A condition called gynecomastia popped up on news feeds recently when a jury ordered the company Johnson & Johnson to pay $8 billion in punitive damages to a man who developed enlarged breasts because of a medication made by the company. Because of the interest generated by the story, I thought it would be a good subject for a blog post that helps readers understand the condition and how we treat gynecomastia at Portland Plastic Surgery.
What Is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is a condition that can affect boys or men at any age—even babies. Even though many people associate enlarged male breasts with being overweight, gynecomastia involves an increase in breast tissue—not excess fat. That’s not to say fat isn’t responsible for male breast enlargement, but the condition itself involves breast tissue.
It’s common for adolescent boys going through puberty to notice an increase in breast tissue. Harvard Medical School estimates up to 70% of boys develop some degree of breast enlargement during puberty when levels of the hormone estrogen can spike. This increase is usually temporary, and by the time a man enters his 20s, the chest again appears more masculine.
Gynecomastia is also associated with aging. The National Institutes of Health say about 65% of men between ages 27 and 92 develop the condition to some degree. The causes are much more varied when gynecomastia occurs for older men, including alcohol consumption, certain medical conditions, and hormonal imbalance.
The condition is also associated with the use of anabolic steroids used by athletes or bodybuilders.
Is Gynecomastia Serious?
Unless caused by an underlying disease, gynecomastia rarely causes medical problems. But it can be a significant issue for adolescents and young men who feel extremely self-conscious about their appearances. They may avoid social situations, such as going to pool parties or the beach, where other guys will take off their shirts. Those feelings can result in an overall lack of confidence that may affect their lives in other areas, as well. It’s also something that boys and men can find difficult to discuss, which can add to the stress someone with gynecomastia may feel.
Treatment is available for anyone who feels self-conscious about their enlarged breasts. Male breast reduction procedures have been steadily increasing for the past few years as more men are comfortable with the idea of getting cosmetic plastic surgery. This is true of boys and men of all ages.
The specific technique used for male breast reduction surgery depends on the patient’s condition. If excess fat is the primary cause of enlarged breasts, our surgeons may use liposuction alone to get the desired results. In most cases, though, excess tissue needs to be removed, and the procedure may include both surgical excision and liposuction. The surgeon may remove excess skin, if needed, and reshape the chest area to create a more masculine appearance.
If you’ve been thinking about finding a plastic surgeon to perform male breast reduction surgery in the Portland area, contact us using the online form to request a consultation. Or give our office a call at (503) 292-9200 to schedule an appointment. You can also look at our gallery of before-and-after photos to see the types of results created by gynecomastia surgery.