Men with breasts are often the butts of jokes and teens are teased. It is benign in the sense that it does not come with physical health risks, but it is far from benign regarding how it makes people feel about their bodies.
While gynecomastia can be very difficult for some men, it is correctable. In fact, for young people, it is relatively common and may correct itself. Adolescents dealing with this issue may find that the swelling goes down after the hormonal surges of puberty pass.
However, the emotional trauma suffered by males with breasts is very real and should not be ignored.
What Causes Male Breasts?
There are many ways that male breasts may develop. Any illness that interferes with normal testosterone production can be associated with gynecomastia. Hypogonadism is an example as are other metabolic disorders that come with aging. Kidney failure, cirrhosis, liver failure, hyperthyroidism, tumors and steroid use can all play a role, as well.
Gynecomastia in older men (50 – 69) is widespread with at least ¼ of the men in the age group affected. Male breasts during the teenage years are caused by hormone changes. The engorged breast tissue will usually subside without treatment. It is quite normal for male newborns to be born with it due to their mom’s estrogen. The breasts typically subside a few weeks after delivery.
Summary: Male breasts are brought on by a wide array of issues but are usually linked to hormonal problems, age or obesity.
What Are The Effects Of Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia can be traumatic and uncomfortable because it is tough to hide. It can also hinder romantic contact. During adolescence, gynecomastia can make boys a target for ridicule from peers. Simply taking one’s shirt off in front of others in the locker room by become traumatic.
Patients with gynecomastia score lower on quality of life assessments. Studies have shown that these men and boys have lower scores for general health, social functioning and mental health. The disorder is also correlated to lower scores for self-esteem.
Talk therapy and counseling can help patients avoid anxiety and depression and creating connections with other men who have the condition is very helpful in feeling less alone.
Summary: Gynecomastia can have devastating emotional and psycho-social effects on men and boys.
What Is Gynecomastia Surgery?
In the simplest terms, gynecomastia surgery is male breast reduction. There are two treatment options:
Liposuction: The procedure involves a small cut on each side of the chest through which the doctor removes surplus fat while sculpting a new chest.
Mastectomy: The tissue is cut from the body. Incisions are typically peri-areolar – which means that they are located around the edge of the areola. This minimizes scarring.
Summary: Gynecomastia has two treatment options – liposuction or mastectomy.
When Should I Consider Male Breast Reduction?
Gynecomastia generally regresses on its own in less than 24 months. No medical interventions are necessary. However, if gynecomastia is triggered by a causal condition, you need to talk with your clinician. Action may be required if it causes major discomfort, sensitivity or embarrassment. Your doctor will check your breast inflammation in order to make sure that it is gynecomastia and not an alternative problem, such as:
- Fatty breast tissue
- Breast cancer
- A breast abscess (mastitis)
Summary: If your gynecomastia is deeply troubling you, see a medical professional.
What If My Teenage Son Wants The Surgery?
Your adolescent son may have developed excess breast tissue due to hormonal changes or weight gain during puberty. This is embarrassing and troubling for most kids. However, it is much more normal and common than a lot of people realize and medical intervention is rarely necessary.
Most of the time, the swelling will go down on its own after puberty. If your son asks about surgery, consider bringing him to see a doctor but the likelihood is low that he or she will refer your child for surgery.
Routine assessment by an endocrinologist and laboratory tests to measure hormone levels aren’t necessary in most adolescent boys with gynecomastia because “watching and waiting” for the teen to grow is sufficient. Since breast enlargement often resolves with time, referrals for breast reduction surgery are infrequent unless the problem continues beyond age 16.
Summary: Unless the problem is very severe or the condition persists into the late teens, surgery is rarely necessary.
What If I Decide Against Gynecomastia Surgery?
Male breast reduction is not for everyone. You may not feel comfortable with the procedure and/or your doctor may advise against it. As mentioned before, it is benign and will not hurt you physically.
However, be self-aware and pay attention to your emotional well-being. If you feel depressed or anxious about your gynecomastia or if you are not as confident as you would like to be, seek out a mental health professional. There is no reason you can’t find ways to live a full life without getting the surgery.
Summary: If you decide not to have the surgery, it is advisable to seek out a mental health provider.
The most common concern of men with gynecomastia is aesthetics; they don’t want breasts. They may even feel inadequate as men. The emotional impact of this condition cannot be underestimated as it can be traumatic for many males. Some men and boys try chest exercises, nutritional changes and more in an effort to get rid of the surplus fat but these things are not likely to help.
Dr. Khan’s responsibility is to address the main concerns of his patients. He develops a customized plan for the needs of each patient and he has earned the trust of many local men and women through his commitment to patient-centered care. Contact us today for your free consultation or give us a call 734-419-1615!
Dr. Shaher Khan
26850 Providence Pkwy
Novi, MI 48374