Gynecomastia, also known as male breast enlargement, or “man boobs”, is a physical condition where the breast of a male has become enlarged for any of a number of reasons. It is common in older, overweight men, body builders who take anabolic steroids, and teenagers. It also occurs in individuals with certain health conditions, including liver, kidney, and thyroid disease, Klinefelters, and individuals with hormonally active tumors. The gynecomastia can occur on both sides, or the enlargement can be just one breast.

Medical assessment of patients who have gynecomastia is important, especially if an underlying condition is not obvious. Patients should be evaluated to rule out breast cancer, particularly if only one side is enlarged. Breast cancer in men is rare, but does happen, at a rate of about 2000 cases every year in the US.

The tissue that causes gynecomastia can be one of two types, glandular breast tissue, and fat. Treatment for the cosmetic impact of breast enlargement depends on which type of tissue a patient has. Liposuction techniques are used to remove fat tissue.  Dr. Pollard employs the highly effective ultrasonic liposuction or VASER to selectively remove fat.   Liposuction involves using tiny incisions and a tube known as a cannula. Various methods are used to break up the fat tissue, including lasers, ultrasounds, and large amounts of saline. The broken up fat is then removed with the cannula. Some fat tissue over the pectoral muscles is necessary, or concave areas will form on the surface of the chest. However, liposuction sculpting methods are quite effective in removing extra undesirable issue, and the current methods are precise. This works best for individuals who are close to their target weight loss goals, as fat can be redeposited in these areas as weight is lost and gained again.

For guys with glandular breast tissue only, excision is necessary. This involves the surgeon making a small incision, just in line with the curve of the areola, and removing the glandular tissue. .Liposuction cannot be used to remove well defined tissue such as glandular tissues, but it does work well to sculpt the fat under the skin.

Often, however, both tissue types are present. In these cases, the plastic surgeon can use a combination of both liposuction and excision to treat the gynecomastia issue. In thin individuals, it is not difficult to determine if the tissue causing the enlargement is glandular or fatty. In heavier individuals, often plastic surgeons must begin the surgery not knowing if both liposuction and excision will be necessary, and inform the patient that the actual procedure may involve both treatments. This is not a difficult issue, as recovery times are both relatively short and minor for this type of excision and liposuction.

Men who are considering cosmetic surgical treatment for gynecomastia, and who live in the vicinity of Philadelphia, should contact Dr. Pollard at Pollard Plastic Surgery for more information and a consultation.