Learning About Gynecomastia: Causes and Recommendations
Conveniently located to serve the areas of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Some are surprised to find out that both men and women are born with breast tissue, even though men have a smaller amount. At times, however, this tissue might enlarge, resulting in enlarged male breasts, or a condition called gynecomastia. Depending on the grade or degree of gynecomastia, it can be treated with lifestyle changes, medications, or with surgery.
What is gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is a common condition and can affect men of any age. Boys in their teens, adolescence, and men in their 40s are more likely to suffer from it. The good news is that the condition can be treated with a surgical procedure to recontour the chest. You may see results with changes to your diet, lifestyle and getting regular physical activity too.
What causes gynecomastia?
There are several reasons that lead to gynecomastia. Just like women, men also go through many hormonal changes at various stages in their lives. Whenever the balance between the male hormone testosterone and female hormone estrogen changes, it can lead to the enlargement and swelling of the breast tissue. The symptoms of gynecomastia can also include discomfort and pain in the breast area. The condition can also be due to an aftereffect of using some medicines and drugs like anti-anxiety medicines, anabolic steroids, ulcer medicines, or if you are suffering from medical conditions like hyperthyroidism.
Gynecomastia is not a life-threatening condition, but it certainly affects your confidence and self-esteem. Young boys suffering from gynecomastia may deal with embarrassment, depression, and social isolation.
The condition occurs on both the breasts and is often mistaken for fat deposit in the chest area or obesity. In certain cases, gynecomastia may be visible in only one breast or there might be visible asymmetry with both breasts differing in size. The severity and degree of the condition may vary in men and that is why gynecomastia has been classified in different types or grades depending on the level of the condition.
Different grades of gynecomastia
- The mildest grade of gynecomastia is grade 1 which is a slight increase in the size of your breasts caused by the localized tissue situated close to the areola. This tissue might differ in color from the rest of your breast tissue. This mild gynecomastia is barely visible and can be concealed with clothes on. At this stage, surgery may not be recommended until after you’ve tried some lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.
- Grade 2 gynecomastia ranges from mild to high in both its severity and visibility. The breast tissue increases moderately in size going slightly beyond the areola. At this stage as well, you may benefit from changes to your lifestyle and medication. Surgery is recommended when lifestyle changes are not beneficial. Unless you are wearing tight-fitting clothes, your gynecomastia cannot be easily seen.
- Grade 3 gynecomastia is much larger than grade 1 and 2 and also easily visible. The enlargement of breast tissue can be close to the female breast in appearance. Surgery is often recommended.
- Grade 4 gynecomastia is highly visible and feminine in appearance. This leads to severe psychological issues in men and can only be treated with surgery.
When is gynecomastia surgery recommended?
Your surgeon might suggest dietary changes, exercises, and compression shirts before recommending surgery to you. When your body does not respond to these, surgery can give you significant results. Most gynecomastia can be treated through a small incision in the armpit area. However, a surgical procedure is invasive and carries the risk of side effects. This is why it is important that you consult a well-experienced surgeon to determine the severity of your gynecomastia and recommend the best treatment.
Male breast reduction surgery is a popular procedure today to restore a toned chest and self-confidence for men. However, you must take several precautions before choosing to undergo the surgery beginning with finding a reputable surgeon. To learn more about gynecomastia or to set up your consultation, contact Cosmetic Surgery Associates today.
Our Plastic Surgery Associates team includes Dr. Franklin Richards, Dr. A. Dean Jabs, and Dr. Keshav Magge. Each of our plastic surgeons is board-certified, and together they have over 60 years of combined experience. Drs. Richards, Jabs, and Magge are all highly qualified in procedures for the face, breast, and body, and pride themselves in providing excellent results through our state-of-the-art, Quad A certified operating centers