Understanding Gynecomastia

The abnormal development of large mammary glands in the male is known as gynecomastia.  The deposit of fat that causes the male breast to look enlarged is known technically as pseudogynecomastia, but is most often lumped in together with the mammary gland issue, as differentiating between the two is difficult.

Gynecomastia can occur for a variety of reasons, including genetics, obesity, hormone imbalance, certain prescription medications, steroid use, tumors, organ failure, and more.  Not all of the causes are well understood.  However, gynecomastia most often occurs benignly and in the absence of one of the more serious causes.  Patients with serious health issues that are causing the gynecomastia should of course consult with their primary care physician to seek treatment.  For most people with this problem, it is common for this to only be an aesthetic problem, and one that is relatively easily treatable with plastic surgery.

Men who are sensitive regarding their gynecomastia sometimes wear two shirts everyday to conceal it.  Some of them wear compression garments to flatten them.  Some of these men work out regularly and are extremely fit otherwise, and feel they must hide their gynecomastia, and so cannot go shirtless at the beach, or wear tight fitting clothing which would otherwise look good.  This condition can make men who are just a little overweight look heavier than they really are.

Men in their 20’s and 30’s are quickly overtaking the weightlifters and teenagers who have traditionally been the recipients of the gynecomastia correction procedures due to the exposure of the condition and its relatively simple treatments through the internet.  Men who just want to look good in their shirts and suits have a good solution to this socially embarrassing problem.

There are really two treatment options for this condition.  Excision is the traditional treatment, but is really only effective on the glandular tissue itself.  Liposuction has become an increasingly common option, because it works so well on the fat.  Often both treatments are necessary for patients because they have both the fat and the glandular tissue making their breasts look puffy.  Understanding the look that a patient wants once the procedure is complete is an important part of getting treatment, because the excision is more invasive than the liposuction, has longer recovery time, and has larger, albeit still relatively small, scars.  Excision is done through an incision that runs right on the border of the areola, and with good patient healing, is completely invisible, or nearly so.  Liposuction is done through tiny “band aid” incisions, and these scars are so small as to be undetectable.

Understanding the basics of gynecomastia and its treatments is a great start in dealing with this common problem.  Dr. Pollard treats gynecomastia often, and is happy to consult with new patients.  Dr. Pollard uses ultrasonic liposuction (Vaser) to effective treat gynecomastia.