What is gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is a condition in men where the breast tissue is overdeveloped or enlarged. This results in excess breast tissue and may affect one or both breasts. Gynecomastia affects men of all ages; enlarged male breasts can develop in young boys from as early as puberty and can occur well into adulthood.

Enlarged male breasts are very common. It’s believed that around half of all men suffer from gynecomastia to some degree, although most never do anything about it or even realize that their enlarged breasts are a condition to begin with. Gynecomastia is a word of Greek origin meaning “woman-like breasts.” Since full breasts are associated with femininity, gynecomastia can have a profound impact on many men’s self-esteem and body image.

What are the causes of gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is common and well documented in teenage boys. In fact, three-quarters of all teenage boys have gynecomastia to some degree.

Enlarged male breasts are almost always a direct result of puberty, when estrogen and testosterone levels are thrown off balance, leading to enlarged male breasts. Excess breast tissue in boys often happens alongside acne and other teenage issues associated with puberty. Luckily for most, once puberty ends, the breasts often return to a normal shape and size on their own.

For some, however, gynecomastia can persist through adulthood. It’s also common for middle-aged and older men to notice breast enlargement where there may have been none before. Men, like women, experience a fluctuation in hormones during their later years, which can contribute to the formation of excess breast tissue.

There are other causes of gynecomastia. Steroids, antibiotics, anti-anxiety medications, heartburn treatment drugs, tricyclic antidepressants and AIDS treatment drugs are all medications linked to breast enlargement in men. Steroids, in particular, are linked to enlarged breast development in men due to their hormonal makeup. Heavy drinking and marijuana use are also thought to be causes of male breast enlargement.

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Who is a good candidate for male breast reduction?

Before deciding if a patient is a candidate for male breast reduction, it’s important to identify the underlying causes. If a man’s enlarged breasts are due to weight gain, then the first step before male breast reduction surgery is to lose weight and see if the condition improves.

You may be a good candidate for gynecomastia surgery if you have enlarged breasts resulting from the use of steroids, a change in breast size after taking certain medications, alcohol or drug use, or if you have had enlarged male breasts since puberty.

How long does male breast reduction surgery take?

At Montecito Plastic Surgery, male breast reduction usually takes between one and a half to two hours. From the front desk to surgery to post-op care, everything is done in Dr. Lowenstein’s own private operating facility.

What is recovery like for male breast reduction?

Male breast reduction surgery is not particularly complicated, nor is the recovery following the procedure. The incisions from male breast reduction are small and heal relatively easily. You will have some swelling and discomfort in your chest, but this generally passes quickly.

You will be instructed to wear a compression garment to minimize swelling and help your chest adhere to its new shape. You may have some loss of sensation in the treated areas after your male breast reduction surgery, but this is usually short-lived and passes as the breast tissue returns to normal.

The downtime for male breast reduction surgery is short. Most of our patients from Santa Barbara, Santa Monica and all over the Los Angeles area can return to their normal activities after around two weeks. This includes most forms of exercise, except for those that specifically target or involve the chest, which can usually be resumed after a month.

During your consultation at Montecito Plastic Surgery, Dr. Lowenstein will discuss a personalized treatment plan involving a recovery timeline and what you can expect as you heal from your gynecomastia surgery.

Is male breast reduction surgery permanent?

Patients frequently ask if male breast reduction surgery is permanent or if it will need to be repeated. True gynecomastia can be fixed permanently with male breast reduction surgery because the condition is caused by excess glandular tissue.

In male breast reduction surgery, Dr. Lowenstein will remove the majority of the mammary gland, leaving enough to support the nipple-areola complex. Once this tissue is removed, the chances of recurrence are very low.

However, if enlarged male breasts are due to the use of steroids, marijuana, certain medications or other lifestyle factors, a patient’s breasts can become enlarged again if usage is continued.

An increase in body weight can often lead to enlarged male breasts. While this is not considered true gynecomastia, it can be treated with male breast reduction surgery. It’s important to note, however, that if a patient gains weight after their male breast reduction surgery, it may allow fat to accumulate in the breasts again.

If you want to maintain your new chest contours, it’s essential to keep to a healthy weight and moderate your alcohol or marijuana use. Steroid use and other medications that cause enlarged male breasts should not be continued either, as gynecomastia is a direct side effect.

What are the risks involved with gynecomastia surgery?

Male breast reduction is a low-risk procedure, and with a board-certified plastic surgeon such as Dr. Lowenstein, risks and complications are even less likely. Since gynecomastia surgery involves small incisions, the risks associated with the procedure are minimal compared to other surgical procedures.

It’s important to note that male breast reduction is still a surgery, so the usual risks of excessive bleeding, poor wound healing, infection and light scarring are all potential possibilities. The most significant risk with gynecomastia surgery is loss of nipple sensation. This is usually temporary and the feeling returns with time as the breast tissue heals.

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