Gynecomastia is a medical condition that causes men to have swollen or enlarged breasts. It is caused by excessive tissue under the breasts and may also involve some tenderness and pain. Far from a rare or uncommon condition, gynecomastia impacts about 20 percent of U.S. men.
Often, men assume that their gynecomastia symptoms are related to simple weight gain and can thus be treated with a rigorous diet or consistent exercise. The reality is a little more complicated than that. Often, weight loss alone is insufficient for dealing with gynecomastia.
What Causes Gynecomastia?
It is true that some men who put on weight may find that their breasts become enlarged by fatty tissue. For these men, losing weight and getting into better shape can improve their aesthetic appearance. However, these instances are sometimes called “false gynecomastia” and are distinct from cases of true, clinical gynecomastia.
Typically, gynecomastia is associated with changes in hormones. For this reason, males often develop gynecomastia during puberty, or as the result of hormonal changes that occur mid-life. Gynecomastia may result from a combination of rising estrogen levels and declining testosterone.
For some men, these hormonal changes are the result of certain medications or medical treatments. Antidepressants, antibiotics, and chemotherapy treatments can all affect hormone levels, and thus may play a role in the development of gynecomastia.
There are also different diseases and medical conditions that can impact hormone levels, potentially resulting in gynecomastia. Some of the most common examples include:
Because gynecomastia is typically the result of hormonal changes, simply losing weight is usually not an effective form of treatment. In fact, the best way to address gynecomastia is with male breast reduction surgery. This is a very common procedure in which a surgeon will remove excess fat and tissue, resulting in a flat, masculine-looking chest and torso.
With that said, men who have been diagnosed with gynecomastia should not be deterred from healthy eating, vigorous exercise, and weight loss. Adopting a healthier lifestyle can greatly enhance their post-surgery appearance, providing their chest muscles with greater toning and definition.
Indeed, as you think about treating gynecomastia, the best way to optimize your results is to combine the following steps:
Maintain a healthy body weight.
Exercise regularly to tone muscles.
Find a qualified plastic surgeon who can perform male breast reduction surgery.
Do I Need to Treat Gynecomastia?
It should also be noted that not all men with gynecomastia need treatment at all. For males who develop gynecomastia during puberty, the condition usually resolves on its own, without the need for treatment. Gynecomastia surgery is typically not recommended for males who are still in their teen years.
Additionally, if the symptoms of gynecomastia are linked with a particular medication, the best option may be to simply discontinue that medication. Talk to your doctor about alternative options. Through medication cessation, the symptoms of gynecomastia will usually resolve on their own.
Seeking a Gynecomastia Diagnosis
The best way to confirm your need for gynecomastia surgery, and find out more about viable treatment options, is to schedule a consultation with a triple board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. J. Hopkins. He has years of experience diagnosing and treating this condition with male breast reduction surgery. To schedule a consultation, contact our practice at your convenience.