Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia is a medical term meaning male breast enlargement. In the majority of cases there is no known cause and, although rarely talked about, it is a common condition. An overdeveloped or enlarged chest can be the result of losing weight or ageing. This can cause either extra tissue around the nipples or create prominent male breasts. Male breast reduction surgery can remove this excess fat and sagging skin to give you a body you feel more confident about. For men who feel self-conscious about their appearance, breast-reduction surgery can be helpful. The procedure removes tissue from the breasts, and in some cases excess skin.

Most teenage boys experience some degree of breast enlargement affecting one or both breasts. However, by early adulthood less than 10% have a residual problem. This incidence rises with age, reaching approximately 30% (1 in 3) in older men. Rarely, the breast enlargement can be caused by medicines (for high blood pressure, heart disease and prostate cancer), drugs (such as marijuana and anabolic steroids), and some diseases (such as liver failure and some cancers). These causes should be excluded by the surgeon during an initial consultation.

The male breast enlargement can be predominantly fatty or glandular. The ratio of glandular to fatty tissue in any breast varies from individual to individual and in gynaecomastia there may be an excess of both. If there is predominantly a diffuse fatty enlargement of the breast, liposuction can be employed to remove this successfully. This involves sucking out the tissue through a small tube inserted via a 3-4mm incision. If excess glandular tissue is the primary cause of breast enlargement, it may need to be excised (cut out) with a scalpel. This will leave a scar, usually around the nipple edge. This excision can be performed alone or in conjunction with liposuction. Major reductions that involve the removal of a significant amount of tissue and skin may require larger incisions that result in more obvious scars. Most operations for gynaecomastia take about an hour and are usually performed under general anaesthesia.

Following the surgery the chest is swollen and bruised for a while and it can be difficult to assess the full effect of the operation. To help reduce swelling, patients are often instructed to wear a pressure dressing/garment for one or two weeks. It is advisable to refrain from exercise for about three weeks and, in general, it takes about six weeks before one can return to completely normal activities. The potential complications or dissatisfaction from surgery can happen. They include inadequate removal of breast tissue, excessive removal of tissue leading to indentation or an uneven contour to the chest and reduced nipple sensation. Bleeding or infection is rare after this operation.

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