Gynecomastia or enlargement of male breast tissue can be quite a humbling experience in California. The warm weather around the Sacramento Valley is often better tolerated with your shirt off in the pool. Gynecomastia most commonly affects pubescent boys and middle aged men. It is most commonly due to idiopathic causes. Sometimes it can be secondary to marijuana, alcohol, testicular cancer, liver disease, or medications. Sometimes it also seen in body builders or athletes after a cycle of anabolic steroids. Whenever there is an imbalance of estrogen (which stays in the blood stream longer) to testosterone (which is converted to estrogen) the breast tissue is stimulated to grow. Once the tissue has grown it rarely regresses and can often be seen through a t-shirt.
This male breast tissue (gynecomastia) is also often surrounded by fatty tissue that makes the area even more noticeable – especially over a muscular chest. Socially, this can be difficult for young men to handle and they often avoid taking off their shirt, sports, or swimming to avoid the teasing that is often associated with a larger chest.
If this happens to you or someone you know, it may be time to consult your plastic surgeon. Today more than ever, plastic surgery is being used to allow people to achieve the look they desire and enjoy life to its fullest. The first thing to check is to make sure there is not a cause for the breast enlargement. In older males, this can be a new medicine, consuming excess marijuana or alcohol, or stopping the anabolic steroid cycles. In young males, pituitary adrenal and testicular growths are evaluated. Additional lab tests are available if indicated as determined by your plastic surgeon. Once the non-idiopathic causes are ruled out, treatment options can be discussed.
Usually the chest can be contoured through minimally invasive methods of ultrasonic liposuction and sometimes excision. Excision of the excess glandular tissue of the breast and skin of the male breast can be done through a small hidden incision in the nipple or through endoscopic means through a small incision in the axilla using microscopes and cameras. Liposuction is then used to feather the contour enhancement. Once the shape desired is achieved, a compression garment is worn until the swelling has resolved.
The procedure usually takes an hour and a half and is done as an outpatient. Most patients return to work in three to five days and are back in the gym in three to four weeks. The final contour is seen usually within three months when the skin takes the shape of the underlying muscle. The results can be truly dramatic. See your friendly Sacramento Plastic surgeon today if you have or know someone who might benefit from gynecomastia reduction.