While some women will do anything to make their breasts look larger, from wearing push-up bras to having breast augmentation surgery, men strive for the opposite. A flat chest is typically a masculine trait and desirable on a man. Still, some men develop a condition called gynecomastia, or enlarged breast tissue. Usually, the condition occurs because the breast gland becomes bigger. In some cases, a man can have excess fat on the chest that makes the breast look bigger.
Gynecomastia can affect one or both breasts at the same time. No matter how much the breasts grow, it can be embarrassing for a man. Depending on his age, the condition can lead to teasing. Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options, from finding the cause of the breast growth, to surgery, that can restore a flat chest.
Understanding the Causes
Gynecomastia can happen to a man at any age. In some cases, newborn babies have the condition, as they are exposed to high levels of estrogen from their mother. Usually, enlarged breast tissue on babies decreases in size a few weeks after birth.
The condition tends to also affect boys who are going through puberty, thanks to fluctuating levels of hormones. Gynecomastia tends to occur when a male has higher levels of estrogen compared to testosterone. Usually, when the condition occurs during puberty, it goes away on its own after a few months or years.
Gynecomastia can also occur in adult males. There are a number of factors that can cause the condition in adults, ranging from medications, taking certain drugs, and drinking a lot of alcohol to using certain herbal supplements.
In some cases, medical treatment is all that is needed to reverse gynecomastia and decrease breast size in men. If the enlarged breasts are caused by a condition such as cirrhosis of the liver, hyperthyroidism or hypogonadism, treating the underlying condition may reduce the size of the breasts.
When the condition is caused by drugs, stopping use of the drug can reduce the size of the breast tissue, as well. Street drugs including marijuana can often cause enlarged breast tissue in men, as can steroids and speed. Prescription medications can also trigger the condition, including antidepressants, medications used to treat an enlarged prostate, and certain antibiotics.
Depending on the cause of the enlarged breasts and their size, surgical options might be the best treatment. One option is liposuction, if the enlarged breast size is due to extra fat alone, not extra breast tissue. Liposuction is less invasive procedure than full breast reduction and results in less scarring than other surgical options.
During the procedure, the surgeon typically injects the breasts with a solution that reduces pain and bleeding. He or she then makes small incisions and inserts a tube to suction out the extra fat. The incision is typically made by the armpit or beneath the areola.
Breast Reduction Surgery
If a man’s breasts are considerably enlarged or if breast tissue, as well as fat, is present, he may need surgery to reduce their size. In some cases, the surgery can be performed to remove the extra breast tissue only, while any extra fat is removed by liposuction. If the man has very large breasts due to extra fat and enlarged breast tissue and if the skin has lost a considerable amount of elasticity, breast reduction surgery may be needed not only to reduce the size of the breasts but also to lift the area and remove extra, loose skin.
Usually, a man will be able to notice that his chest is smaller right after the surgery. But, it might take up to a year before final results are visible.
Both liposuction and surgery involve some downtime. A patient may need to take about a week off from work. He should expect to take it easy for another few weeks after that, avoiding exercise and other strenuous activity.
As with any plastic surgery, the healthier a patient is, the lower his risk for complications. Patients should stop smoking a few weeks before either a breast reduction or liposuction. The surgeon will review a patient’s medical history and make sure he is in good enough health before performing the procedure.
If you are a man who is dealing with enlarged breasts and who wants to do something about it, Dr. George Bitar can help. To learn more about your options, schedule a consultation at his practice in the Washington, DC, area today. Call (703) 206-0506 for your appointment.
George Bitar, MD, FACS is an award-winning, board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon, the Founder and Medical Director of Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Virginia. He specializes in the latest surgical and minimally invasive techniques to scar management and reduction. Dr. Bitar is involved in groundbreaking research and education in plastic surgery and has authored numerous articles, abstracts, and chapters.