive drugs, anti-ulcer drugs, and anti-androgen drugs. Drug abuse of certain substances such as heroin, marijuana, or alcohol, as well as conditions such as liver cirrhosis, kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, malnutrition, and testicular cancer may also may also result in gynecomastia.
How is gynecomastia diagnosed?
In most cases, a thorough physical examination is needed to properly diagnose the condition. Blood tests will also be carried out in order to assess thyroid, kidney and liver function in affected patients. These tests will also give the doctors the measurement of the levels of hormones present in the patient’s bloodstream.
Gynecomastia is almost always misconstrued in overweight men as fat deposits around the breast tissue. However, gynecomastia causes the actual glandular tissue that is generally centralized around the patient’s nipples to enlarge, and there is often an absence of fat.
What treatments are available for gynecomastia?
In most cases, gynecomastia disappears on its own in boys, about six months or so after they reach puberty.
If conventional drug therapy or watchful waiting is not successful, excision of the breast tissue may be performed under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. This is a surgical procedure that reduces the size of male breast tissues in cases of severe or long-term gynecomastia.
Is gynecomastia surgery right for me?
To determine whether or not gynecomastia surgery is the right procedure for you, schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons.
In addition to deciding on your treatment plan, your doctor will also ask you about your medical history. Bring a list of medications, supplements and vitamins you take, and have a list prepared of the questions or concerns you may have, as being open with our specialists is key to a safe and successful surgery.